At Wildsam, photography is a portal that takes us to far-away places.
It immerses us in the communities that shape those places, and preserves fleeting moments in time.
Surveying the selections for our Year in Photography, I was struck by the vibrancy and poetry found in so many of the images: the meditative and colorful landscapes of Chiara Zonca, the painterly western scenes of Wes Walker and the wonder and nostalgia of Tria Giovan’s archive of 1980’s New York City life.
To celebrate a remarkable year in visual storytelling, we asked some of the photographers who contributed to Wildsam in 2023 to reflect on their craft and process.
“A challenge can be trusting the process of finding photographs. For me it requires flipping over a lot of stones–I don’t know where or when a photo will present itself but if I keep looking and attempt to put myself in situations at the right time of day, something will come up–perhaps it’s a photo, maybe a life lesson or interesting encounter–or it’ll just be a reason to turn around and view everything I just saw in reverse. If I’m not in the right headspace it can feel like dead end after dead end–when actually, if my mind is open, there are no dead ends–there is only unlimited potential."
— Grant Harder on creative resilience on his journey through British Columbia
"Unknowingly, I created a time capsule; a visual record of a diverse and robust neighborhood and community of the 1980s Lower East Side that is now a completely different place. Even through all changes, the Lower East Side still somehow holds an energy that’s different to the rest of New York. So many people and cultures have left their imprint over the centuries. I can’t help but feel that all that history is embedded in the streets and sidewalks in some way. In the end, I see this work as part preservation, part humanistic engagement, and as a contribution to an historical visual legacy of the ever-evolving, always evocative Lower East Side."
— Tria Giovan on image-making as conservation and revisiting her archive of New York City's ever-changing scene
"I believe any moment can be a photograph. When you open yourself up to that, the opportunities to make a compelling picture out of the smallest gesture, or juxtaposition, detail, or expression, start to reveal themselves. When I notice those things out there in the world, I just follow my instincts."
— Landon Nordeman on finding offbeat moments in the ordinary and revealing the eccentric spirit of the Hamptons
"To me, the essence of a place is subjective, and it comes from perspective. At this point, I try to photograph places the way I actually see them. Being a person who isn’t native to the Southwest, I do feel a bit like an outsider being there in some sense, but I actually embrace this and try to apply it to the places I shoot photos in. This results in me often sharing photos that resemble what I think were my first impressions of a place, and not necessarily the ones that capture the most epic conditions or amazing moments that I actually witnessed there."
— Austin Schofield on harnessing novelty and subjectivity while capturing the Southwest
"I grew up in Texas, on and off my family’s ranch–following my grandfather around the ranch as he worked and I played, fished, rode in tractors, fed cows or fixed fences. I guess I was semi-born into it. I don’t even consider myself all that country as a person, especially after having the opportunity to travel a bit for work. I just started capturing all the things I like: cows, horses, mountains and cowboy hats in the sunset silhouette. It just happened to be the stuff I fell in love with, seeing it through my camera."
— Wes Walker on finding inspiration in his own Western life
“When I visited Zion last Spring to produce those pictures, I felt incredibly humbled by the sheer size of the rock walls around me. It’s all I could see and think about, particularly at dusk where the towering canyon walls were a pitch black silhouette hugging the valley.
I thought of the first explorers setting foot there, how they must have felt. In a way, I wanted to feel like those first photographers lucky enough to capture Zion, one sheet/roll at the time, slowly, with purpose. Creating a timeless photograph for future generations to enjoy”
— Chiara Zonca on the magic of Zion's landscape and how its history informs her practice