RA Friedman is a photographer and teacher who works with combinations of analog, digital, and primitive photo technologies.
Digital capture has created an explosion of imagery that rains down and saturates every corner of our public and private lives. It has created pictorial overload and, I believe, a kind of visual and spiritual numbness that short-circuits our ability to look and respond more deeply. This causes me to question, re-configure and reverse the photographer’s usual approaches. My starting point is to push back against contemporary tools and methodologies, bending some and abandoning others. Speed, the hallmark of modern photography, gives way to meditation, thoughtfulness, experiment and the occasional revelation. Profligate manufacture and consumption of images is replaced by concentrating on a select few. Modern, complex and expendable studio equipment is set aside in favor of simple, re-purposed gear and inventive deployment.
Since 2010 I have been experimenting with high-speed instant film and tiny apertures (pinholes) that substitute for a glass or plastic lens. Working in close collaboration with models, I choreograph the movement and duration of inexpensive light sources to create my own image-specific chiaroscuro that plays over the human form. I labor over weeks to months, often making drawings to generate and clarify ideas. I then combine photographs digitally to create multi-figure compositions that have a gritty, nocturnal feel and are designed to feel like single, instantaneous captures. They function as an intimate depository where a multi-layered accretion of concepts and visual incident can co-exist and play off one-another. The “photographic moment” ends only when I can no longer go forward. This crystallization of time becomes a matrix in which serendipity, curiosity, and risk-taking, can unfold.