Interview: Photographer Carter Howe
Where did your passion and adoption of photography begin?
It started when I was about 8 years old, playing with my mom’s silver Canon Powershot A520 on the small family vacations that my parents and I would have. It kind of gave me a vehicle to capture and validate the small minute things I saw at my eye level, like cool bugs or flowers or brightly colored things on the ground.
Are there any concepts that inspire your work or that you draw inspiration from?
Absolutely. For my aesthetic choices in my photos, I’m deeply moved and inspired by the minimalist work of Frank Stella and Sol Lewitt. I want to bring their interactions of color and line from their paintings to real life, in the form of photography. In terms of modern day art directors and photographers, my favorites are Minh T. (http://www.thismintymoment.com/images), Alex Tan (http://jalexandertan.co/), and Natalie Christensen (https://www.nataliechristensenphoto.com/). They all have incredible work and keep raising the bar in minimalist photography.
As for my personal and creative drive, musicians inspire me the most. In their profession, they have no choice but to commit themselves to creating all the time, whether that be touring or writing music. So they do it till they physically can’t anymore, without question. Their art has inspired mine the minute I started getting serious about taking pictures. R.E.M., Christine and The Queens, Madeon, The 1975 and Fenech-Soler have all been essential soundscapes or influences to my art and keep me shooting all the time.
How has your life changed since being involved with photography?
Aside from giving me more of a purpose, a lot of my physical world makes a little bit more sense now. A lot of stuff in life still doesn't make sense to me, but at least now I’m able to give new life to the little facial expressions, body movements or pieces of color or light that seem unimportant. That’s the most fulfilling thing for me.
Anything that you wish people understood better about you and your work?
I think those who discover and enjoy my photos understand that photography can be enjoyed in different ways, and people will draw different meaning and emotion from each. But for me personally, I believe a photo or piece of art does not need to carry a symbol, story or deeper meaning than what meets the eye. If the art makes you feel something, anything, then it’s done its job. When I found out that Stella felt the same way about visual art, I felt deeply validated, because I feel like there is huge pressure for artists to create work that has intricate meaning and symbolism in order for it to resonate with people.
What kinds of concepts and themes do you celebrate with your work the most?
I try and celebrate our complex world through a filter of aesthetic simplicity. There are endless combinations of basic lines and color to make beautiful photos, and I kind of aim to make people want to be inside the photo.
What changes would you like to see in the photography community and why?
I feel like especially in commercial media, the worlds of photography and film are boys clubs. I want to make and see change in the photography community to make it more inclusive, and that starts from artists supporting each other and collaborating based on their work, not personal identity. We need to make room for and celebrate artists from every walk of life. Those who have experienced societal oppression have a lot to express through art, and the ability to create powerful, meaningful work, but we just don’t see or hear about it because the system favors the work of those already in power. I want everyone who isn’t a young, straight, white cisgender man to know that there IS a spot for them to be successful in the art world. Together we all have to work to make it theirs, but it’s there.
What do you do to kick a creative block to the curb?
I find patience in myself, and even distance from photography. I find that I make some of my best work after putting my camera down for a few weeks, sometimes months, actively thinking about concepts and toying around with ideas, and then returning to it with a fresh eye.
Is there anything we didn't ask you about that you'd like to share?
I wouldn’t be half as excited about the music and photo world now if it were not for a key group that came along the way. The Photo Ladies, an all female photographer collective from across the US (and parts of the UK), scooped me up about two years ago and added me to their group of about 200 women. They gave me a collaborative network of people who care; they instilled confidence in me and gave me hope in my creative journey. The individuals in that group taught me how to support artists and creative processes, and remain focused in an easily ego-ridden world. So thank you so much to them.