Photographer Carolyn A. Hampton is an award-winning fine art and portrait photographer born and raised in Los Angeles. She has been making photographs since her parents gave her a Pentax film camera when she was 10 years old. She began her photographic career making portraits but moved towards a more fine art approach when she discovered that it allowed her to express herself in a less constrained style. This allowed her to fully develop a process of using her thoughts and dreams to create ethereal yet haunting images which at times has served to provide a therapeutic release and evoke emotional responses for herself and viewers alike.
Her series “Remnants of Past” was shot during several visits to two locations that were abandoned and allegedly haunted. These photographs were inspired by recurring dreams and use personal artifacts that have been carried down through generations of her family. The images are intensely personal and Hampton herself has found that recreating her dreams and nightmares has been an empowering way to conquer her fears. Although the images represent something very specific to the photographer, they also resonate with the viewer because they touch on themes of a shared human experience.
Tell me about your work.
My most recent work has been more surreal and dreamlike. My “Remnants of Past” series, which is in black and white, is derived from recurring dreams, using props and wardrobe that have been passed down from generations of my family. In that sense, it is intensely personal, and I often see references to various childhood memories in the work long after I created the image and only upon repeated viewings. My color images are usually much more lighthearted and whimsical. With my daughter as my muse, I love exploring ideas that captivated me at her age, such as imaginary friends, fairies, dressing in costume, and superpowers, such as flying. I am very lucky to work for Universal Pictures, so I have access to their immense wardrobe department as well.
Who are your influences?
I am greatly influenced by movies, mythology and literature. I keep a pile of art history books next to my bed. Current favorites are late 19th century painters such as Bouguereau and Waterhouse. I am also a big fan of the work of Keith Carter, Sally Mann and Rodney Smith.
Where did you come up with the idea for this project?
I was able to gain repeated access to some abandoned buildings that are allegedly haunted, and even just by visiting, I was inspired to recreate images from my dreams. I selected some vintage clothing and props to give the images more of a timeless feel. I used long time exposures and a shallow depth of field for most of the images to make it more ghostly or dreamlike.
Carolyn A. Hampton’s work has been exhibited in group exhibitions in galleries across the country and has been published in magazines, on popular blogs and on two album covers. Images from the series “Remnants of Past” will be featured in a group show titled The Next: L.A. Photographers 2011 at the Julia Dean Center for Photography.
The Next: L.A. Photographers 2011 is a group show featuring the work of emerging Southern California photographers who have been developing their unique and personal visions in contemporary photography. The exhibition features the work of 11 photographers: Aline Smithson, Ashly Stohl, Bob Bright, Carolyn A. Hampton, Claire Mallett, Dan Shepherd, Lisa Bevis, Shawn Robinson, Stacey Rebekah Scott, Stella S. Lee and Steven C. De La Cruz.
The Next: L.A. Photographers 2011
An Exhibition of New Work from 11 Southern California Photographers
March 26-May 6, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 26, 2011
755 Seward St. Los Angeles, CA 90038