Robert Larson's "Private Moments"

Interview by David J. Carol


Robert Larson is an eclectic and talented young photographer. He has worked at restaurants, a newspaper and traveled the world volunteering for organizations like the Red Cross and Mercy Ships. I think Larson's interest in the world around him is quite evident in his images. I love how his intimate photographs give us a glimpse into the private moments of his subjects lives. I'm a fan and you will be too. Take a read and a gander.

DC- There are two things that initially struck me while looking at the Nowhere Girl and Food Runner images. You shoot in low light a lot and most of your photos have a wonderful sense of intimacy. Tell me about that.

RL- I'm an introvert and have always been a bit of a night owl. Plus the situations that interest me usually occur at night. Visually, I like it better as well... shadows put a little mystery back into the world.  So the way it works out is that I keep to myself all day and then go live life with my favorite people - photographing those I love and the strangers around us. In regards to the Food Runner pictures... I thought it might be interesting to photograph the other side of a place I would generally patron. I spent six months on the flip side of the coin making some extra cash and grabbing pictures whenever possible.

Intimacy is my goal. When it comes to my pictures...it's all completely selfish and about me. The subjects are either people I love, relate to, or who reflect my fears... character I am afraid of becoming.

DC- What was the first photo you took and thought to yourself, "This is what I want to do?"

RL- It was actually a picture that I didn't take. My grandmother had tripped outside and fallen on her face, cutting and bruising it up pretty badly. I was living with my grandparents at the time and my grandpa called, told me what happened, and said to meet them at the emergency room. I sat next to her while the doctor put in the stitches... she kept trying to talk and tell the doctor that her grandson loved to take pictures and asked if it would be alright if I did; she was so used to me taking pictures all the time. The doctor said okay... but It hadn't occurred to me to photograph something like that - a sad and painful moment as opposed to all the other ones. I explained that I hadn't thought to bring my camera with me to the ER.

The next day I did bring my camera to the hospital and took a picture of her beat up head in a neck brace... she looked terrible but she was smiling at me with her eyes as if she was the happiest grandmother in the world. The photo I didn't take and the photo that I did take... the experience changed my whole attitude about photography. My heart was all in from that point forward.

DC- Who is the Nowhere Girl and what is your relationship to her?

RL- Nowhere Girl is my wife Jenny... it's also the name of her favorite song, which she got tattooed a long time ago when she related to it most. Going back to question number one, she is someone I love AND relate to. On and off, we have both struggled with depression, with finding our place in this big scary world.

The pictures are like me telling her that I understand and accept who she is. Specifically they are about her and Disneyland. She loves it there, we both do, but she is able to revert back into a childlike state of mind from the moment we get in the car to the moment we leave the park. It's wonderful.

DC- What do you find most frustrating and most rewarding in your photography?

RL- Self expression is what I find to be most rewarding. Because it's been such a wonderful outlet in my life... the only frustration I've had is with how many years it took for me to realize that I don't need to transition from amateur to professional. For a long time it seemed like the thing to do, but I'm far happier doing other work for money and keeping the photography all to myself.

DC- OK, now for a little game. Pick one out of each pairing: Hot-Cold, Strong-Fast, Beach-Mountain, North-South, Touch-Taste, Faith-Doubt, Now-Later, Up-Down and finally Sleep-Awake.

RL- Hot, Strong, Mountain, South, Touch, Faith, Later, Up

Thank you Robert Larson!

More images from "Private Moments:"

All images © Robert Larson 2014



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