Aaron Canipe

Where are you from/based now?

Hickory, North Carolina.

What is your background in photography? How did you get started?

I recently graduated from the Corcoran College of Art + Design with a BFA in photography. I think my first real experiences with the power of photography were during the first half of high school. I used to walk down to the creek by my house, set up my camera and tripod, and experiment with long exposures of the falling water, and later, trails of car lights in my neighborhood. It was those moments of quiet, almost magical transformations of the real world that kept me using photography and that’s stayed with me ever since.

What equipment do you use?

Lately I’ve been using a Pentax 6x7 medium format camera.

What are your feelings on film vs digital?

There’s a definite shift to digital processes. That’s just the way the world is going. That’s not to say I think digital is better than film or vice versa; whatever works for the individual photographer is the best way to work. And ultimately, what matters is what’s presented on the wall, or in a book, or another venue.

What is your creative process? Are all your shot spontaneous?

I’m always thinking about making pictures and I think it’s important to stay vigilant for these types of things. A part of that mindset is to bring a camera along wherever I go, or a notebook to make notes about where I see a picture. And another part of my process is returning to the same area or part of town again and again and seeing something new. In that sense, my pictures are spontaneous — getting lost and letting go are exciting things and you get a lot of gifts that way. But it’s also important after an amount of time to look through work, and finding what you’re trying to get at.

Who or what inspires you?

Looking at a lot of work in books and in online presentations is always inspiring, not to mention running the blog and publishing company Empty Stretch with two friends of mine. Somehow for me, literature keeps my creative process going more than anything.

What drives you to keep taking pictures?

Keeping a dialogue through images and words with my friends is a driving force behind making work. Mainly it’s searching that keeps me taking pictures. Where I live has a large influence on my work — I’m fascinated at what’s perceived as Southern culture and how that idea is changing into the 21st century.

Are you working on a project at the moment?

I’ve always got about five ideas in my head for a project. The biggest of those might be my project about living in Hickory. On each summer break since I began college I’ve been taking pictures in my hometown and since I’ve graduated I feel like I’ve got a pretty solid body of work about this part of North Carolina. The work now entails going through hundreds of rolls of film, making edits, and putting together a sequence that makes sense. It’s an exciting and daunting task.

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