Interview by: Vanessa Peters
SKYN: Hannah! Thank you for sitting down with SKYN Mag! Your work is interesting to say the least as we are here to explore that with you! Why did you feel photographs were the best medium of conveying your art?
HA: Photography is an amazing and unique medium. I’m especially interested in it because unlike other forms of communication, it’s visual. The presence of an image creates a visual dialogue with the viewer.
SKYN: Aside from photography, what else are you into?
HA: I’m really into social activism and music.
SKYN: That's really cool. When you are photographing things though, what is your go to photography gear when you set up for a shoot?
HA: I don’t have any real “go to” gear, the best camera is always the one that’s closest to you in order to capture the moment. I have a few 35mm film cameras, a Canon Mark II, and a few Polaroid cameras that I use equally.
SKYN: That's great to hear. You've certainly mastered using them so well and have been able to create some really interesting pieces of art. You have a self-portrait where you are grabbing your jaw with your mouth slightly open and you have your eyes burned out of the photograph, can you tell us about it?
HA: As with all of my self-portraits, that photograph was created while I was in a really weird headspace. I had been staring at the original photograph on my computer monitor for a while and was starting to really hate it. I had been looking at it for so long that I didn’t look like myself anymore. That led to me wanting to destroy the image, and it’s that need for self examination and exploration that fuels most of my self-portraits.
SKYN: That's so interesting. You play with all sorts of elements to make your photos stand out, you play with light and dark contrasts, colour contrasts and nostalgia is a big one I see as well, when you create these ‘looks’ let’s call them, are they fairly premeditated or do you just see something cool that looks like it would look amazing photographed and you just quickly try to capture it?
HA: Mostly everything in my imagery is very intentional. Once an idea is formed and I know what message I want to visually convey, I create a composition that best emulates that concept.
SKYN: And you've been able to convey those messages so well. We're not the only ones who have noticed either. Through your publications and accomplishments, how does it feel to be someone that is recognized for being an excellent photographer when there are other photographers that are also good but are struggling to gain recognition for that?
HA: Nothing makes me more frustrated. I am very grateful and humbled by the attention that my work receives. I am always collaborating with other artists and supporting their artistic endeavor. Artists supporting each other is crucial. If someone creates a strong message with their work, they should be recognized and celebrated.
SKYN: Absolutely! We couldn't agree more. What inspires you to be a photographer?
HA: Photography is a unique and inspiring way to create a visual dialogue. With creating imagery exists the potential to share a message, and that is enough to push me to keep creating.
SKYN: What great motivation. We know it can't all be great all the time though, so we'd love it if you could share with us some challenges you have faced through you career?
HA: Being young and female has undeniably presented me with challenges in my career, as it does with every other identifying female. More work is required in order to be taken seriously as a woman artist. This, while unbelievably infuriating, has pushed me to keep creating. There’s nothing more satisfying than succeeding despite the surrounding circumstances.
SKYN: There is so much truth in that, but we are so thrilled to see you thriving with such fierce resilience. Now that you've established yourself, what are three brands represent you right now? (They could be food, clothing, luxury, hotel chains, anything)
HA: Canon, Noodles & Company, Altar Bar.
SKYN: Great calls! We also heard you had a great shoot with Mac Miller. Could you tell us what it was like shooting him?
HA: That was a fun night. Tumblr hosts art / music events and hosts events, so I shot photos for their event celebrating Mac and his brother Miller McCormick, who created the art visuals for the album. Very cool stuff. I’ve used Tumblr as a platform to share my work for years, so I was very humbled to be able to shoot for them. Great group of people.
SKYN: That's so nice to hear. We're sure you're able to get so much experience and learn so much from each platform and subject that you work with, but who is the one person that you feel has had the single most influence in your work and your creative process?
HA: I have the absolute pleasure of being surrounded by other artists at all times, who aren’t afraid to push me further into my work. One of my best friends, Madison Turiczek (madisonturiczek.format.com), is a great photographer who isn’t afraid to engage in difficult but important conversations about art and feminism with me, and for that I am so grateful.
SKYN: That's so key, and so neat that you would able to learn from them like that.Your work has been featured everywhere, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Cosmo, Vice, Complex, Dazed, the Telegraph, we the urban and so much of it has happened in the last couple of years if not the last couple years, what does it feel like to be just that good?
