Steph Brandt’s Artist Statement
As a photographer I am inspired by past, pain and the super natural. As a 26 year old female with plenty of emotional baggage and an unfortunate past, I have chosen to let my past go, with a photographic interest that redirects my stress and energy from my own life toward those whom are no longer living their lives.
The past can be a dark and scary place; discovering those who lost their lives and might still be walking among us, somehow makes my life seem mundane; how can I be stressed about the little to severe? When there are spirits of those that have passed, co-existing with the undead, sharing stories that triumph any other.
I am recreating an enthralling space that borders the same level of anxiety and stress that other aspects of life can bring, but toned down to a black and white subject matter than isn’t so personal to me. Layered photographs of my own hauntings, lost in someone else’s. I tone the photographs to black and white as it relates to my once diagnosis of a black and white personality, unable to see the gray area. I am forcing layers together to push forth that gray area that I was told I couldn’t see on my own. For some these places and experiences are very real and personal. For me, it is an interest in exploring the lives of those less fortunate than myself, because I am still alive and I still have time.
I use the spaces as a therapeutic environment, capturing current photos of popularly discussed haunted places, retelling the story as a photographic space to enter, a story that so many people share. Let go of one’s own life and experience the pain and never dying journey of someone else’s. Layered in the black and white compositions is the word “re-visualization,” a strikingly personal word for me or anyone who has been through trauma and asked to “re-visualize” the situation and share what one sees. Recalling mental images and making them visible, I hide my own visualizations deep within someone else’s.
Since the beginning of my interest in photography, I have been inspired by the black and white photographs of Anthony Goicolea and his raw photographs that deal with issues of androgyny, homosexuality, and child sexuality. In my most recent years I have been inspired by Cole Thompson, who masters fine art black and white photographs and also dabbles in spirit photography.
Looking at the photographs, I draw myself into the space, the haunted, the eerie, the unknown….anything to escape my own world and remind myself that I still have time here, time to help others, time to be happy, time to share experiences like no other through the eye of a lens. Standing in front of the images wasn’t enough; I wanted to be there even when I wasn’t, I wanted the viewer to see my presence, myself looking in on painful past covered in the hauntings of Milwaukee.