A Nugget of Gold

Photographs by Tatum Mangus
Interview via emails, December 2016

What is it that draws to you photography?

Well, first, I tried drawing, painting, graphic design, printmaking...but as it turns out, I'm not very good at any of those things. Photography fits neatly in my type-A brain with constraints & technicality that puts me at ease, I think.

Staring at a blank paper, canvas, computer screen, sheet of wood, scares the hell out of me. I think being able to go out into the world & find things to make mine is very special & manageable, although even that becomes overwhelming all the time. The other part of photography that has always kept me excited is the mystery & magic of film. I've started shooting digital this year, but I'm really not sure how long that will last (in my personal work).

Wherever you photograph, what is it you are looking for?

Light is what typically catches my eye when I'm walking around, but often there's nothing interesting in that space, to be honest. The second thing is color. As far as content, just something interesting, either visually or contextually. Nothing makes me happier than photographing a found moment that is simultaneously beautiful & unusual. It rarely happens in my photography because I'm not as vigilant about carrying around a medium format camera as I would like, but when I capture that moment, there's just nothing as rewarding.

What’s your favorite part of the photographic process?

I love getting a roll back from the lab & finding a nugget of gold, an unexpected frame that caught a great moment. The satisfaction of having shot something I'm proud of is really what keeps me shooting.

What was the process of putting together Everything Was The Same? Was a book project always in mind or did it develop more organically?

I always knew I would make a book after I returned from my travels, but I didn't have any other ideas before I set out. I find that the edit is much more interesting & less contrived when the narrative is discovered after shooting.

How do you find connections between photographs taken in different parts of the world?

This was my biggest challenge in putting my book together. I'd made books in the past, almost exclusively of photographs made while traveling, but always just of one place. This past trip took me to parts of Asia, Australia, Europe, the Dominican Republic, & a road trip across the US. It's a lot to try to make coherent in one book. I ended up solving the problem visually, pairing images that often obviously have commonality; i.e. an image of a pair of gloves hanging on some branches on one page & on the facing page, an image of my hand against a window looking out over Tokyo.

What’s something you know now, about your work and yourself, that you didn’t know before Everything Was The Same?

Shoot more. Always shoot more. This is a problem I've always had, I never shoot enough. Especially on this last trip, I found that even though I find great inspiration in traveling, after a month of nonstop shooting, I felt burned out & slowed down in shooting considerably. It's something I'm trying to work on--staying focused & inspired anywhere.