Olivia Locher, LomoAmigo, pop-daredevil, and conceptual fine art photographer, shared with us some details about her new photo book I Fought The Law, a brilliant collection of photographs depicting the weirdest and most bizarre laws in all 50 states. She recently had her very first solo exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City. These photographs were taken at the exhibition on opening night.
We understand since we last spoke you were working on this book, can you tell us a little about it and what exactly made you want to "fight" the law?
I was shooting a friend for my thesis project at SVA back in 2012. Out of nowhere, he told me “It is illegal to have an ice-cream cone in your back pocket.” It’s really strange because our conversation quickly moved onto other topics but that thought haunted me for several months after, I knew I needed to do something with it. I started the project by doing research and found there was an overload of very interesting old laws. I decided to create one image per US state in my home studio in NYC.
How did you find these odd laws and what information did you inquire?
The first thing I discovered was websites such as DumbLaws.com and other blog posts. I was also lucky to find two books published by Scholastic on the subject, the first produced in 1978. I used many sources for finding the laws and what I found interesting was the lack of fact-checking in all of them. I eventually decided to work with a fact checker to decode each law. I decided to leave my findings ambiguous because I realized I liked the long history of these “laws” being very hard to figure out. Including fact checking information also felt like I was working on a different project.
How was the process of making the book different than just shooting a project?
When I make work I always tend to think of how it will fit into a book. When I first arrived in NYC in 2009, the very first place I discovered was Dashwood Books on Bond Street. As a young college student I started growing a modest art book collection, being around wonderful books naturally made me consider how all of my projects would work in this format. Before starting this project I knew it’s resting place would be in a book.
Were there any laws that were more challenging to visualize as opposed to others and how did you address that?
Each of them was super interesting to visualize and in a sense, they all created very strange and fun shooting scenarios. I view each shoot as a complete adventure. Some of these images were made in makeshift studios outdoors, others required difficult props, etc. A particularly tough one was Delaware’s law on consuming perfume. I knew I wanted to shoot a Chanel No 5 bottle but I didn’t realize how hard they are to open up. For days I attacked this bottle of perfume with a wine opener, after finally succeeding at removing the top I was able to wash out the bottle and fill it with apple juice.
How long did it take you to curate this book?
A conversation with Chronicle about the book opened up in 2014 and it took me until 2016 to finish shooting the work. Things moved quickly after I signed the contract. The book went into production in 2016 and now here it is!
We appreciate your satirical view on life and how it manifests in your photographs, do you think that's what makes these images work so well?
I hope everyone can see themselves in these photographs. I am interested in how this subject matter can affect all of our own daily lives. Can something so subtle have such a large impact of consequence? I’ve always been inspired by people who beat to their own drum and the eccentric nature of these laws was very fun to portray.
What advice do you have for fellow photographers and where they can attain unique and exciting inspiration from?
I always tell young photographers to shoot EVERYTHING that inspires them. It’s easy to get put into a box and think you need to develop a style early on, you don’t. I think the beauty of photography is that it is exciting! I’m in a habit of carrying around simple disposable 35mm cameras and use them as a way to document my life and make notes. I get so inspired having the power to freeze an image in time. Photographers should also allow themselves to be sponges and absorb in all the media they can handle. You never know when inspiration will strike so be ready for it and trust your ideas.
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