Ann Sydney Taylor is a photographer and visual storyteller who spent time growing up between Houston, Texas, and Lexington, Kentucky. She's now based in Birmingham, Alabama, where she ventures out often to capture rock and roll shows, rodeos, speedways, and other gatherings of people, looking for "stories of the fiercely devoted, stories of the strange and the beautiful, stories of anything and everything."
How did your interest in your medium begin and how did you arrive at your current style?
I have always wanted to do it. A few years ago, I told my boyfriend at the time that I wanted to try it out. He decided, all of a sudden, that he wanted to do it too, so, after a short competitive phase of him following around behind me and taking the exact same pictures I did, I just decided to let it go and let him go for it. Funnily enough, not too long after I gave up, he did, too.
About a year after that, we broke up. I started going to shows all the time and taking some pretty killer photos (if I do say so myself) on my phone. Once bands and musicians started using those photos without giving me credit or paying me I said, “Fuck this shit, I’m going to get a good camera and y’all motherfuckers are going to have to start paying me.” And I did. That was just over three years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. Its just evolved from taking photos at shows to more of a documentary style of photography.
How do you choose your subjects?
I love people whose eyes have a story to tell. If I am curious about a subculture, person, place, or thing, then I make it a subject as a way to explore my curiosity. I’m a storyteller, but very visual, so my photographs are how I tell stories of people, places, things, emotions, and experiences. I have a painting of a Nikon camera by Tim Kerr on the wall of my living room (even though I only shoot Canon), and all around the painting it says, "Document your truths." It's the first thing you see when you walk into my house, and it still inspires me every single day. I am on a constant mission to document my truths.
Who have been some of your biggest influences or your best teachers?
Oh man, there are so many. I am hugely influenced and inspired by Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, Glenn E. Friedman, Dennis Hopper, Charles Peterson. I'm completely self-taught and not very good with the tech-y side of things yet but a dear friend of mine has essentially become my mentor in the last year since I've moved to Birmingham and that has exponentially helped my photos and confidence.
Where do you go to draw inspiration?
I travel. A lot. Whenever I'm feeling uninspired, I usually hop in my car and take off for a little while. Whether that be for a few hours, or a few days, it usually helps. Seeing people passionately stand up for what they believe in or throw all of themselves into something they're doing is the greatest inspiration. This Diane Arbus quote sums it up pretty nicely for me: "These are our symptoms and our monuments. I want simply to save them, for what is ceremonious and curious and commonplace will be legendary."
Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.
Just this week, I actually partnered with an organization here in Birmingham called the Magic City Acceptance Center/Magic City Wellness Center for a new project. I can't reveal the subject yet but this is the first big project I've done like this, and I can't wait. It'll take me all over the Deep South to document daily lives.