HA: I’m very humbled at and grateful for the attention my work receives. Most importantly, I'm excited that such a wide audience is relating and reacting to the emotions brought up in my work.
SKYN: It really can be so riveting. Tell us what 2015 was like to you as from what we can tell, it was a busy year.
HA: 2015 was beautiful, and unequivocally the start of me being busy 24/7 with art. I live in Pittsburgh, and there are so many artistic opportunities here that I have had the pleasure of being involved with. 2015 was filled with a lot of DIY art shows with so many insanely talented artists, and so far 2016 is a continuation of that creative momentum.
SKYN: That's so great to hear. We are so happy to see you achieving such great success. We're curious, what does happiness look like to you?
HA: Doing what you love without inhibition.
SKYN: Great answer. In terms of discovering the photography that you love, were you a self-taught photographer or did you have some sort of training?
HA: I taught myself the technical side of things around the age of 13, but have more so developed my artistic eye since going to college.
SKYN: So neat. What's that college experience been like for you?
HA: I currently go to Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is amazing and filled with so many inspiring artists. This city is a hidden gem with a beautifully supportive arts community.
SKYN: Absolutely. Ok now on to some more abstract questions. Do you tend to let the chips fall where they may or are you more of a perfectionist?
HA: I’m only a perfectionist in regards to photo work. The rest of my life just kind of happens.
SKYN: Cool. Also, we notice there's a strong female empowerment take on a lot of your art. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or Why not?
HA: Hell yeah. Of course. If you believe that women and men should share the same political and socioeconomic rights, then you’re a feminist.
SKYN: Most definitely. What about something super random here. What is your Zodiac Sign and from what you know is it accurate to what you know of yourself?
HA: I’m a Taurus. Apparently they’re very stubborn, independent, reliable and sensual. I don’t know too much about astrology but I definitely relate to those factors.
SKYN: Ha, fair enough. What about when it comes to your photos, you definitely know a lot about those and we'd love to know do you edit your photos and can you tell us what that process is like?
HA: How I edit changes depending on the composition. Some shots are magic on their own. Some need a little more love in order to convey the strongest message possible.
SKYN: Definitely. Makes total sense. What is like to be a female photographer in Pittsburgh?
HA: There’s an incredibly supportive community here. There’s a ton of badass artists making great work.
SKYN: That's amazing to hear. Ok another random. Is love a Myth?
HA: Not at all. It’s everywhere, in all forms.
SKYN: So happy to hear you feel that way. As someone who not only captures moments but parallels these moments with social commentary that often speaks to elements of feminism, why was that formula important for you?
HA: That’s the core point of my photography, so it’s super important to me to always incorporate some facet of feminism into the imagery. My work explores female experiences and relationships. I’m combining fine art photography and social commentary, and that formula creates a visual dialogue about societal structure relating to the perception of the body.
SKYN: That truly is so fascinating. OK aside from thought provoking pieces and a heck of a lot of social commentary, what do we have to look forward to Hannah? (What projects or work do you have coming up for us to expect and look out for)
HA: I’m currently working on a photography / sculpture project called Framework of Woman, in which I photograph woman in archetypal stages of womanhood (i.e., breastfeeding). From these photographs, the amazing Pittsburgh artist Michelle Montana (michellemontana.com) is going to create metal sculptures based off the compositions of the photographs. We’re really exploring the root of feminine identity in this series, and we’re super stoked to get this project off the ground.
SKYN: That's so cool! We really can't wait to see it. Ok now onto our final questions. What has life taught you that nobody else has?
HA: Picking up your camera is never a bad idea.
SKYN: Ha, that's a great one, and so dang true. You seem like such a cool, smart, and down to earth person, when next we get to Pittsburgh, can we come by and kick it with you?
HA: Hell yeah.
SKYN: Wicked! And lastly, where can our readers find your work and your social media?
HA: Website: hannahaltmanphoto.com, Instagram: @hannah.altman, & Tumblr: hannahaltmanphoto.tumblr.com
www.hannahaltmanphoto.com | @hannah.altman | hannahaltmanphoto.tumblr.com
@sofxposh | www.sofxposh.com
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