If you frequent downtown, take public transportation, participate in cultural events, or just go about your everyday life in D.C., you might find yourself in one of Victoria Pickering’s photographs.
Victoria’s work has been featured in the Exposed DC Photography Show twice (2013 and 2014), with work that provides a unique perspective of the urban environment and how people fill the city and its spaces.
Because she posts her images online under a creative commons license, Victoria’s work has been featured on numerous websites, which has subsequently led to commercial work that she wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. We asked Victoria a few questions about her love for photography.
Exposed: You have a really diverse professional background – from cognitive psychology to independent financial consulting to web design. What do you get out of photography compared to everything else that you do?
Pickering: For the past couple of years, I’ve been really passionate about photography, almost to the point of being addicted. It’s a way to communicate and I just love all the people that I meet through it. It’s my biggest source of enjoyment. It also relates to the technology that I’m interested in and web development.
You’re always out and about shooting photographs. What’s key to you in any shoot?
I’ve been taking photographs for about five years, and in that time, I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned — and am still in the process of learning — is having a photograph be about something. If I look back at my photographs from a couple of years ago, it’s the entire kitchen sink: I tried to include everything.
Sometimes I think my photographs are too simple and I can’t combine a couple of different concepts. But I hope I can do more of that as I get better. I realize the photographs that I take and like are the ones where I sort of push the concept of, “if it’s about this, then let me make it really about this.”
How did you come up with the concept for your Doors of DC project?
Well, it was December 31 and I knew I needed to do a project for next year. I got the idea because I love history and the city itself, so I quickly looked up to see if anybody else was doing something like it. I tried to buy the domain name doorsofdc.com, which was already taken by a commercial firm. So, I bought doorsofwashington.com and went about posting a door every day for a year.
Now, I want to go for at least a thousand doors because of the history, zoning sites, and abandoned and decrepit buildings that D.C. has to offer. It’s really great — It keeps me walking around in all quadrants of the city. I think I’ve gotten six out of the eight wards so far.
What is your equipment of choice?
Until last year, it was an entry-level Canon DSLR and iPhone4S. Then, I sold some photographs and could afford to upgrade my equipment. I upgraded to a Canon 70D and also got a Sony RX-1, which is perfect for street photography.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I have tried to put together a few photo books on iBooks, and I think the one I’m going to do next is a compilation of 5 Pointz, a graffiti mecca in Queens, New York that was torn down in November. I love street art, and I think the graffiti art that was there was incredible.
5 Pointz was a vast warehouse complex, and the owners allowed it to be painted with graffiti over the last 20 years. The best aerosol artists around the world came and painted on it. I went a couple of times last fall to photograph it.
Whether it’s the influence of other photographers or things in life, what really inspires you to take photographs?
I was very interested in photography when I was eighteen, but didn’t have the money for it, let alone much access to a darkroom and film, so I sort of abandoned it. A few years ago, I went to Artomatic, a month long art festival in DC, which had 70,000 visitors and about 700 artists.
Artists are assigned space and can do pretty much anything they want. I wanted to sign up for it thinking surely I’d do some art I liked by then. When the time came, I didn’t have anything. That’s when I reached back and looked at some of the stuff I did when I was a teenager and scanned some of the old photographs, then made them into graphic images.
It was so much fun to be part of the community, and I had an incredible time. I remember seeing so many cool photographs/photographers and, at that moment, I thought I should push myself to do it too.
One of the other things that inspired me a lot is Instagram. There’s a vibrant Instagram community out here, and I love how many images you can see from people. You can see their creativity explode.