Interview with Davin Risk for Making Room Magazine (2006)

1. Many of your photos seem to be in part an expression of solitude and private spaces. Is this a consistent approach for you?

I do not consciously seek out scenes of solitude, however private spaces fascinate me in the sense that they always seem to reveal an aspect of humanity which is otherwise somehow veiled. Our imprint is left within the land we inhabit, the walls that protect us, and the objects we possess throughout our lives. The deeper this imprint is, the more I am drawn to capture it with my camera.

For instance, a hardened jump rope that has been left hanging on a basement wall for 30 years because its owners have aged and their children and grandchildren have all since grown tells a story to me. Therefore my camera creates an image which fills that silence where I feel a story should be told or shared.

2. You pay a lot of attention to subtleties of light and shadow in your interiors especially. While capturing light is an inherent part of photography, what role do you think light and shadow plays for you?

Light and shadow are instrumental for creating depth in the interior spaces however when I approach an interior I must admit that there is rarely any separation between the subject matter and the lighting in my mind. There are the rare moments when the light is actually the object of my attention, and then it gets treated the same as anything else: composing a sea of shape and color to capture a moment which has moved me.

3. In your images of people, there is often a certain amount of tension between the subject and the photographer/viewer. Is this an extension of the notion of private spaces? As if the intrusion is being discovered?

I find that the closer my personal relationship is to the subject, the more I seek to unravel them before the lens. For example I'll sit and only observe them through my lens until an awkward silence ensues, watching their moods, expressions, and body language shift and they tire of waiting for me to take the picture. They become raw, tender, vulnerable, and it is precisely then that I release the shutter. It also helps that I have a penchant for seeking out subjects that dislike being photographed.

4. You say on your site, "Even the simple and mundane should be celebrated." Can you talk about this further? Was the process of trying to photograph those simple moments and spaces intuitive?

There are so many beautiful and wonderful things in this world that most people walk right past in the blind routine of life. I've often tried to point these little treasures out to people unsuccessfully with words, and in the end I just become frustrated at being incapable of sharing a particular beautiful visual experience. However when I photograph the simple scene or mood, I finally feel as though I'm successfully heard.

I would say the process is very intuitive as they are all direct results of me being physically moved by a scene, a face, or a moment in time. When I am physically and mentally incapable of letting the moment go I'll grab my camera and snap a picture or two to document the feeling I'm experiencing, and it's only then that I feel a sense of relief and am again comfortable with allowing the passage of time.

5. What role does nature play for you?

When nature begins to devour and reclaim what humans have taken from it, and then eventually neglected or abandoned, I am inspired. For example, when I see an abandoned home overgrown with vegetation, pavement busting up over tree roots, or weeds engulfing a lawn of personal junk, I see it as nature prevailing, and to me that is absolutely beautiful.