I discovered Lou the way we discovered most of our contributors: online. His Tumblr took me to his Flickr, and soon I showed him my secret blog, and we started talking excitedly about collaborating on a project like this one. As I mention below in our IM interview, his photos are honest and compassionate and beautiful— you want to be seen the way Lou sees people. There is an intimacy at work that I hope you’ll find threaded into our book.
meaghan: Hi Lou!
louobedlam: Hi meaghan!
meaghan: It’s funny we are talking on IM for your interview because I remember us IMing for hours before I met you. I had found your work on the Internet, and you mine
louobedlam: we used to IM so hard
meaghan: We did. You were very meta about it— about Getting To Know Someone Online
louobedlam: Getting to Know Someone in person is complex enough. Add in the filters of internet communication? oy veysmer.
meaghan: But then we met! IRL!
louobedlam: i picked you up from the airport. You were adorable.
meaghan: You did! I let a stranger from the Internet pick me up at the airport. (Sorry Mom!) And then you took my picture in the parking lot and I freaked out but it was a nice picture.
louobedlam: I’ve got it on my wall!
meaghan: I’ve got it on my Facebook Wall. It’s actually my Profile Picture. I think that speaks multitudes of your skillz
louobedlam: Aw. That’s awesome
meaghan: Oh yes, tell the fine ppl about your Creepy Polaroid Wall
louobedlam: thanks for putting it in that frame
meaghan: Ha, I’m just here to make you look good
louobedlam: I’ve been taking Polaroids since 1996, been putting them up on my wall about that long. Different apartments, always a wall of Polaroids.
meaghan: Wow! In 1996 I was 12. I was taking— notes in Pre-Algebra.
louobedlam: Thanks. Right now? 1154 or so.
meaghan: Damn! So you share a lot of your work online
louobedlam: online…man, that has really made me the man i am today
meaghan: Would it be fair to say that. the Internet is how most people find your work?
meaghan: Those of us not so lucky to find ourselvesin your bedroom
louobedlam: Oh, you. Online I find models, the occasional paying gig. Most of the folks I photograph, I found on Flickr or Tumblr. Lots of good folks, lots of good friends.
meaghan: So the internet means a lot to both of us. It’s a nice springboard for meeting people and doing stuff offline, which is where the real magic is
louobedlam: as weird as it is for interpersonal communication, you sure do get to meet MORE people through it
meaghan: Because you can’t take pictures of your computer. Or you could but they would only be so interesting
louobedlam: i like the ladies.
meaghan: I’m glad we cleared that up.
louobedlam: IN CASE ANYONE WAS CONFUSED
louobedlam: Ladies or dames. Never girls. Never did understand how folks let “girl” just slide into the lexicon, especially folks so intent on properly framing themsevles.
meaghan: You are a stickler for language.
louobedlam: i think it’s important. Words have weight, man.
meaghan: Yes! I think that’s why we want to do this book
louobedlam: People listen to you. You are…A ROLE MODEL
meaghan: EEEP! I remember talking to you about this book a long time ago, when we first started talking. I think finding your work and so many others on flickr and tumblr, showed us all that people were doing real honest, brave work that, well, is really worth something. And! You had made a book before! (ed: Portraits of Pretty People)
louobedlam: i did! There’s definitely something more potent about a physical object.
meaghan: Yes! As photographers well know.
louobedlam: That’s the thing. I don’t know if photographers really value the physical object like they used to
meaghan: But there is nothing like a polaroid (or a wall of 1200 of them!) or hanging up a print on your wall
louobedlam: Nothing like holding the object, the art, in your hands. Being able to affect that—
meaghan: Although, as I’m sure you have experienced, that stuff can be expensive and a lot of work to print, to mail, etc…But it is worth it, right!
louobedlam: Yep, lots of hassle— and well worth it.
meaghan: I think the inherent thing we are all trying to say is, “It is worth it! Remember? This is awesome!”
louobedlam: Making something, the act of creation? there’s nothing like it. And with a physical artifact? You hold it in your hands, you get a sense of the work put in
meaghan: There is a legitimacy maybe?
louobedlam: Yeah, that’s a good word for it. If it’s physical, it exists.
meaghan: The fact that you honored it enough to bring it into the world quite literally
louobedlam: it’s real in a way 1s and 0s aren’t. Exactly.
meaghan: Although we do love 1s & 0s. It’s a complicated relationship for the internet-savvy artist… the web lets us meet all these people, share our work instantly, get support—
louobedlam: Lets us meet and interact and discover and experience, but it’s just a little bit removed from Reality.
meaghan: Indeed. Easy to sit on IM all day and forget to Make Things
louobedlam: Totally. They supplement each other, but neither should be ignored.
meaghan: We are very lucky though to have friends like us who remind each other of that, though.
louobedlam: I don’t think so. It’s not luck. We put it out there.
louobedlam: We actively seek the kinds of people who’d remind us of these kinds of things. We create, and that helps bring like-minded creators to us.
meaghan: I am reading this Twyla Tharp book, The Creative Habit, and she says luck plays a role in art but you have to be prepared and be skilled and work hard to recognize when those kind of opportunities arise, and be brave enough to seize upon them.
louobedlam: Totally. You have to be ready for the opportunities.
meaghan: Hooray! Okay last thing. Let’s talk about your photography. I’ve heard you talk about it but maybe you’d be better to elaborate but, your aim is to capture a part of them- to communicate through your work, an intimate part of them or an integral part of their Self that maybe not everyone would see right away?
louobedlam: I try to take honest pictures. I take all kinds of photos now, but the ones I love, the kind I keep coming back to, are the ones where I’m attempting to get something honest, something real, from the model.
meaghan: they seem to be honest, but with a compassion. You look at them and you want to be seen that way.
louobedlam: Yeah, it’s nothing w/o the sharing. For me, sharing it is just as important— the response, how well i was able to communicate what i saw
meaghan: Right. And what about n00dz? I know you have a sort of complicated view of that. You don’t want to take pictures that people just look at because there are boobs there…
louobedlam: Yeah, that one…taking nudes, you know it will attract attention, and a very specific type of attention. Sometimes, nudity is more honest. I think with the women i shoot, it is. But sometimes it’s an excellent way to obscure— there is nudity that can be used as a decoy.
meaghan: Somewhat counter-intuitively?
louobedlam: You’re so busy staring, you don’t notice what’s going on.
meaghan: What do you want people to notice, feel when they see your pictures (nude or no)
louobedlam: i’d like them to come away having been affected- that they see something in the photo that gives them the feeling they get/grok/understand that person,
if only in the moment they were photographed
meaghan: Yes. I think that’s a lot of the reason for this book, too!
louobedlam: My take on the book— it’s trying to put a real, honest, authentic face on something that’s not often gone down those roads. It’s not often you Connect w/erotica. Because it’s poorly written, or fake, or just ridiculous. That’s not the fault of sex, it’s the fault of the writing, of the corrupt intent to titillate instead of affect.
meaghan: Yeah. It’s just different. It’s a hard thing to write about— in that you have to really be vulnerable to do it well.
louobedlam: Isn’t that true for art in general? for really good art?
meaghan: I think so! Like David Foster Wallace said, to talk out of that part of yourself that can love rather than the part that wants to be loved.
louobedlam: Yeah, that’s a really good quote.