JONATHAN CHERRY: What got you started with photography?
ANDREW QUERNER: An Olympus Trip 35 was a natural companion on camping excursions on British Columbia’s west coast. The hiking was to be a stepping stone to bigger mountain adventures and photography seemed like the best way to communicate those experiences.
JC: Any emerging artists inspiring you at the mo?
AQ: Rob Hornstra. For his very smart documentary work. On a more daily basis, I am very inspired by the work of my peers. Kari Medig for bringing a much needed hint of understatement to adventure photography. Grant Harder for making the transition from assisting to shooting extremely quickly. And Alexi Hobbs for his Instincts and Convictions. Much to learn from these guys.
JC: Whats your current project all about?
AQ: My current project, The Bread With Honey, explores issues facing the ethnic Albanian populace of Kosovo. On an earlier visit to the country, I happened upon a neglected mine near the divided city of Mitrovica. After some reading, it became evident that the region’s power struggles were reflected quite clearly in the mine’s trajectory through time. For me, this became an opportunity to put a living face to that struggle as it exists today. I hope the pictures, all made in the mine and in the quiet community above, speak to the resilience and dignity of the miners I met and the burden of responsibility they feel for carrying their families through uncertain times.
I also just started a mini project called Prologue. Essentially pretty pictures inspired by my parents’ stories of arriving from their respective countries of Japan and Austria, in Billings, Montana in 1969.
JC: Where are you currently living and how is it shaping you?
AQ: I’m living in Canmore, Alberta. It’s a stone’s throw from Banff National Park. People are very motivated to get after it in the mountains and there is a recreation culture built around that. It can be insular though and in some ways quite homogenous. I miss the diversity of the city and remain torn between this fairytale lifestyle of playing in the hills, and expanding my experience by living in a bigger place. Despite some of these drawbacks, not enough can be said about being part of a community and activity (climbing) that is so vitally connected to its surrounding environment. It’s tuned me in to the humbling power of wilderness- a humility that now travels with me.
JC: Any big plans for 2012?
AQ: I’d like to learn to play the game better. I’ve spent some time figuring out what kind of picture taker I am; now to pursue editorial and commercial gigs more aggressively. Beyond that, I have my first exhibition coming up in February. A recent colour darkroom stint (an experience that should be on every film shooters list) has gotten me excited to continue in that vein. Finally, I’d like to keep exploring portraiture in the form of another ‘chapter’ in my Kosovo work.
JC: Any words of advice to recent photography graduates?
AQ: Palo Woods said it nicely. “Before adding new images to a world which is drowning in images, one has to reflect why one is doing so.” The difference between decoration and art might be in the “why.”
JC: How do you manage to juggle personal and commercial work?
AQ: I have found that most of my commissioned work as come as a result of personal projects. In that sense, the two play nicely together. Each draws from a slightly different skill set which together make me a better photographer. The idea of a commercial gig often means collaboration which can be refreshing in a typically solitary existence. I’d be dishonest if I said that the idea of working commercially didn’t at least partially drive me to continue funding my own personal projects.
JC: Favourite tree?
AQ: Trembling aspen for the auditory benefits. Arbutus for the tactile experience.