Tatum Shaw

Tatum Shaw is a photographer and advertising creator living in Portland, OR, but he hails from Cartersville, GA. His photography has been exhibited at the Oglethorpe Gallery in Savannah, GA, and his photo book Exit 8 features images from the Golden Isles of Georgia. 


Instagram: @tatumshaw

How did your interest in your medium begin and how did you arrive at your current style?

It first reared its head when I was in advertising portfolio school. I was learning about composition and color theory and it occurred to me I could use those principles in the photos I was taking, which up to that point had been shitty snapshots of parties or vacations, with no real discernment about what was going on within the frame. It remained a passing interest with a cheap Sony digital for a few years, while I gradually discovered more and more photographers I liked.  Finally, with the encouragement of a producer I was working with on commercials, I got my first film camera around in 2007. Before long, I was getting images back that looked like real photographs. Stuff I actually liked. The hand with the cigarette and the dollhouse were two of those. Then it became an obsession with getting more that felt like that.

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

Surroundings seem pretty vital to me. Light quality is one reason. I live in Portland, Oregon, but I rarely take a picture here. For one, it rains most of the year. When the sun does come out, it’s usually flat and bright with no atmosphere. Plenty of photographers make good use of that, but I have a hard time with it. When I get to the south, with the heavy air and warm, golden light, it’s like a goldmine to me. It will always be what I know best.

Who have been some of your biggest influences or your best teachers?

The usual suspects like Juergen Teller and William Eggleston, early on. Cinematographers Emmanual Lubezki and Harris Savides. Michael Northrup and non-photography artists like Mark Mulroney inspire me to go more wonky and less serious. I love the mix of re-purposed nostalgia in Mulroney’s stuff.

Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of? 

I write commercials for my day job, so I’m around advertising creatives all day. Within that world are a ton of talented designers and artists and writers. Many of them do really great work outside of the business. Within the photography world, I love keeping up with a lot people from the Flickr days. It’s not like we get to hang out in real life or anything, but I still love seeing how everyone’s evolved since then.

Where do you go to draw inspiration?

Live music.

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

I recently finished my book, Exit 8. I’m happy with it and thrilled it’s done, but those photos were finished up in 2012, so I’m dying to put out new stuff. I just made an edit of work from the last five years that form this nice, dark cloud of dread. I’m really excited about it. I’m still trying to settle on what to call it. I’d like to exhibit it somewhere. Possibly another book, if I can get my shit together.