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Interview with photographer Craig Becker

Scratch 14

F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?

Craig Becker: I started shooting as a teenager with my first series being the vernacular architecture of the Jersey Shore. My love of architecture led to a career as an editorial photographer focusing primarily on Early American homes. The slow, contemplative process of using a view camera was a true revelation. The formal structure of that early work is very much present in my current portraits.

F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your project “Scratch,” can you tell us about this project? What led to this work?

CB: Several years ago, while I was sitting across the table from my father on his 90th birthday, it became clear to me, for the first time, that his dementia had taken a significant part of him away. That was a very powerful moment setting the foundation for the entire Scratch series. The work is about incremental loss, perceptions, transformation and the corners of ourselves, individually and collectively, that we would rather leave in the dark. With the passing of my father late last year, I thought the series was coming to a conclusion but the tension and intolerance of the current political climate have reignited the work.

Scratch 9

F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images or your creative process more generally?

CB: All the elements of my work are photo-based combining my textural images with fragments of archival photos. Generally, the images have multiple layers with varying levels of opacity and blending. This creates a sense of depth and rich textures. Beyond the technical aspect, my creative process is intuitive, spontaneous and meditative. An analogy I often use is diving for pearls, going down into the subconscious hopefully surfacing with a gem. Those unknown areas are incredibly fertile ground for the creative process and self-discovery.

F-Stop: In your project statement you say that you are creating incomplete stories that allow viewers to create their own narrative, I am curious, do you have your own stories that go along with the images?

CB: Absolutely! By the time a piece is complete, I am very familiar with the subject’s journey. The foundation for the work draws from my life’s experiences otherwise it would not feel authentic, but that foundation is infused with imagination to create the narrative. What I find fascinating and very rewarding is the highly varied interpretations by the viewers. Everyone has a story and the work in a strange way is a mirror.

Scratch 31

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?

CB: Usually, the most recent piece is my favorite. In this case Scratch 31. Simply, it just pulls at my heart.

F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?

CB: In the 1980’s, I came upon the work of Joel-Peter Witkin. It blew the roof off of the traditional box that I saw as photography. It expanded my vision in a very significant way. Richard Avedon’s “In the American West” was tremendously influential. His work is still a source of inspiration today. There are many others from a variety of disciplines including Francis Bacon, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, Robert Rauschenberg and Bruce Springsteen.

To see more of Craig Becker’s work, visit: www.craigmbecker.com

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