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Interview with photographer Cody Schultz


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

Cody Schultz: In 2014, my struggles with mental health – namely depression and anxiety – came to a head, leading to my desire for a creative outlet as a way to express what I was feeling. At first, I tried my hand at portrait photography but quickly found it to be more of a burden on my mental health than it helped. It was thanks to Ben Horne and Thomas Heaton’s videos on YouTube that I decided to try my hand at landscape photography, which at first I believed to be a boring subject – oh how wrong I was!

After years of photographing digitally, I began feeling as though my work was suffering: I was taking too many photographs and spending more time in front of the computer than was healthy for me. So, I took a page out of Horne’s book and began using a 4×5” large format film camera in 2019. Between the slowed process forced upon me by this new medium, as well as reading Guy Tal’s More Than A Rock, my work has slowly become more inquisitive, intimate, and closer to my heart. It has been this transition which has allowed me to work more as an artist, revealing to the world my inner emotions in a manner I had originally hoped for when I first picked up the camera.

F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your work “Nort’s Resort,” can you tell us about this project?

CS: Almost forty years ago, my grandparents began looking for a vacation home, something not too far from their house as they ran their own business, which would allow them to get away for weekend trips. They eventually settled on a property in Northern Pennsylvania, roughly two hours from where they lived; the next few years consisted of clearing a driveway with chainsaws and a van, as well as building the two-story house which included a chimney made of stones handpicked from the property. Sitting on 100 acres, including a forty-acre lake, the property deemed Nort’s Resort quickly became a staple of our family. Rather than go to the beach or travel abroad, our family would come to the property, spending our time swimming and riding four wheelers, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows, simply enjoying life in nature. The little moments, yah know?

Nort’s Resort is where I had spent most of my childhood and continue to spend many weekends each year. As I have grown as both an artist and an individual, I have come to more readily understand just what this property has provided me: my love for nature was born here. Specifically, my love for the forest was born on this property. Not only does this project reveal the beauty of my family’s memories, it also reveals the intimate workings of my mind, all embedded within the woods surrounding the property.

F-Stop: Why do you photograph? What motivates you to make the images you create?

CS: My overarching goal with photography has always been to create works of art which express my innermost emotions, as a form of creative expression. Much as I love nature, I am not looking to recreate it or document it for future generations. Rather, I am attempting to reveal the hidden intricacies of the woodland around me: the quiet moments which are so often overlooked. These are what motivate me most to continue creating. This combination of intimacy and emotion being revealed for the world to bear witness.

F-Stop: What is your process for making these images or your creative process more generally?

CS: In more recent times, I have found myself much more productive by prioritizing nature over photography. By this, I mean that I do not go into the woods looking for any specific photograph but instead to simply enjoy my time spent in nature. Though this has led to less photographs being made, it has helped me in far greater manners.

When a composition does strike my interest, there is an emotional pull from somewhere within. While it can be ignored, it eats at me until I begin working the scene, figuring out where to place the camera and how to line everything up within the 4 by 5 inch frame.

Spoken more simply, my entire creative process relies on gut-reactions, on instinct and reactions while in the field. Though there are few exceptions, I do not plan my photographs. Rather, I head into the wild and let it speak to me. The same principle goes for the editing of my work: I let the image speak to me, telling me what it needs.

F-Stop: What do you hope people experience or feel when they look at your photographs?

CS: With my work, I am not looking to force any sort of visceral reaction through the use of saturated colors or grandiose scenery. I am not creating work which will shout at the viewer. Rather, I am creating work which whispers, which reveals the intimate scenes of the woodlands around me that are so often walked past, overlooked and ignored.

The work I create is made for myself, for my own personal expressional means, rather than for anyone else. An individual connecting with my work only reaffirms what I am doing, that it reveals emotions I wish for it to reveal. But I do not hope to push any feeling or reaction onto those looking at my work. Least, not at this stage in my photographic career.

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?

CS: If I were to pick a single photograph that encompasses my photography, and my vision for it, it would be Forbidden. This image reveals a quiet scene aside the family cabin, taken from the porch on a foggy October morning. The quiet nature of the photograph, the fact it whispers rather than screams, that it can be so easily overlooked, but that it sticks with you in the back of your mind…


F-Stop: What or who are your photography inspirations – and why?

CS: I had mentioned both Ben Horne and Guy Tal as big influences in my work, as they have helped me to shift both my workflow and my mindset. There is also Simon Baxter, whose woodland work keeps me inspired and provides me goals for my own work; Chuck Kimmerle has revealed worlds outside of the woods, including subject matter such as the fields around my hometown and the bones of animals left behind; Nick Carver keeps the world a humorous place, while showing the beauty of abandoned buildings and helping me focus more deeply on the compositions of my work … the list goes on.

F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?

CS: Though I typically don’t work in projects – this one, in particular, formed rather naturally – I am currently working toward a photographic series revolving around Coca Cola machines found in various places. I have around five solid photographs right now, with the goal being at least thirty total. It isn’t a project which will be released or finalized any time soon, but it provides me with a goal for my photography. My hope is to present these images for the first time through an exhibition that pairs with a finely-produced coffee table book. We shall see how it goes.

Smokies Coke Machine

Coke Machine – Laundromat


To see more of Cody’s work visit the Portfolio 2022 issue of F-Stop or Cody’s website codyschultz.com

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