I started making creative pictures in earnest a decade (or so) earlier. I had a couple false starts — late 90’s, mainly — only because of a lack of self-esteem. It’s something I’ve thought about, too. I brought a camera to some shows in the mid-90’s, but I just hated the feeling of being “that guy”. I picked one up again a few years later, but I just couldn’t shake that feeling.
Lack of self-esteem? For sure. Imposter syndrome? Maybe. I think about that a lot, too. Imposter syndrome. Then, I met Eric Kroll.
I had been working as a director. Dirty movies. Creepy, I know. But the work pays well. A few years earlier I had been denied tenure at one one (and only) job I had ever truly enjoyed in this life, and some pals who had started making big money in the early, early days of internet smut offered me a gig shooting content. This made more sense to me that returning back to The Middle-school-high-school Gig. Plus, it paid well. Really well. But that’s another story.
Eric Kroll was having dinner with some friends when my pal Adrianna Nicole introduced us. I had no idea who Eric was, but I was aware of Fetish Girls. It was one of Cherry Poppens very favorite books, and she was one of my very favorite people. Poor Heather. Rest in Peace.
I had just blown one of my packs, and I mentioned this to Eric. Maybe just as a way to make some conversation. I mean we’re five minutes deep into knowing each other, and Eric is offering to take me to his storage unit to borrow one of his. The very beginning of a close friendship / mentorship that lasts to this day. But I digress.
Eric’s work and the knowledge he started sharing with me was boosting my self-esteem, and I didn’t feel so much like a fraud; plus, my job was taking pics of naked people doing the nasty. Why not pay for another hour for some arty-farties? (“Arty-farty” is my go-to term for anything I do creatively.)
I was aware of Hockney’s photos / photocollages, and I still have my mom’s old SX-70. But it was super inconsistent and that film is expensive. The Fuji Instax is new and reliable and on a work-related trip to Samy’s, I teated myself to one and started to experiment.
I didn’t want to (nor could I) make photocollages like Hockey’s, but I sure as fuck gave it a whorl. And after the solo show I was going to have at a small gallery in Louisville pulled the plug at the last minute (work was already framed), Jody and Stephen from These Days graciously stepped up to the plate and took a chance on me. They also published my photozine Various Self Portraits for the show.
And for that, I am forever grateful.