F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Anna Agoston: My mother was an amateur photographer. I started taking pictures when I was a little girl. As an adult I tried various mediums, including oil on canvas, before settling on photography. Photography both satisfies me and lets me say what I want to say without thinking too much about it. I have a visceral connection with the camera. The camera is an extension of my body that enables me to give form to what I have in my mind.
F-Stop: The Portfolio Issue 2014 of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your project “Untitled” can you tell us about this project? What led to this project?
AA: In March of 2013 I was laid off from a stressful and time-consuming job. Buds, stems and leaves were sprouting. It was as though I had never seen spring before. I needed to somehow contain this new excitement in my art.
As I took photographs I started to understand just what it was that I loved in my newly-identified subjects. I loved the shapes, the textures, and the fact that they evoked human behaviors. My pictures slowly became a series that showcased what I felt were my subjects’ essential characteristics.
The series is ongoing. I now have 179 pictures at this point in time. Each picture is a 22″ x 30″ (which includes a 3.5″ border), black and white macro photograph. Prints are in signed limited editions of ten using archival pigment ink (100+ years permanence rating) on thick Hahnemuhler photo rag 500 gsm paper.
F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images or your creative process more generally? How do you choose what to photograph, what are you looking to capture?
AA: My creative process happens in the field as well as in the studio and is quite simple. It is driven by my coming to a clear understanding of what defines that particular project. From then on, it’s just a question of finding my subjects and bringing out what I feel while in their presence.
I go for long walks to search for my subjects and look for features that may or may not evoke certain human behaviors. I then distill the aspects of my subjects that I feel are essential by playing with the plane of focus, the light, the aperture, and etc.. For example, in my first three pictures, I saw something very sensual about the way the two stems were intertwined. I enhanced that feeling by playing with light and by strategically placing the plane of focus.
F-Stop: What do you hope people see or feel or perhaps learn when they look at your photographs?
AA: I hope that my art invites contemplation. I want it to make you stop, look and feel. I want it to draw you in and connect you to your inner self. I want the relatively large size of the image, the attention to detail, the purity of shapes, the way light caresses the subject, the subject matter itself, and the tones and contrast to be like a melody that soothes and takes you beyond your daily preoccupations.
F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?
AA: I love all of my images but I have a lot of affection for the three first pictures. They are my Three Graces. In many ways they are the epiphany of what I am trying to achieve: a simple and clear expression of something — in their case, of femininity, grace, and seduction.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
AA: No, I am not.
F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?
AA: I am profoundly inspired by Constantin Brancusi. I feel that fundamentally I am searching for something very similar. In Brancusi’s work there is a departure from reality, a very particular use of raw matter that enables him to express things that are beyond matter, such as feelings, and human and animal behaviors, etc
For more of Anna Agoston’s work: www.annaagoston.com