Photographer: John Mulhouse
- Web Site: http://www.cityofdust.blogspot.com
• Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Contact: jmhouse at cityofdust dot com
• Member Since: 01/10/06
Equipment: Minolta Maxxum 5 SLR
PM: How did you get involved in photography?
JH: There was a great old, abandoned farmhouse and barn near my home in Athens, Georgia, and one day it was torn down to make way for a subdivision. I really regretted not getting some photos to document the final days of this beautiful old place, so when I moved to Augusta, Georgia and saw more old farmhouses and buildings I immediately started shooting. At first I used disposable cameras since I’d never owned any photographic equipment in my life. Eventually I got a “real” camera as a gift. But I know from experience that good photos can be taken with virtually any box that has a hole in it.
PM: How would you describe your photographic style?
JH: I don’t know that I have much of a style! I take photos of whatever isaround me and strikes a chord. Sometimes nothing interests me and I put the camera away. Other times I could shoot one location for hours. I suppose my most distinctive shots have been of decay; abandoned buildings, old cars, desolate streets. I don’t know what my identification with such forlorn places says about me, but as I started taking photographs specifically to document them it’s probably only fitting that I get my strongest shots in those environments. Also, I like using film and shooting sparingly. Hey, I also own a turntable.
PM: Why do you photoblog?
JH: That varies from day to day. At first it was to present my photos in a venue that anyone could access, thus giving the sad buildings, empty streets, and broken-down cars further life. Now it’s probably simply to do something creative in a public space. Otherwise, I’d just file all my shots away and that’d be the end of it. I should mention that, for better or worse, my photoblog is very text heavy. Originally, I included historical information that related to the photographs I’d posted. Recently, however, I’ve been posting vaguely noirish fiction and I try to find related photos to accompany the text.
PM: What are your strengths and weakness as a photographer?
JH: I like to think that I see shots where other people might not. I generally consider a photo worthwhile if I look at it and think, “Well, not everyone would’ve thought to photograph that.” Maybe no one would want to! On the other hand, I tend to shoot too quickly and I have a pretty rudimentary knowledge of lighting and exposure settings.
PM: Can a photograph steal a person’s soul?
JH: Yes, of course. The goal of every photo I take is to get a piece of the soul of whatever I’m shooting and this means I must capture a bit of my own soul as well. It’s a reflective, refractive process and it sometimes makes me uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as having my own picture taken, which I really dislike. My only consolation has been from Annie Leibovitz, who said that even most rock stars and politicians hate to have their photo taken and it’s the ones that don’t that you really have out watch out for!
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PM: What is your background, and what are you doing when you are not photoblogging?
JH: My background is in wetland plant ecology, mostly wetland restoration research. I have a BS degree in natural resources and a MS degree in botany and I’ve worked for various labs in university settings. I also have a pathological addiction to travel and love planes, trains, automobiles, bicycles, busses, burros, etc., etc. If something can get me from Point A to Point B, I’m interested, usually regardless of where I’ll eventually wind up. I also enjoy mountain biking and playing the drums when I can find someplace to bang on ‘em.