JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
MAURY GORTEMILLER: In the following order: astronaut, photographer, demolitions expert, actuary.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
MG: This is probably the least interesting or original answer that I could give, but I’m inspired currently by the summer morning light. I’ve never been a morning person - far from it. Over the past two weeks, I’ve left the apartment before sunrise and walked the city for two hours, prowling for photographs. I’m inspired by the quality of light which is entirely new to me, as well as the detritus of the previous evening strewn across the neighborhood. Recent finds: discarded hair extensions and a tattered copy of Sex in History (Abacus, 1989) beside a dandelion in the Bank of America parking lot
JC: What are you up to right now?
MG: Making pictures and not thinking about them in terms of an edit or sequence. Over the past six months I edited two personal series which are now finished: All-Time Lotion and a book of my competitive apnea project. So far I’ve photographed relatively little in 2014. I am now throwing myself into photographing that which attracts me… period. To paraphrase Gregory Halpern, the nature of attraction is so strange and ineffable, and delightfully so, that I’m not questioning the what or why of photographs at the moment.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
MG: Oh sure. Photography professors, friends with far more talent and vision than I, and Frank Stanford via his book The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You. It’s a 15,000 line one-sentence poem birthed from the fields of the Mississippi Delta and the mountains of Western Arkansas. The book contains a irresistible brew of tall tales, dirty jokes, dreams and a series of most unreliable narrators. I read the book four years ago and I’ll never read it again - it’s far too cathartic and exhausting and exhilarating. I revisit various passages quite frequently however.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
MG: I live in Atlanta, GA, on Ponce de Leon Avenue near the Clermont Lounge. The area has a lot to offer in terms of photography, adventure and general hi-jinks. And it’s surprisingly walkable - most of what I need on a daily basis can be found on foot. There’s a thriving visual arts scene here as well. Is Atlanta shaping me? Yes, in the sense that I prefer to make work where there’s an agreeable amount of heat, light and tacos. These conditions make me more agreeable which has to impact the work at some point.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
MG: Know that some projects take years to gestate. Many graduates are ready to crank out new work, share the images via social media and then attempt to exhibit as soon as possible. You have to chill out, think about what you’re doing, make work, set the work aside for months, edit for a few more months, live your life, etc. And this is utterly positive: you and the work have time to mutate and grow. Time to not only make more work but to learn to live as an artist.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
MG: There is no plan B - this is it. I’m here to express myself visually.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
MG: Yes, but not necessarily in terms of a local scene. It’s far more important to communicate with friends, colleagues to share work and talk about ______, wherever they may be located.