May 30, 2017

Everyday Extraordinary with Paul Edmondson

We walk by Paul Edmondson’s subjects everyday without looking twice: a broken window blind, a shadow, chipped paint. Edmondson has the gift of seeing the extraordinary in the everyday and capturing it in such a way that it becomes art. It’s no wonder he cites abstract expressionist painters and fine art photographers as his muses, their influence evident in the strong lines, balance and texture of his collection. Discover more about what makes Seattle-based Edmondson tick in our interview below!

How and when did you get into abstract photography?
My mother was a talented artist, writer and photographer, so at a young age, I was exposed to the arts. In middle school I got my first serious camera — a Nikon FG — and cut class regularly to shoot in the DC area where I grew up. Some neighbors of ours had a darkroom that their grown kids had once used and they offered me essentially unlimited access in exchange for feeding their cats while on vacation. These were some of the happiest times during my teenage years.

Who have been your greatest influences?
I’m inspired by both abstract expressionist painters (Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly) and fine art photographers like Richard Misrach and Hiroshi Sugimoto. My mother was also a big source of inspiration — she saw beauty in nature, as well as in mundane urban details. Thanks, Mom!

When you shoot a series, how do you develop your ideas and what do you want to express with your photos?
When shooting in the city or out in nature, I strive to create images that are free of clutter, that are compositionally minimalist, and yet also have strong graphic elements and textural qualities. It’s a challenge. I think the appeal of photographing the ordinary is bound by my constant desire to find beauty in the small things: cracks in concrete, wall corners, dripping graffiti paint, etc. I love nature & wilderness deeply, but I also value the convenience of living in a city where I can simply walk out the door and find endless photo possibilities within a few blocks from my house. That’s pretty amazing.

Do you have a process for seeking out the beauty in the mundane?
I’ve been taking photographs for most of my life so, at this point, my photography process feels pretty intuitive and instinctive. It takes a long time to develop one’s own style and unique way of seeing; I don’t feel like I’m intentionally seeking out abstract compositions, it’s just how I see certain things.

How has your background in anthropology and archaeology affected your perspective when shooting?
My archaeology work was very detail focused. When working in Arizona, we would survey vast areas of high desert near the Grand Canyon looking for prehistoric remains. We’d spend days walking grids through Pinyon/Juniper forests and always looking very closely at the ground as to not miss anything. I absolutely feel this influenced how I now see and observe the world around me.

Do you have a favourite medium for capturing the abstract?
I’m not technical or that into camera gear, but pre-digital I loved shooting with my Mamiya 6 using Kodak Porta 160 color neg film. That was a nice combo. I’ve sold most of my old camera gear and for that last ten years or so I’ve used the various Canon 5D’s with just a couple of lenses. Both the iPhone and the Fuji X100T have also been nice for street photography. Later this summer I’ll be trying out the Sony A7rII paired with Zeiss lenses.

Where to next? Any big plans coming up?
Last summer, I hiked about 250 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, starting at the Canadian/WA border, finishing at Snoqualmie Pass. My goal this summer is complete all of the Washington section of the PCT, picking up where I left off at Snoqualmie and hiking 200 miles to finish at Cascade Locks. Eventually I hope to hike all 2650 miles of the trail.

Working professionally for the past twenty years, Paul’s images are recognized for their graphic compositions with an emphasis on line, form, shape and color. He is known primarily as a landscape photographer of the American West, and is drawn toward the places where humans and the natural environment intersect. An avid outdoorsman, Paul lives with his family in Seattle, but is equally at home in the wilderness. See more of Paul’s work on Stocksy >>

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