In conversation with Damon Baker
Photographer Damon Baker known for signing with industry powerhouse by the time he turned 18 years old. He has worked with the likes of Taylor Swift, Nicole Kidman, Jared Leto to name just a few. We had a pleasure speaking to him about his career, passion and life.
Damon, please tell us what does photography mean to you?
Photography to me means freedom. It allows me to go deep within my emotions and draw from that place to translate my pain and darkness into something beautiful. Without that, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to understand myself.
Your work is mostly in black and white. What is behind your love of black & white photography?
I’ve simply just always felt a deep connection to black and white photography. I think it relates to my emotions also, and that I don’t feel happy all the time nor do I feel sad all the time. I live in a state of inbetween, so color doesn’t feel honest to me, grayness does.
Your photography is really edgy and unique, but you also started experiencing with color. The timeless shots you did of Hailey Bieber show your different side. Tell us more about that other side of tour work.
I feel that I usually experiment with color when I am in love with somebody in my life. The colors still have a desaturation to them because like love, it is a temporarily feeling of happiness, there is still a slight darkness there.
Which was your favourite project you’ve worked on so far and why? You’ve worked with many artists and celebrities in your career. If you had to choose your favorite one you’ve photographed, who would it be and why?
Every picture that I have worked on is a favorite, honestly. Because with each picture comes a connection and a self expression and that truly is the most beautiful feeling in the world And, every person I have created with is unique and holds it’s own special story. I couldn’t choose because even if the experience wasn’t the best, it still is a story that I’ve experienced and created with.
You started your career very young and have done an impressive amount of work for your age. Was photography always something you wanted to do in life and what are your plans for the future?
I started working professionally at seventeen so I’ve learnt a lot in life but with that I had to also grow up very quickly and handle myself in the world, in different countries, with different people. I am thankful for all of this knowledge but it hasn’t been easy and it has consumed my entire life and everything that I know. I’m not sure I could do anything else at this point, it’s almost as if I was born to do this. I’d like to experience more in the future and expand on my art, hopefully growing with it.
You’re an advocate for Suicide prevention. Can you tell us more about your involvement.
I just truly want people to not feel alone in their emotions or to be ashamed of their emotions. I have learnt that without so much of my pain, I wouldn’t be half the artist I am. I want to inspire others to accept this about themselves also and to use creativity as a tool to self express freely and truly.
I think it’s important for people to know that everything I say is how I feel and I can only truly speak for myself in the hopes that it will connect with how others are feeling too. I feel we are almost made to believe that our vulnerabilities are a weakness. I disagree completely with that, I enjoy to feel, I respect my pain, without it I don’t think I’d be half the artist that I am. I channel my emotions and my vulnerabilities into my creativity and into my connecting with other people. I believe that is strength. Weakness, in my opinion, is denying yourself to feel. I speak out about my journey with my own mental health simply because I am part of the crisis. I have been, for a very long time, through sexuality, identity, anxiety, depression, not knowing what to do next. Every little part of life that feels hard, I’m part of, we all are. I found my therapy through my art and my creativity so it is not my job as an artist to sugar coat my reality, it is my job to share my voice and inspire.
Can you tell us more about your recently released project First Impressions with Netflix?
First Impressions is my directorial debut. I wanted to create an extension from my still pictures. I feel my still imagery holds so much emotion and I wanted to explore that in moving image. First Impressions is an exploration through my eye that challenges the ideology of how himself and the humans in his world are viewed. Are we perfect? Not at all. Society has manipulated the idea that gaining noticeable success suggests that all your problems are solved. Honestly, they are mostly amplified. I created this series to give a platform for my subjects to express their true selves, without judgement, in a safe space, through art. (@Netflix @Kristine_Froseth)
To be continued…
You can follow his work on instagram @Damon_Baker
Jana Letonja & Timotej Letonja