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May 28th, 2009

Gray Scott: Find your artistic vision and stick to it

Posted by Melissa Dubasik

When liveBooks interviewed top fashion photographer Gray Scott for our Photographers in Focus series, he talked a lot about the importance of understanding your artistic vision. Like many photographers, he describes the constant centering he has to practice to stay true to the path he has decided to walk. We wanted to hear more from Gray, who has gotten so far by staying true to his own vision, and he explained more about his love of polarity and how it’s playing out in his new work.

For a longer interview from Gray, check out this podcast from F-Stop Beyond.

Carmen Suen: You say that you are not a photographer, but an artist. What do you think is the difference?

Gray Scott: Obviously, photography is my medium now, but I didn’t start as a photographer. I actually started as a painter. My background is oil painting. I come from a very trained, technical background. Using the medium of photography has been really interesting for me because it’s faster. It’s immediate gratification.

I’m actually starting to realize now that the concepts that I have in my fine-arts series are very similar to if I were to go back to painting, or do both — that’s always a possibility, for me to do both, they would probably be very similar.

I’m interested in the human form. I’m interested in psychology, mythology, icons, symbology, and all of that. I guess for me, it’s just a difference in medium choice. I’m technically a photographer by trade, but in the scheme of things, the entirety of my work, I feel like I’m an artist.

You can see from my work that I’m not just taking pretty pictures. There is subtext to my pictures. And I’m hoping to push that further with a new series of fine-art photography that I’m working on. I’m hoping to push that to an even more aggressive place. Hopefully in six months to a year, I’ll be able to produce that.

An image in Gray's new series of work ©Gray Scott Studio

An image in Gray's new series of work ©Gray Scott Studio

CS: Could you tell us about your fondness for contrasts?

GS: I like polarity. Hot and cold; good and bad. I like switching things around and pushing polarities around. I have a new piece in my latest promotion campaign that is a good example to explain that.

In the picture [above], the woman is the executioner. You seldom see women in that role. And when you look at the man in that picture, he’s naked and vulnerable. But she’s also exposing herself. To me, it seems that in our culture, for a woman to be that aggressive, she has to bare everything. She has to expose her entire self. Whereas men don’t have to do this. Men could just be aggressive without being exposed.

CS: When you want to refocus yourself, you’ve said you like to read art books. What kind?

GS: I read a variety of books, but I go to Caravaggio all the time. I think the reason I like Caravaggio so much is the drama in his paintings. The characters in his work are always in some sort of trouble. They’re either being executed or suffering. It’s not just a pretty picture. They’re actually going through some traumatic or beautiful experience.

Outside of art books, I read a lot of psychology. And I also like to read Aldous Huxley because he has such a dimension to his work. Some people would call him jaded, but I would say he is indifferent to people’s false morality, which I really enjoy. I think for any young photographers, their work is going to be stronger if they have some stories to tell.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: When have you felt like you were losing hold of your original artistic vision and how did you get back to it?

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