SHORT BIO OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER:
Andrea Anderson Gluckman is an international award-winning photographer and educator who uses her platforms of academics, activism, and art to witness and leverage the stories of communities devastated by mass violence to assist in rebuilding efforts. Originally from the deep South of the United States, Andrea has turned her attention back to her natal landscape to reckon with the deeply violent histories of racism using the skills and tools developed for international conflict. She is currently based out of Rochester, New York, where she teaches and works collaboratively with artistic communities on issues of social justice, indigenous truth-telling, and anti-racism work.
- How did it all start out of? What inspired you to pursue photography as a profession (or as a hobby)?
I started out taking photographs on my trusty Pentax K-1000 in high school, back in the days when we developed our own film. The time in the darkroom was a refuge for me, and photographing became a way of seeing the details in the world I had previously not noticed. I used photography in my studies and work as research and documentary tool as I traveled, but my primary work was in political science, the study of religion, and higher education. Only in the past few years have I been able to focus on photography as a primary vocation.
- Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
I am originally from the south of the United States, which has shaped my photography in both content and purpose. My studies and work allowed me to travel rather extensively, which informed my art and expanded my life on multiple levels. I have worked in a number of fields, but the center of my work keeps returning to the question of restorative justice in communities after periods of great violence.
- Who were your early influences?
Some of my earliest influences were the other young people in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I grew up. The creativity of my peers still astounds me. There was a fearlessness with which people created art which I still have not found since. As I grew as a photographer, I discovered Sally Mann, among others, whose process and content on land have captivated me.
- What are the subjects that you enjoy photographing the most? What draws you to a particular scene or subject as a photographer?
I most enjoy photographing scenes or landscapes that have what Sally Mann called, “emotional information” that I want to share/impart. That emotional information may have to be drawn out in post-production, but the scenes I love to photograph most are ones in which what lies beneath is the real focus of the art—that applies to both landscapes and people. I am drawn, like most humans, to story…and the need/desire to tell that story.
- What has been your most memorable experience related to photography?
The most memorable experiences related to photography for me are the collaborative artistic opportunities related to storytelling. In the past few years, I have been able to work with dancers, musicians, spoken word artists, and other visual artists to amplify stories of Indigenous communities in New York and communities of color in the south. These have been the single most meaningful endeavors in my artistic life.
- What are some of the challenges of photography?
Of course I experience a number of technical challenges, especially as I learn more. However, the biggest challenge for me is how to responsibly and authentically use photography as to tell a story that is not mine…whether it be a story of a collaborator’s Indigenous matriarchy, the story of Black histories and communities in the Arkansas delta, or the story of a person’s transition. I take that honor and responsibility very seriously, and the process of continual revision is a necessary challenge.
- How do you balance between what you see and making it as dramatic and beautiful like a standalone artwork?
This is a question that highlights the difference between old school and new school photography for my generation. When I first started taking pictures, the process was heavy on the front end—it was necessary to capture, as precisely as possible, the desired shot in the moment of taking the photograph. I was limited on what I could do in post-production, so what I saw through the viewfinder needed to be what I wanted as the result. However now, there are endless editing options, so the process can be heavy on the front or back end of shot. I still aim for “good bones” in the shot itself—lines, framing, light, but then I use post-production to fine tune, change the mood or focus in order to better tell the story of the shot.
- What do you want to capture in your photographs?
I want to capture and communicate the emotional information of the shot, be it landscape or portrait. My goal is always to make the viewer feel something, to curate an emotional response and allow a moment to experience the larger story being told.
- Are you always keeping an eye out for what’s new on the camera market?
Yes, and I am also interested in drone technology for aerial photography and film footage.
- What’s the post-production process like?
Currently, I use the Adobe suite in most post-production work, although I enjoy a number of mobile editing apps for iPhone as well. The process of post-production depends on the project.
- Where do you want to take your photography career?
My goal is always to use art to witness and amplify stories that need to be told—invisible histories and buried stories. I want that to inform my work as much as possible. I am increasingly interested in digital art installations, projection processes, and further integrating photography in collaborative projects.
- What’s the most difficult part of what you do and what advice would you give to up-and-coming photographers?
One of the difficulties of photography as a career is that art is subjective. This has financial and emotional repercussions. Not everyone will like your work. Not everyone will buy your work. But you must keep creating. Create for yourself and revisit your work from the past. One of the best ways to grow is to revisit past work and create new projects from it. You can be your own best teacher that way. Another piece of advice is to spend time engaging with other people’s artwork—every day. Spend at least ten minutes each day looking at others’ photographs/visual art. Think about how to integrate ideas into expanding your own process. And finally, PLAY. Play with your shots, play with post-production.
- Where can our readers find you online?
I have a number of different projects online. My small company, Aspexi Images, can be found at: www.aspexiimages.com. I have an online portfolio at: aspexiimages.myportfolio.com. The two projects I am currently working on can be found at: www.elainemuseum.org and www.remnantsart.org. Thank you!