Cary Benbow (CB): Can you please explain the idea behind your portfolio images submitted to the Family exhibition in this issue? How do they relate to your other projects, or how is it significantly different?
Nathan Pearce (NP): The photographs of family that I submitted for this issue are all part of my major projects. Mostly my main project Midwest Dirt. Family is important in my life and it’s something that I see as a major theme when I am photographing the Midwest.
CB: Why do you photograph? What compels you to make the images you create?
NP: I love making photographs and zines that include my photographs. It is the most satisfying and important thing in my life. I am constantly compelled to make images. It’s probably because it is so satisfying and rewarding that I do it so often. I simply love making photographs. I’m not sure what originally compelled me to start but I do remember that it was a really long time ago.
CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?
NP: Everywhere. I usually shoot in Southern Illinois and the Midwest acts as both the backdrop and subject of my work. Where I am from is very inspiring to me.
CB: What or who are your photography inspirations – and why?
NP: Aside from the inspiration that the Midwest gives me, I often look at the work that my friends are making and at my collection of zines and photobooks. I am often collaborating with friends on projects, and that is pretty inspiring as well. I most often make work with Rachael Banks and also frequently collaborate with Jake Reinhart and Matthew David Crowther. Most of those collaborations involve zines created and are released on Same Coin Press; which is a project I co-founded with Claire Cushing.
CB: How are these images different (or similar) to the majority of work you do?
NP: Much of the work that I submitted for this issue is part of my main project Midwest Dirt. Family plays a big part in my work. Family is one of the main reasons I returned to the Midwest and I explore it a lot in my photographs.
Almost all of the pictures I submitted, with the exception of one or two, are of my own family. Several photos are of my nephew Journey. I have photographed him his entire life. I photographed him when he was less than an hour old, and I photographed him yesterday on his 6th birthday and hundreds of times in between. We even worked on a split zine together recently.
CB: Tell a little more about your project, Midwest Dirt.
NP: In the statement for Midwest Dirt I mention a beauty in having nothing to do. I am often photographing the stillness and the slow pace of life here offers a lot of material and inspiration for photographs. I felt like street photographers in New York often photograph people in a rush on the street, and the constant busy feeling in the city. I try to photograph the opposite here. Midwest Dirt is a project that I started upon returning to the Midwest after years of being away. I photograph the stillness of my native rural Midwest and the restlessness of people in it.
For more information about Nathan Pearce, and to see more of his work, visit his website – http://www.nathanpearcephoto.com
This article was originally published in F-Stop Magazine in June 2016