If photographer Brian W. Ferry shoots like he takes absolutely nothing for granted — making us pine hard for moments of intensely quiet, understated beauty that probably already exist in our everyday lives — it’s likely because he feels so grateful to be doing what he’s doing. He may have discovered his inner camera nerd way back when he was growing up in Connecticut, but just a few short years ago, he was working long hours as a corporate lawyer in London, taking pictures merely as a personal creative escape hatch. Only after his blog began delivering fans and potential clients to his digital doorstep did he gather the resolve to quit his job, move to Brooklyn, and make a career out of triggering in people a kind of strange, misplaced nostalgia. “I think a lot about taking photos that are about more than capturing something beautiful, that have a heaviness attached to them,” Ferry told us earlier this winter at his Fort Greene garden apartment, as we rifled through his belongings together. “The heaviness doesn’t need to be negative, just convey a real sense of purpose. That’s hard to do.”
And yet he’s certainly doing it, as both followers of the Blue Hour and clients like Starbucks would no doubt agree. That’s why we’re so excited to share the news that he’s become Sight Unseen’s newest contributor, having already shot two studios for us that will be posted here in the coming month. First, though, he turned his lens on his own home, documenting the interests and influences from his inner world that help shape his unique view of the outer one.
It all started with the pistol, if only because it was “the simplest to do,” says photographer Adam Voorhes. He first studied the gun, looking for ways to segment it, then he took it apart so that its innards were exposed, right down to the bullet casings. “Some objects can be separated like a technical drawing, while others look more organic, like a football helmet with its straps weaving in and out,” he says. The pistol was squarely in the former camp. He took its disassembled parts and built a kind of 3-D installation, each part hanging from a fishing line in proximity, so that the gun would appear to have exploded in mid-air, a bit like the artist Damián Ortega’s axonometric Beetle or this iconic ad from the ’60s. The wires could be erased in Photoshop once Voorhes got the final shot. After the pistol he’d do an Etch-a-Sketch, and an old-school telephone, turning the studio experiments into his best-known series and then selling commercial clients like ESPN and Spirit magazine on the technique. This is how Voorhes works — he is a commercial photographer. He’s not interested in gallery shows. He tests ideas, and then he sells them.
In a recent interview with the New York–based photographer Tim Barber, who's known for his edgy portraits of artists and other downtown tastemakers, the folks behind the Urban Outfitters blog evoked some rather unconventional subject matter: UFOs, ghosts, chicken carcasses. Credit the fact that not only did the former Vice Magazine photo editor shoot UO's playful new spring catalog, but he's also currently judging a Weirdest Photo Contest for the retail giant. Of course, in his work with clients like Nike, Woolrich Woolen Mills, T magazine, Italian Vogue, and Stella McCartney, Barber has displayed a more serious side as well. We wanted to show both of them, so we went through his portfolio and chose some new photos to accompany our excerpt from the UO interview — instances where Barber has documented the private spaces of creatives, a la Sight Unseen.
“I was so dim,” says Greg Krum. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and Krum, best known around New York as retail director of the wonderfully quirky Shop at Cooper-Hewitt, is puttering around the sun-drenched kitchen of a renovated 1890s townhouse he shares with two roommates in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He’s trying to recall the origins of his other career: that of a photographer about to mount his first solo show this May at New York’s Jen Bekman gallery. “Growing up, I was always attracted to making art, but I didn’t think I could do it because I couldn’t draw. I was like, ‘Okay. That’s out.’ Then I finally realized it’s not about that. It’s about living a life of ideas.”