Tannan Flanery | Issue Ten Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work 

I first got into photography when I inherited my sister’s old Nikon DSLR. At the time I was traveling from North Carolina to New Hampshire for school and work, so it became a way of exploring and documenting the regions I lived when I was in a new place and didn’t know many people. When I moved to Boston, I realized I struggled being surrounded by people all the time in such a large city. I started pushing myself more and more to get to the mountains and outdoors which became like therapy for me. I used photography as the incentive to share my adventures. Now, it's pretty common for me to wake up at 2 am, drive three hours and put in 20 miles just to get a couple decent photos.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work 

Over the past four or five years I have discovered the mountains are the places that I am most happy. There is a sense of peace and tranquility even though they can be extremely dangerous; I really try to convey that through my photos. I also realized that very few people will ever actually have the opportunity to be in these beautiful places but my photos inspire people to go out and explore and create their own adventures. There  has been a huge movement recently for preserving our wild spaces and by using my photos to get more people to appreciate the outdoors I can have my own impact.

What art do you most identify with? any specific influences or research areas?

I listen to a ton of music. All sorts of music. I also really like watching documentaries but nothing too serious. A huge inspiration of mine is Jimmy Chin along with Renan Ozturk and Chris Burkard. People who really push themselves to the physical and mental edge to make their art. 

How would you describe your approach to photography? 

I’m usually pretty spontaneous with my shots. I will usually do a bit of research on the area and the landscape, then I usually scout it solo without a plan. Sometimes these solo trips are all I need for some decent shots, but if I really like an area I’ll keep coming back and trying to shoot it under ideal conditions. Recently, I’ve been trying to plan more and focus on giving the viewer a subject to relate with to establish a strong story-line.

What is your working process?

I usually try to be as minimalist and spontaneous when I create. Often, I’m shooting from the hip without looking through the camera because a moment is so fleeting. This can work out really well or sometimes it gives me an idea to go back and try to recreate it. I also try to be as organized and efficient as possible so I can spend as little time as possible editing and more time shooting.

What is your most essential tool in creating art?

I think my most essential tool in creating art is instinct. You could have all the gear in the world and plan everything out but nothing in life is for sure and you have to think on your feet and adapt. Especially in risky environments like the mountains you have to have an instinct for your safety and deciding when you can shoot or put the camera away. Oh, and also maybe my headphones.

How do you navigate the art world?

I have many friends who are artists from going to school right next to Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  I can bounce ideas off of them and they send me work that I might be interested in or inspired by. I appreciate images that make me ask “how did they shoot that?” and try my own way of incorporating their style in my photos.  Unorthodox art is interesting to me because it changes my perspective on the world. I’m also really drawn to colors and how they interact with each other.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

I am currently going to be featured at an underground gallery in Boston called House of Venus. However, winter is my “go season” in the mountains so for now I am mostly just collecting and pushing for as many images as possible before it's over. Also, planning and trying new things this season to create something new.


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