Aaron Canipe (b. 1990) is a photographer based in Durham, North Carolina. He earned his BFA in Fine Art Photography from Corcoran College of Art & Design in 2012 and MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, Duke University in 2015. His very impressive work has been extensively featured in numerous print and online zines and blogs. He’s also co-founder of Empty Stretch which Specializes in producing short-run DIY artist books and zines and showcasing upcoming photographers.
Aaron’s images are visual narratives that evoke desire, memory and nostalgia. Those living in or around North Carolina can sense the air and mood of the region in his images. Photos selected for this feature belong to his recent project ‘In Progress’. Here’s a short interview with Aaron where he tells about his photography and influences:
I was always interested in making art. It wasn’t until I won a photo contest in the 6th grade that I felt I had found my medium. I saved up and bought my first camera when I was in high school — at this time 35mm film was still a go-to for amateurs and cheaper than digital. While I was learning technical in’s and out’s in my own time and taking a darkroom course in high school, I was photographing around my neighborhood, in school, and in other public places. It was fun, freeing, and and gave me agency in the world in this small, rural, North Carolina town. I somehow never lost the feeling of this kind of powerful wandering that comes with carrying a camera and went on to study photography at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC and later, getting my Masters at Duke University. Being an artist has always been at the heart of my character; no matter what I’ll always be most interested in making and creating. I’ve had many educators along the way in school and outside of school who have helped me hone that creativity and build that character.
I think nostalgia is something that runs throughout all my work and through all my seeing. The moment I say what a project is about, the moment I begin to limit it and restrict it. I’m not so sure I’m ready to do that here. Right now this edit of new work is telling me that it’s about telling stories and making connections through a variety of different perspectives and location. The story is biblical, as with the idea of nostalgia, biblical imagery is another thread that runs through my work.
What photography equipment (camera, lenses, software) do you use and why?
My equipment sort of runs the gamut, right now I’ve mainly been working with medium and large format black and white. I’ve recently began experimenting again with a digital point-and-shoot.
I can’t name a specific photograph that’s significant to me. Strangely, it’s seeing an entire body of work to me that’s the most elusive. When I was a sophomore in college, I saw a William Eggleston’s retrospective, “Democratic Camera” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Seeing his suite of images “Election Eve” in one room really affected me. I liked them all. And more than getting schooled in composition and color from Eggleston, I gleaned that I could make artwork in the South and my home and that what I was seeing and noticing while growing up, could be interesting to a much wider audience. I had a similar encounter with John Gossage’s “The Pond” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
I don’t think there’s any replacement for a good story well told.
What are your future plans/projects, ambitions, aspirations etc.? Any photobook of your images in mind?
I just want to keep making pictures and books. I’m always interested in my own book projects, but especially working with other people to make those.
“The Players” by Mark Steinmetz
“Alaya” by Nathaniel Dorsky
“Zorn’s Lemma” by Hollis Frampton
The backgrounds used in the ‘Peanuts’ movies from the 1960s
“A Death in the Family” by James Agee
Gerard Manly Hopkins
Anthology of American Folk Music
William Gedney’s photographs and writings
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers (or something completely random):
“If you have more you’ll shoot more.”