Joshua Hammaren is a US-based photographer and cinematographer from Los Angeles.
His work explores the relationship with people and the beauty of human beings. Joshua studied avant garde & experimental filmmaking in Boulder, CO. He began his career as a photographer & lighting technician in Los Angeles and has used that experience to inform his cinematography. He is in the process of moving to East London.
Chambre Fluide: Hello Joshua! Let's start talking about yourself and your passion for photography and cinema. How did it all start?
Joshua Hammaren: It started in my basement, a month before I headed off to college, watching ‘Drive’ by Nicolas Winding Refn. I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do for a career, but when I watched that film I decided that I wanted to make something as beautiful as that blue and orange masterpiece. The college I went to had a film program, but no cinematography program. So I learned the basics of a camera from my friends at school who were photojournalists. They inspired my fascination for photographing people. From there, I continued to pursue a career in cinematography in LA.
CF: How does your research develop? Where do you collect your inspiration from?
JH: These days Instagram is the go-to for inspiration. But I find that the more I look to Instagram for inspiration, the harder it is to create original work. So I try to let my inspiration come from anywhere outside of social media. I'm quite a curious person. I will often spend time researching or looking into anything that peaks my interest, no matter how mundane or random. Lately I’ve been interested in people's history and where they come from. I’ve been letting that influence a lot of my recent work.
CF: Let’s talk about your series of portraits. They show "blurred faces and abstract shapes, letting the audience constructing" as you said. Can you tell us more about this series?
JH: Photography is often a hyper-accurate representation of what we see in the world. Physically identifying an object is the first step we take in order to decipher meaning from an image. What are we looking at? Where is it? What is it doing? What I’m interested in with this series, and my work in general, is to remove that first step and instead urge the viewer to focus on what they feel. By considering the more abstract qualities of motion, silhouette, and pattern, the viewer can piece together meaning in a more thoughtful and significant way than if they were to simply identify it.
CF: Joshua, you told us you were in the process of moving to London. Are you currently in Great Britain? What made you leave your country?
JH: Right now I am in East London! I’m still in the process of obtaining a more permanent Visa, but for the time being I’m loving it. I came here from LA, a wonderful city in its own right, but when I was there I felt like I was focusing on “making it” in the industry instead of growing as an artist. Success in LA is determined by how often you’re working, which can lead to burnout and anxiety. And I noticed that I was following trends from commercially successful artists instead of creating my own style. I decided I needed to spend time developing as an artist away from commercial influences. I wanted to explore somewhere outside of the US and thought London is a one of a kind city for art and culture, with a rich and vibrant history; it would be a fantastic place!
"Sharpness is overrated. This series of photos explores the raw energy and emotion that a portrait invokes. The blurred lines and abstract shapes remove the fine details from a symbol that we so instinctively recognize. By obscuring the subject's physical form, the audience must construct their own ideas about that subject's expression, attitude, and emotion. The motion blur implies movement, and that movement conveys energy. How that energy is interpreted by the viewer is at the heart of this project."
Digitally manipulated photographs©Joshua Hammaren