Tom DeLooza: Eyes on the Future of the Past
When did you first know you were an artist?
For as long as I can remember, I have been knee deep and enveloped in the process of creating. Photography came to me during my time at Alfred University, but prior to that my passions were drawing, painting, playing music and building cardboard villains that I could heroically smash.
What are the favorite medium(s) you use to make your art?
My studio focuses on bringing back the historic photographic process of wet plate collodion. This is one of the earliest forms of photography, and remains one of the most gripping. Visual whispers, from the past, come through my work and add to the atmosphere of my images.
What are the most interesting new trends in your field? Is your work changing as a result?
The wet plate collodion process is experiencing a bit of a renaissance as a response to the growing digital industry. I love to be in the studio actually working with materials and objects, building my cameras and equipment, mixing my chemistry and crafting the image from scratch. If a piece of my camera breaks, I can fix it right then and there. I enjoy the tinkering and fashioning of new pieces to add to my workflow. The growing number of practicing wet plate photographers has pushed me to put myself out there more aggressively.
Tell us a little about your creative process – where/when do you get most of your ideas and how do you know a piece is ‘finished’?
My work stems from a childhood of building many of my own toys and costumes. I am often inspired by antique or used objects. I build still-lives giving them a new story, or create props to use in self-portraits. The series I think of the most is my “Adventure Series,” in which I am asking my 10-year-old self what I would like to be when I grow up. I then build props from cardboard, or other easily available materials to re-enact that fantasy. The finished piece is the photograph, and all of the planning and playing happens with the building of the props and setting up the scene.
Do you also teach or are you strictly a creative artist? Who was your most influential mentor and why?
I do teach workshops, mainly through Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW), but do also offer private tutorials. I apprenticed and worked with John Coffer for two extremely formative years. John is a pretty private person, [but he] saw I had potential and opened up to take me under his wing. We taught workshops together, and mutually assisted one another on our own personal goals and projects.
What are you working on now?
I am working on building and promoting the portrait end of my studio. I like sharing my process with the folks who come to visit but most of all I hope that people leave with something that they want to show to people. Not just an image [that exists only] on your phone or in the Cloud, but a real tangible photograph to pass on to the next generation.
How has being in Kingston inspired, enhanced or changed your work? What do you like best about living in Kingston/being involved with MAD? How long have you lived in Kingston or the Hudson Valley?
I moved to the area in 2010, and to Kingston in 2011. At the time my wife and I were looking for a housing situation that could be both studio and living space. We were able to find a house that had a two-car garage: It would never hold a car, as I was going to take it over as my studio.
I live, work a day job, am starting my photography business, and raising my son in Kingston. It is a super diverse community, which is great. Bumbleberry pie anyone? I also like how easily you can get out of the city and into nature.
I am not always able to make it to many of the MAD events, but the ones that I have been a part of have felt so inviting and supportive. As an artist, or breathing person for that matter, I feel vulnerable when putting myself and my work out for others to see. The responses from these events and the growing artist community that MAD has helped facilitate have strengthened my will to push and be more active.
Tom DeLooza Photography
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Tom DeLooza Photography
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