Glen Scheffer, Stacked Records 6, 2009
EE: When did photography start to become a part of your life?
GS: I had my own darkroom when I was 16. I had taken a photography class in high school and enjoyed it. At that time in my life, there was skateboarding and photography. It wasn't until I got really hurt skateboarding in my early 20s that I realized how much I enjoyed photography. So I saved up enough money to go to school for photography, graduated, and continued making photographs.
EE: How did you begin this series? Were you an avid record collector and realized that you could turn it into an interesting subject matter?
GS: No, I have always listened to a lot of music but I am not an avid record collector.This series stemmed from another series I had been working on, called Recollection, where I was creating still lives of objects that were left behind in the house my wife and I bought. It was our first house we were buying together and the previous owner had passed away at 92 years old. When we were viewing the house everything looked like it hadn't been changed since the 60s or 70s. There was "a shell" of a darkroom left behind in the basement and as soon as I saw that I said, "I'll take it." There was old camera equipment, movie making equipment and sound equipment; some still in its original boxes. After seeing the darkroom and all of the fascinating objects in the basement, we wrote a letter to the nieces selling the property, telling them how I was a photographer and would be using the darkroom if they accepted our offer. They had higher bids on the house but once they knew I would be using their uncle's darkroom they accepted ours. So I began the Recollection series. I photographed anything from cameras, to light bulbs, to an old canteen, slides, photos bent out of shape, all things that were important to their Uncle Joe. It raised an interesting question for me about how we connected personal memories to inanimate objects. The stack of records was also his.
Glen Scheffer, Harmony #2, 2007
EE: How long have you been working on Record Albums for? Do you work on more than one series at a time?
GS: I began the record series in 2007 and I consider it to be ongoing. I tend to have three or four things going on at once. While all of the series have separate subject matter, the idea behind what they are all talking about is very similar.
EE: Did you have any musical influences while working on this project?
GS: This project is more about the object. Taking the records out, I would see how different they all are: the record names, album art. I would get lost in it and want to explore it further. When deciding how to go about shooting the records I would use the titles of the albums or songs as inspiration. I would think about how each record would sound and use that to form each still life. I have never listened to the records that I have photographed. Uncle Joe didn't leave behind a record player so I haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet.
EE: Did you have any inspiration from other artists or other bodies of work?
GS: The first photo book I ever bought was Walter Evan's book on signs and it was the first time I felt connected to another photographer. The way he composed the frame and the thoughts behind his imagery stuck with me. Also, Lee Friedlander is on my list. Hiroshi Sugimoto is another influence for me, especially his series of mathematic equations. In fact, my image Stacked Records #6 is a homage to Sugimoto.
EE: You work with a large format camera and print in the darkroom, a method that has been slowly overcome by the digital era. Is there an underlying correlation of your photographic approach to your aged subject matter?
GS: It is more of an instinct when I think about how I want to photograph. I enjoy printing in the darkroom and it made sense to use traditional methods for these photographs. I also thought it would be nice to use his darkroom to create these images, to repurpose his objects into art sculptures.
- Interview by Elizabeth Ellenwood