Colin Todd

The Southern Glossary Instagram account is curated by a new artist or photographer each week. Every curator will put their own spin on the account, showing off work, their process, and their surroundings. Here's a Q&A with last week's curator, photographer Colin Todd.

Location: North Louisiana/New York City Website: Instagram:  @colinbtodd

How did you interest in your medium begin?

My grandmother always photographed and would show us these great old pictures she had been taking since she was a kid. My mom was always photographing us kids as well. It was a hobby for them, but I became infatuated with it. I then started photographing for a local event photographer when I was fourteen and kept going since then. My first line of gigs were these sorority and fraternity parties at the local college. They would pay me to photograph all the craziness and posed friend pics and then we would sell them in the student center the next week. It was super popular. I shot with a Nikon FM2 and a Metz flash rig on a bracket. I remember it was insane loading film in the middle of those parties trying to avoid people spilling beer in my camera. That's when I really fell in love meeting and photographing all these crazy characters. 

How do you feel about the relationship of an artist to their city or surroundings?

I have a complex relationship with the South. I'm like a child of geographical divorce. I live in New York City now and I have a very specific relationship with this city and how I make art in it. It's more short sprints and compressed relationships. I am a firm believer of photographing your immediate surroundings and communing with them. That's how I got started making work about my home town in Louisiana. There is a wonderful distance though that happens when I return to the South to make work. I get to immerse myself in my home (I still and will always consider the South home) and it's culture. But then when I am down there photographing, I just shoot everything and create on a very intuitive level. But when I leave, that distance affords me a separate perspective  when I am editing and sequencing my photos. It's really beneficial to me to operate this way because I tend to get attached to sentimentality and the distance diffuses that. 

Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of? What opportunities are there for artists like yourself?

Well, I have my peer group in NYC and there are all sorts of great opportunities in the city. Studio residencies, grants, and general informal idea sharing. I am a photo tech and teach adjunct at a few colleges, so keeping the academic creative group close is always nice. I also have a network of friends and colleagues speckled across the country, and definitely in Louisiana. They are usually my weigh stations when I'm driving through the South. I can show them my work, what I've been doing lately, and they show me stuff in turn. So I get the spectrum of what's going on out there. Of course because online social media and photography are made for each other, I get a lot of online community interaction as well.   

Where do you go to draw inspiration?

Before shooting, I get most of my inspiration from reading. I'm a big Faulkner and Harry Crews fan. I also love ZZ Packer's stuff. I mostly go for the short fiction, new Southern gothic/realism stuff. While I'm shooting I just let the landscape lead me. Mysterious back roads, or things that have changed since my childhood draw me in. 

Do you feel creatively satisfied?

Usually. Except when I get caught up with "work" and can't make time for my Work.

Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.

I am currently working on a big project on the timber industry in north Louisiana. I've been photographing timber fields, loggers, and old growth land in the area  since 2007. It's time I start roughing it out. 

I'm also about to go on a major road trip, trying to encompass every state in the American South with the western most boundary to be Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. It's going to be the start of a new long project. 

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