We recently had the great opportunity to interview our latest LomoAmigo, Tim Kerr. While his repertoire stretches back to the late 1970’s and includes that of musician, artist, painter, photographer, skater and many other things, he just prefers Tim! We gave him a La Sardina DIY, which he not only added his own style to, but shot some excellent photos with as well. Rife with candid and thoughtful answers, we expect everyone will glean a nugget of wisdom and leave with a smile.
Can you share with us a bit about yourself and your history?
My name is Tim and I play music, make art, and take photos…..because like breathing, I have to. My history is best found at www.timkerr.net.
In what ways did growing up in Texas effect and/or inspire your artistic endeavors?
Texas is a wide open attitude, and people tend to put their cards on the table right off. I was born and raised here so the attitude and the way I approach things is definitely a “Texas” thing but, as far as my art, I think that comes more from being a child of the 60’s. There was so much visuals happening on TV, magazines, the news, that had a lot to do with my visual vocabulary. Both my parents worked in the public schools. One was an elementary school librarian and one an elementary school principal and the visuals from staying after school with them had a lot to do with my visual vocabulary as well.
Your artistic expression manifests itself in many mediums — from music and sound to painting, photography and beyond. That being said, do you prefer a certain medium over the others? And if so, why?
If self expression is suppose to have no boundaries, then why put limits on yourself? Self expression is self expression period. We ALL have our own if we choose to participate. Painting, music, the way you dress yourself, the way you move, skating, surfing, music, writing, taking photos, etc…. all coming from the same place within. I have never made a big distinction between the music I do, the art, or the photos. I remember back when I was in school and someone who had no idea that I played music, or that that was such a big part of me, said they heard music when they saw the paintings I did. That made and makes me smile.
Dovetailing off the last question, do you find there is a reciprocal relationship that takes place throughout your work (between the mediums)?
Like I said above, it’s all related for me since the source comes from within.
What first sparked your interest in photography and what was the first camera you ever used?
Pretty sure I might have had a “Swinger” polaroid in junior high or high school but I got my first real camera (SLR), when I was awarded a Ford Foundation Grant in college. I had signed up for the photography classes in the art department where I was getting my degree and I used some of the money from the award for the camera. The teacher was Garry Winogrand and I was in his classes for 3 or 4 semesters. To be honest, at the time, I had no idea who he was. Being in his class was like when you have always felt something and then you see a sentence that sums up what you have felt. It’s like…OH! That’s how you say that. I had always seen lots of things as “photos”, but it was not until his classes that it presented itself as an action that I could actually act on.
Being a “street photographer,” one often doesn’t have time to plan (or even think about) a shot — how do you think this lends itself to the photograph?
It’s funny. The whole time I was in those photography classes (‘75-’78), I never heard the term “street” (smile). For me, going out and taking photos is like a treasure hunt all the time. You keep your eyes/mind wide open and stay aware of what’s being presented to you. The trick is to snap the photo when the opportunity presents itself.
Can you tell us about the first time you were introduced to Lomography?
When the DIY movement started up again in the late 70’s, I became really involved and busy musically. The camera was sadly put aside even though I still saw things as photos. There was a Fisher Price pixel vision video camera craze with me and some friends in the late 80’s. Then a Holga phase in the early/mid 90’s but nothing really stuck. I was asked to record a band in São Paulo (early 2000’s) and I knew that I wanted to look for the graffiti that OsGemeos were doing while there. We bought a digital camera that had a good zoom for the trip and that’s when photography “stuck” again. I would get frustrated when I was in cities and I could not really catch people in the streets because digital was not fast enough at the time. I then started looking online and keeping up with digital photography trends and equipment, but not film. I remember seeing Diana and Holga cameras for sale in Urban Outfitters in New York, but as far as the Lomo connection, it was a friend I met in LA (mid 2000). He was a photographer, and he was being supplied/sponsored by Lomography to use their cameras in his photo shoots.
What was it like shooting with the La Sardina and the LC-A 120?
Pretty easy (smile). It’s like a point and shoot, but you have to pay attention to your distance settings if you want something to be in focus.
What artists/photographers inspire you to keep creating?
John Coltrane’s music (big smile). I am always inspired by what my friends are doing. I like looking at both black & white and color photos, but I REALLY love color photos. That said, I also really love the photos and story of Vivian Maier. That was pretty inspirational to me. I like the obvious, Fred Herzog, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, but am constantly looking for the not so obvious. The idea that if you just open up, anything around you can be art and music. When you truly understand that concept deep within, inspiration to keep putting one foot in front of the other is everywhere!
What is something you want to photograph but haven’t had the chance to yet?
Tomorrow and Easter Island! ……oh and the Lomography photo road trip you guys/gals should set up (big smile).
What’s next for you?
A group show in early April at Beams Cultuart in Tokyo and a solo show at the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery late April. Shows at Needles and Pens in SF and a show in Dallas in June. After that, …..more shows, more playing music with friends, more art, more photos, etc….. “there’s a lot of todays between now and tomorrow” (Dan Higgs).
Thanks again to Tim Kerr for taking time from his busy schedule to chat with us and for his fantastic contribution to the world of music, art and photography. Keep up the good work, Tim!