Tatum Shaw's eerie pictures is impressed by nostalgia

The photographer Tatum Shaw describes his work as "generally absurd". Pictures that look like a feverish dream through facial expressions or surreal light qualities are his sweet spot. "I don't want it to sound like I'm trying hard to cause nightmares. A lot of my work is inspired by my own nostalgia or fear or a mixture of both, ”he tells CR. “Or sometimes I just find something funny, and that's enough. My favorite photos are a mixture of spontaneous and staged, whereby I create the artificial environment of a shoot, but then incorporate real moments that I hadn't planned. "

Shaw's earliest inspirations come from the music videos he grew up on in the 80s and 90s, citing iconic images from greats like David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Herb Ritts and Mark Romanek. “Mark's videos and the pictures he took with the likes of Harris Savides had a huge impact on me as a kid. And of course he incorporated a lot of photographic references into his work that I wasn't aware of at the time, ”explains Shaw. “I wrote to him in portfolio school and he was kind enough to write back. That was the first time I thought, 'Oh! They are real people. This world is not The far away & # 39 ;. "

All images: Tatum Shaw

While dividing his time between Portland and Atlanta, Shaw's interest in photography was piqued in an art direction class at advertising school. “We learned about layout composition, and I noticed that composition could be applied to the shitty digital snapshots I took for fun,” he recalls. "From then on it mutated as my interest grew and I came into contact with more and more photographers."

In addition to his photography, Shaw also works as a copywriter in the advertising world, and the initial photography freed him from the creative limitations imposed on him by the advertising campaigns he worked on for major brands. “It was more of an interesting documentation of things that I saw. But lately I've been leveraging the conceptual skills I've acquired from my job as an advertising creative and incorporating them into my photography to develop new images and then make them real, ”he explains. “The two worlds seem to merge. I don't know why it took me so long to make this jump, but I'm really enjoying it. "

Balancing the two prevents Shaw from being burned out by the other and has enabled him to publish pictures in Apartamento, Bloomberg Businessweek, American Chordata and Time Magazine. “It's always nice to have an excuse to photograph someone. I'm pretty shy about asking people to take their photo differently, ”he says of the options he's had so far. “I am also surprised by the creative freedom I am given with the few editorial assignments. Everyone seems to keep their hands off it. "

While Shaw has the creative side down, he doesn't feel very technical. "Fortunately, my husband is helping me with some math aspects of photography, Photoshop, and book design," he says. The other challenges Shaw faced were getting his work seen. “Instagram is starting to feel more like QVC, and photography seems to be taking a back seat to whatever goes on with its algorithm,” he notes. “And then, to publish the work is another accomplishment. I was lucky at Plusgood! with a publisher who sees an Instagram story. I don't know how to turn my new project into a book or show it in the physical world. "

Plus good! is Shaw's first monograph and was published by Aint-Bad last year. “(The book) is inspired by my earliest memories of happiness at the pool of my nana. It's such a potentially cheesy performance so I wanted to make sure it doesn't come across as Pollyanna. Instead, I made it into this kind of organized presentation of a kitchen sink approach, ”explains the photographer.

“I wanted it to speak to you the way memories do, so sometimes it's straightforward and clear and sometimes it's confused and nonsensical. Other times it's scary or scary. The attempt is to sell this feeling in different ways. Therefore there is a mixture of portraits, still lifes, old family photos and things that are somewhere between photos and manipulated advertising. So I was able to express the idea to the viewer in a surprising way. "

The project's title is taken from George Orwell's 1984 and the Newspeaking language Shaw promised when he was working on the images during the Trump era. “It was a completely stupid way of expressing the idea. It's happy, but it sucks too, ”he says.

Shaw creates images that often feel like stills from a movie with someone else's dreams, and he has a dexterous ability to photograph something mundane like a child holding a soccer ball or a row of fruits and turn it into something beautiful, but to transform disturbing things. "It's so hard to answer this without sounding like a dweeb. I hope (my pictures) are a brief escape or perspective they can relate to, ”he says.