Several years ago, photographer Shawn Gust and I were FB and e-mail friends. I was a big fan of his work and watched his success with interest. After awhile, he seemed to disappear and I didn't see his name out in the photo zeitgeist. Then one day, Shawn send me a request to play Words with Friends, and through our games, he messaged that he had stepped back from the photo world for a few years to deal with life and was hoping to begin his practice again.
had no formal training in photography, Shawn began working in a professional photofinishing lab and retail camera shop in the 1990s. This experience allowed him to learn at an increased pace. Mostly self-taught on the job, he honed his skills in the traditional black and white and color darkroom, in modern digital retouching, inkjet printing, and studio photography. From there, Shawn went to work as a photojournalist for a 20,000 circulation daily newspaper in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where he currently lives.
Absence. Being displaced or removed from an aspect of my life that is such a source of passion and importance has been both positive and negative. I went through a divorce a few years ago. Sadly, my second. This type of thing has a way of changing a person's life. With such turbulence, comes lessons in priority, emotional health, financial resourcefulness and survival related to all of these aspects. I have children and so creating an environment for them to thrive was at the top of my list. Making ends meet and making efforts to keep on solid ground required a great deal of work, time, energy and sacrifice. My daily work schedule varies, often working hours that leave little time left of the day. This combination of environmental stresses led to many sacrifices. Topping that list was creating photographs.
Interview with Shawn Gust
Yes. I enjoy keeping my vocabulary sharp while engaging in trash talk and intense competition with my pals.
I found myself dealing with abrupt changes in my immediate personal life and environment. Naturally, I had to turn my focus away from my art and toward my family to restore solid ground before committing time and monetary resources to photography in the same way I had been able to do before this break. I have been making work again at a momentum building rate. It's been about three years since I was contributing any notable work to my portfolios.
The desire to make work has always been at the forefront for me. That said, this recent "hiatus" has allowed, and even prompted, a new perspective on what is important to me and to my photography.
As a photographer, I always see images. Everywhere. Nearly everyday I encounter a scene or face or situation that would make a good image. Sure, I've passed up on a few by not shooting as vigorously as I had in the past. Through this, I've found an appreciate for these moments and every once in a while I think it's good to pass on some photographs. It perpetuates a longing of sorts that can serve as both inspiration and motivation.
I think that being artistic or seeing and creating in an artistic way of course comes from within and quite natural. Pursuing an artistic lifestyle, on the other hand, is an endeavor filled with great intent, sacrifice, hard work and commitment. These traits are personal, meaning, that for some, it comes naturally and for others it does not. I really enjoy the rewards that come with hard work and creating work that is an extension of my life. The art that interests me most is has a strong dialect of personal connection or experience while offering more meaning than the creator may have intended.
A couple of my projects will remain as staples on my site, at least for now. I have a portrait project in the works that is a bit of a departure from the current work exhibited.
The future. I will continue to create new work and meaningful photographs. Besides the aforementioned series, I am working out the details of a much more long term project that has to do with the infrastructure of family and the roles of each member. I'm considering past and present relational insights to create new work that conveys my perspective into the foundation of these connections.