David Tomaloff


David Tomaloff, Photographer

Aleathia Drehmer: When did you first start to have a keen interest in art in which you thought it might be your life’s direction?

David Tomaloff: I just hyperventilated and then blacked out for approximately twelve minutes in response to the concept of “life” as a vehicle for “direction” insofar as it relates to anything remotely having to do with me. Seems like a bad way to start an interview on my part.

I’m taking for granted that “art” in this context means art in all or any of its various forms. My defaults have always been introversion and introspection with a strong inclination toward getting lost and moving things around. (I think that sentence is as much a true “artist statement” as I will ever write.) I think coming into possession of a guitar–in middle school–was the point at which art as a manifestation of identity (or vice versa) first occurred for me.

AD: Are there any experiences in life that have directly shaped the way you capture the world through your art medium?

DT: Good question. I became interested in photography on a vacation to Florida in 2006. I used a borrowed camera–a total POS that swallowed batteries by the truckload. I think it was costing me something like $10 a day to use it. There was probably something about that environment–being a stranger in a strange place where nothing was commonplace to me–that really clicked with me at the time. It was a crash course. Luckily, past contributor and photographer Jennifer Tomaloff was there to guide me through the learning curve.

AD: What artist is your biggest influence and are there any educators who pushed you further in your craft and changed your perspective?

DT: I don’t say that I have any particular influences in the classical sense regarding photography. I am influenced by so many things in everything I do, and often my influences are cross-interpreted from one medium to another. We are lucky to live in a time when there is so much out there to see, learn from, and react to should one wish to do so. Many of the greatest photographers of our time can be found right on Flickr should one take the time to find them, and there is no shortage of great tutorials and forums out there.

AD: Your photography ranges from very crisp, stark edges to a ghostly soft aura. There are great textures and depths in them. What is your process for achieving these effects? What is your favorite camera to use?

DT: What I am most interested in when I capture an image is the specter of a person, place, or thing–that impossibly intangible something that exists in being somewhere at a particular time. I treat images as found poetry. I am aware that I don’t create what I see, so what I see can only be an interpretation. Some would argue that much of what I do is not the art of photography in the classical sense, but the art of photography is certainly the foundation.

With that said, I do everything I can do to interpret a given subject at the camera, but I do leave my options open for heavy processing later. I shoot in RAW/NEF format and always in manual mode. These are both tremendously important in my work from a technical standpoint.

My camera is a Nikon D90. I switch between the three lenses that I own, depending on the situation and my level of boredom with whichever lens I’m using at the time. Most often I’m probably using the standard kit lens (18-105mm). I also use a Nikkor 50mm f1.8D prime lens, and I have a Lensbaby Composer Pro kit I like to get loose with every so often.

One aspect of my work that people ask about is the multiple exposure stuff (photographs superimposed on top of one another). The D90 allows for up to three exposures on a single shot, and I have a hot button mapped to that function. Multi-exposure mode cancels itself in 30 seconds, so trying to adjust properly for two or three compatible shots can be a challenge, even on the same subject.

I do my post processing in Capture NX. It isn’t the slickest thing out, and I think it might be discontinued now, but I like the way it works. I’ll use any number of tools to bring out the desired qualities in an image; it’s a pretty painstaking process. The basics are the basics anywhere, though. I find the most important thing is not to overlook one thing for another. I tend toward the dark and fantastically colorful most of the time, and I like lots of blur and contrast. This means that I have to keep a careful eye on detail. Information gets lost very quickly under the strain. It’s a fine line and a struggle, and I’m learning something every time I do it.

AD: Do you have any projects in the works or new publications?

I recently had a story that I am very proud of published in LOST IN THOUGHT, which is a beautiful journal run by Kyle Schruder and Robert Vaughan. I have a chapbook, SLEEP, coming out through Plain Wrap Press very soon. The wild and crazy JD Nelson is threatening to release two minichaps of mine through his new imprint, Dadarado, one of which is a companion piece to SLEEP. I am also looking to release a chapbook collaboration I did with the fantastic artist Tracy Jager, which places a cycle of my poems next to a cycle of her photography. I’m excited about that one. I am also excited to be here, once again supported by the ever incredible Aleathia Drehmer. Yessir. Thank you for that.

David Tomaloff