Photographer @uptowneastnyc recently self published his first book DBLX UPTOWN, a collection of double exposed photography taken from his neighborhood of Harlem, New York. Theo has gained wide success in his photography through social media. This is the first of his works that cannot be viewed online. We interviewed him on his career as a creative and how he came to produce his book. Theo gives us an exclusive to his creativity and newfound direction, paired with never before seen images exclusive to Flofferz.
You recently self-published the book DBLX UPTOWN, exposing black and white images you captured from your Uptown Harlem neighborhood. Why do you think now is the appropriate time to publish this particular book?
I have been a resident of Harlem for over the past 10 years. I have seen the rapid transformations from gentrification with my own eyes. I wanted to make something that reflected the old school Harlem that I love and respect, but with a new twist.
What was the most profound moment you've experienced during the creation process of the book? Can you share it with us?
I came up with the idea for the book in January 2014 and had printed a first draft by early March 2014. Then I sat on it for a few months and let it breathe in my brain. When I could see the light, I quit my day job, threw away the first draft and started shooting what you see today. Quitting my job was my most profound moment. I allowed myself to fully submerge into my project.
Did you have a hard time releasing it - making sure it was perfect, living to your ambitions and expectations?
Not really. I like that I had complete control over what went into to the book and the layout. I never had anyone telling me what I should or should not do. I knew my time off from having a day job was limited so I worked quickly.
What impact do you hope it'll have on its readers?
Each image in the book is actually two images double exposed in real time on my camera with no post production. There is a story inside each photo. The layers reveal themselves over time. Like a great movie you will notice new things with each viewing.
Why choose Instagram as a platform to expose your images? Aren't you afraid it's making your art too accessible for people to appreciate its true value?
Instagram is a double-edged sword for me. I got my start in photography with Instagram and an iPhone 4. It’s true. I was an early adopter on Instagram and very quickly realized something was happening. Camera companies started giving me cameras, I was in the first ever Instagram exhibition in Times Square and I started getting hired to advertise on my Instagram account for large corporations.
I got bored very quickly with advertising. I’m not interested in taking another postcard photo to promote crap, I’m only interested in showing the world how I see New York. When my focus changed I started working on private collections and groups of photos that I keep off the internet. DBLX UPTOWN is the first collection I have released.
How did you select the images you decided to publish: What was your thought process?
My very patient boyfriend allowed me to take-over our living room. I had a few hundred photos printed out all over the floors and walls for a few weeks while I did the layout of the book. I only selected the photos that I felt were my strongest. I trust my eye and went with my gut.
What’s the main message behind the book?
The message behind DBLX UPTOWN is that first impressions are not always accurate. Like an onion or a person I have created many layers within each photo. Only time will reveal these layers.
What mark do you hope the book will leave on world?
A red line across the buttocks.
If you could ensure one thing about yourself that would never fade away, even after death, what would you choose it to be?
My art, of course!
Did you choose your previous answer based on selfish reasons, or by altruism?
Would you ever give up your entire life to make someone truly happy?
No, true happiness can only come from within yourself.
What are 3 dilemmas/problems that touch your soul that you judge to be way underrated/unaddressed?
LGBTQ rights for people worldwide. I feel so lucky to live in a time and place where I am allowed to fully be myself. I wish we could get the entire planet on the same page.
Television controls the mind, throw it out your window.
I long to live in a more peaceful world.
DBLX UPTOWN is exclusively available on http://www.uptowneast.nyc/#!dblxuptown/cah6