Our “Inspiration Feeder” presents to you short interviews with interesting visual artists from around the globe. Today in focus: Stephen Langlois.
Where do you come from?
I’m a writer and photographer from the United States. I was born in the state of Vermont, spent 7 years in New York City where I honed my photography skills and am now living on the beautiful coast of Southern California where I continue to find much inspiration.
How long have you been doing photography?
The first time I picked up a camera with any seriousness or purpose was about twelve years ago when my father and I took a trip to Alaska by ferry. This trip, from Bellingham, WA through the Inside Passage and finally to Hanes, AK, takes 4 days. There’s not much to do but simply sit out on the deck and gaze at all the stunning scenery passing by. I wanted to capture whatever small portion of this beauty I could–if only to have evidence it truly existed–and with so much time to develop my meager skills, I was able to teach myself a little about lighting and composition and other fundamentals. Many of the pictures I took on that trip are very straightforward. In some of those pictures, however, I can see my point of view beginning to develop. Sometimes it’s the angle I chose. Sometimes it’s the subject. In any case, I returned from that trip deeply in love with photography.
How would you define your style?
Generally, I think of my style as curious and democratic. Beauty can be found as much in the majestic peaks of a mountain range or a seascape at dusk as it can be in the detritus of an abandoned trailer, the lights of a fast food joint or even an industrial behemoth entwined in the smoke produced in its very bowels. More specifically, my eye has come to be focused on the remote and wild places of the West Coast, the forgotten homes and vehicles that litter the empty sands of California’s Mojave Desert, the unsung neon signage of the suburbs, corners of cityscapes that often go unnoticed by others. I’m always in search of reflections and refractions of the ordinary, the everyday transfigured into the otherworldly.
How long do you think it took you to find your personal style of shooting?
I think of my style as unfixed and always evolving. I’ve been developing it since that early trip to Alaska and continue to develop it each time I take my camera out to an unfamiliar juncture in Los Angeles or to a hidden bluff above the Pacific Ocean. Certainly, my interests have become more concrete over the past twelve years and I’ve gained a better sense of where my strengths—and weaknesses—lay as a photographer. But I’m always willing to challenge myself, to shoot a subject I’ve never shot before, to look from a new perspective at what has become commonplace for me, to redefine what my style truly is.
What would you say is the thing that most inspires you? / What is your main source of inspiration?
Nothing inspires me more than travel, than seeing places that are so new to me up close and personal, than meeting people with backgrounds and life experience so different than mine. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel in the past few years to Morocco, Vietnam and Cambodia, and along the waters of the Rio Negro deep within Brazil’s Amazonia. Trips like these are a feast for the photographic eye, though even short trips within my adopted home of California are inspiring. A recent trip to Big Sur, along California’s central coast, proved particularly fruitful as well as challenging in the way it forced me to try to contain, capture and represent the area’s sprawling beauty within the lens of my camera. Even a short trip—like that between my home and the city of Los Angeles—can be inspiring when I catch sight of something odd or unusual off the side of the highway.
You can find more about Stephen Langlois here: