“I need to preserve time at the moment it’s gone. Things change and fade, fast…”
The self-proclaimed vampire, Allison Wicks, works as a photographer and videographer, capturing raw moments with her cameras. She is currently living in Taipei, finding inspiration through street photography, the power inside vulnerability and special pockets of the unknown. Mostly shooting women, Allison favours analog and explores how poetry and photography can compliment each other to produce a larger impact. Whether it’s a face, a mountain or a split second, she follows a beauty uncovered through subtle tones of nostalgia and gloominess.
Where are you currently based?
Analog or digital?
Analog. I shoot digital if I had to, for the nature of my job. For me there’s nothing digital can compare to film, no matter how advanced the technology. It’s not about which one is better than another but the preference, they’re like different brushes in painting that give you
different textures. Honestly I think I am addicted to film grains, it is poetry.
What’s your personal approach to shooting?
I started out shooting on the street, it’s probably why I tend to be more spontaneous, more recording than directing, I don’t talk a lot, but I always bring a speaker with me playing music to match the mood. I love polaroid’s soft and hazy vibe. I love direct flash for its straightforwardness. I also love using one strobe for dramatic shadows, I have a thing for shadows. I don’t mind the image being “not clean enough” or “not professionally executed”, because I want it to be grungy, nasty, just like reality.
How is videography different to photography? What factors do you need to consider differently?
If photography freezes time, videography amplifies time. It’s all about rhythm. For the same duration, actual feelings of how time has passed can never be the same in two different moving images. How relativity works in videography does not always work in photography. I’m more sensitive to boredom in making videos. I’m not a very patient person, I want tales and experience, I don’t want to waste a second. For me, a photograph is like an old friend you visit from time to time; a video is like a distant dream on a loop.
What has been your favorite piece of work?
The Land Project. It’s fun to see how different places connect to one another. I’m drawn to the peculiarity of unknown but apparent distance. It’s a project that will never be finished.
Each project has their individual style that fits a theme of raw beauty, melancholy and a sense of mystery. What made you choose to work with themes like this? What other themes do you like to explore?
Maybe it is because I always long for the lifestyle of a night-timer. Everything seems to be finer at night—the tranquility, the absence of human activities, the moonlight and a sense of loneliness. As a self-proclaimed vampire intern, I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of
solitude in city hustle, I’m getting used to the elastic distance between me and others. I value rawness because perfect is kind of boring. Flaws make things unique. Other than those, I’d love to explore the world of surrealism. I think it’s a shelter I can escape to. I might as well stay there forever.
What is something you always consider whilst you’re shooting street photography?
I would say I like to hunt down the escape of incidents. Everything that happens on the street is fleeting, sometimes it’s dramatic, sometimes it’s like nothing ever happens at all, and sometimes the seeming nothingness ends up looking dramatic. This is why I love street photography, it creates fictional stories based on reality, it’s the memento of moments that were gone forever. Nothing is real and it doesn’t matter.
What do you like to experiment with?
The Wrong Idea’s juxtaposition, the beauty and violence in Made of Wine and the reflections in Ocean Baby all seem to have the pattern of contrasting photos, was this by accident or planned?
A little bit of both. It’s probably my subconscious projecting who I am as a reluctant human being(I’ll be very much appreciated if someone could turn me into a vampire or an orca for real). It’s always thought-provoking to see how confusions clash in this chaotic world. It kind of makes you let go of things you took for granted, and when you have them back again you
will realize that you’ve grown up a bit more. Juxtaposing the stereotypical “vulnerability” of young women with weapons to me is an indirect way to feel powerful and take control. There are moments of calmness, movements of power kicking forward, but we humans, we are restless, we stare and wait for turbulence. It’s a strange world indeed so what’s to lose for being a little stranger.
Do you take many self portraits?
Not really, but there’s one particular self portrait I’d like to share. I once put my head under the enlarger in the darkroom and exposed different angles of my face several times. Then I made a collage out of those photograms. It felt good to re-create myself. Yet, the more I shoot the more I realise that every photo is a self portrait whether the photographer is in it or not.
What are your thoughts of nudes?
Nude photography is a rediscovery of the beauty of shape and form on the shallowest level. I’m fascinated by the female body. Going deeper, I’ve always wanted to bring out the badass quality I see in women, I respect that a lot. I don’t give a shit about male gaze. In my case, being observed by men doesn’t make women less powerful, there’s nothing they can do but look, and it’s only because the women being photographed give them the permission to do so, it’s pathetic if men think they’re superior just because they’re doing the looking. Stop victimising women because we are stronger than you know. We’re busy, we don’t care what men think when they’re “looking”. Besides, all I want is to capture some sort of harmony within a person, chill and confident, wild and dangerous.
Feature image and inset by Allison H.