As part of our commitment to showcasing the best creative work around, we are giving away a selection of high-res images by the intriguing American photographer Delaney Allen. Download the images using the button below and read on to find out more about Delaney and his work…
When writing about the work of American photographer Delaney Allen, it’s hard to find a succinct way of summing up his very particular style. It turns out though that his mum hit upon the perfect phrase some years ago.
“We rarely discuss my work, but after completing graduate school she had seen some of my self-portrait work,” Delaney says. “She mentioned to me something along the lines of finding a balance between making something weird but also approachable. I still strive to achieve that every time I set out to make a new series.”
“Weird but approachable” is still a great way into Delaney’s work. Visitors to his website are presented with a list of his “Itemized Interests.” These range from still-life and storytelling to fruit and fabric: also trickery, survival blankets, ice caves and normal caves.
His portfolio is very eclectic and Delaney acknowledges that there is a certain restlessness to his creative approach.
“There’s no real rhyme or reason to my process in regard to a set mentality or schedule. In the past, I’ve decided on impromptu road trips hoping to scout out new locations and shoot on the way.
“I’m fortunate enough also to have my studio in my house, so at any moment I can suss through an idea that I may want to see come to light.”
This willingness to test – himself, an idea, a technique – is key to his process. “Inspiration commonly comes from my inquiry into how to challenge myself to make something new.
“An image may have caught my eye while browsing the internet and brought forth a new way of thinking – maybe about lighting, an angle in which something was shot, etc. Those instances in which something piqued my interest instill a curiosity for new discovery in creating.”
It’s perhaps fitting that Delaney splits his time between Texas and Oregon, two very different states both culturally and geographically. He likes disorientation and likes to play around with “a sense of the unfamiliar.”
“I feel on the surface level my work can be, at times, otherworldly. I aim to puzzle the viewer with both the image and edit of series. This can be a slippery approach but ultimately gives the visual language I’ve created a particular place within the conversation of photography.”
So whether it’s confusing still-life images where things aren’t exactly as they seem, romanticised landscapes or self-portraits where his face has been obscured, Delaney likes the idea that the viewers don’t know what to make of his work. By making them hard to understand, Delaney opens up much more visceral reactions to his photographs.
The strange self-portraits in particular represent Delaney’s considered approach to image-making.
“Honestly, I’ve learned to let down my guard,” he says. “As a rather reclusive, quiet person, I don’t show much emotion in day-to-day life. These portraits have confronted me to step slightly out of my comfort zone, challenging me to fully work through an image until its completion.”
When he is photographing other people, there is a collaboration that takes place between the Delaney and his subject. When he is himself the subject, he can minimise the chance that his vision will get skewed or compromised. “The self-portraits began as a control issue,” he explains.
The images we are giving away via WeTransfer don’t include his self-portraits; rather they focus on his landscape shots bursting with texture and detail and a remarkable sky-themed still-life. His work seems to pose questions rather than provide answers; it feels like he wants us to fill in the gaps. It’s strange, but somehow makes sense. Or “weird but approachable” as Delaney’s mum would say.