An Exploration Of How We Craft The World We Live In As Both The Creator And The Subject

Sometimes the best artists are those who understand what it’s like to be the creator and the subject and similarly, the most well-rounded people are those who understand the link between their subconscious and their conscious, appreciate how growth can happen in tandem with others and in solitude.

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Boston based photographer, Alicia Savage, explores just that in her ongoing series of self-portraits, Destinations. Poignantly innocent at times yet stoic and seductive at others, the photographs in the collection explore the themes of young adulthood and independence, the physical world and the existential one we ponder on internally, as well as Alicia’s own capabilities and curiosities as a photographer.

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Compelled to travel alone, Alicia was lead by her own curiosities and trusted personal instincts to guide her through the experiences she faced. With a lack of travel companion she was inclined to be both behind the lens and in front of it, exploring both the landscapes she came across and herself, uninfluenced by friends or photographer, just human.

The images in the collection are a mixture of pre-conceptualised shots and spur-of-the-moment images, yet both seem to capture humanity in it’s rawest yet most surreal form. Though the project is a self-exploration, the face of the woman in the picture is clouded, shrouded in smoke, leaving the viewer to reflect themselves onto the images. The woman could be any of us, the journey and the vulnerability our own.

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We spoke to the photographer, whose work has been exhibited around the world, about the idea behind the series and the importance of self-portraiture in art.

The Plus: Destinations is inspired by solo exploration – could you expand a little on this concept?
Alicia Savage:
My work, particularly my series “Destinations”, is often an examination of the internal and external environments we live in. There is the physical world, but there is also our intangible existence– within how we live in our ideas, emotions, intuition, fantasies, and daily thoughts. Too often I would only trust what was physically relevant or practical, and so I began venturing off on spontaneous solo road trips as a way to detour from what was always familiar and routine; allowing my curiosities to lead and documenting my mindset within the environments I was in.

To be very honest, I find this series “Destination” to be incredibly difficult to describe in full as I didn’t approach this body of work with an intended concept or vision, but rather it formed very organically alongside this period of self-exploration. And perhaps that is why many are able to relate to the imagery, as it speaks to an element of human growth that we all experience throughout our lives in one way or another.

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TP: What is the creative process for the images? (photo, equipment, post-editing, digital software etc)
AS:
While on these road trips I made a point to photograph everyday. Using my tripod and myself as the model, it provided me both control and freedom within the frame to experiment with my ideas and the environment. After 2-3 weeks of traveling, I would then return home with multiple images to construct and illustrate over a few months using Adobe Photoshop. Photo editing I find to be another entirely separate artistic medium in itself that I love to explore and incorporate additional layers of interpretation with. In regards to gear, I prefer simple, compact, and light. Anything that is quality made and that I can easily pack and travel with is key for me.

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TP: Do you prefer being behind the camera or in front of it, as in this series you seem to do both?
AS:
While creating this series, I preferred to be in front of the camera as that is where I am able to express and experiment more creatively. But put someone else behind the camera, it doesn’t allow that same freedom.

TP: What has been the most challenging aspect while creating the series?
AS:
From a creative stands point the series developed very organically. My greatest challenge was the endurance to travel and take these photographs continuously. To have the energy and trust to continue to create, when you can’t completely define or predict what is forming.

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TP: How important do you think self-portraiture has been to your own growth as a photographer and what advice would you give to those who are skeptical about putting themselves in the frame?
AS:
Self-portraiture provided me the space to explore my emotions and learn about myself through the imagery created – which has absolutely had an impact on my work and how I relate to photography as an art form. If someone has an interest in self-portrait, I would encourage them to explore it and have both patience and confidence in what they create.

TP: What is the best response you’ve had to your work?
AS:
To be very honest, it’s not a single response but the range of personal interpretations that I find my work often receives that fascinates me. All of these images hold personal moments for me, and I find it so humbling to know others can connect with them through their own individual experiences and emotions.

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