Shaun Pierson

Jun 21st, 2019

Shaun Pierson

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Shaun Pierson is an American photographer living and working in New York City. He attended Rowan University where he recently received his BA in Radio/Television/Film in May, 2019. While studying at university, Shaun began to explore photography as a tool to excavate the recesses of his childhood. In an effort to further understand his recurring feelings of nostalgic yearning, Shaun began to loosely recreate childhood memories by utilizing immediate family members as well as locations from his youth in his first photo series, the autobiographical fantasy “Alvine Road”.

Tell us about the works that we’re featuring?

These photos are from a recent series of mine called “Alvine Road”. They were primarily made during my senior year of college between the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019 as a response to my childhood and my own relationship to home. Through this work, I revisit half-remembered memories from my youth in an attempt to further understand myself and, from a larger perspective, look at how environments shape people. The series is ongoing.

When did you start taking photos?

Not very long actually. I had grown up wanting to be a filmmaker so I was very familiar with the visual component of it all, but I didn’t start taking photography seriously until my junior year of college. I took my very first digital photo class and I was lucky enough to have two really incredible professors who absolutely turned my world upside down when it came to looking at, and understanding, photography. They were instrumental in shaping what my work is now and taught me that vulnerability and intent are far more important than any amount of technical prowess.

Does your family like your work?

My family supports me and my work wholeheartedly, but I’m not sure they actually understand it. After all, they only get a chance to view the process from a technical standpoint: I pose them in a very specific way, take a few pictures, and then that’s it. For them, it’s over and I really think they could care less about the intent behind the image. I actually think it might be better that way.

How do you determine if a work has been a success?

It’s almost always a gut reaction. With each picture I make, I go through a very stressful mental process of trying to decide whether it works or not. It’s tricky. There are times when I know I’ve taken a really great photo on a technical level where the framing is perfect and the light is just right, but I wind up not using it because there is simply nothing at stake for me. I need to feel a connection of some kind, otherwise it’s just a pointless exercise in style. Even after I’ve determined the work has been a success, I almost always show it to a few trusted friends or mentors of mine, people who I know will be brutally honest with me and challenge my ideas and give me a fresh perspective. Trusting myself can sometimes be very difficult and I am grateful to be surrounded by individuals who give incredible criticism.

What other forms of art inform your work?

Film has always been an incredible influence on my work. I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker and I still do. Luckily for me, I feel like film and photography go hand-in-hand. They are both powerful mediums of visual storytelling and I think that they overlap in so many interesting and beautiful ways. Filmmakers like Terrence Malick, Jane Campion, and Andre Tarkovsky have rocked my world with their poeticism and subtlety.

Any upcoming artists we should know about?

Adriana Alpizar is a really interesting photographer and media-maker whose work subverts the male gaze in very intimate, beautiful ways. I love her work a lot.