Tanner Almon & His Mum.
Tanner takes an instant photo every single day and sends it to his mum to review and name it. I like this. He’s also a super cool and friendly guy. Tanner asked santa for a Fuji Instax mini camera this year so that he could take a photo everyday for 2010. He also wanted to cover an entire wall of his apartment with photos, either way im liking where this is going…..Oh yeah and Tanner also went on a roadtrip a few years back from Baltimore to Los Angeles with his goldfish. His name was Bert. I had the pleasure of hooking up with Tanner to exchange a few words and ideas.
Whats up tanner hows it going today? Anything exciting going on for you today?
Hi Edd, I’m doing great. I’m so thrilled that this rather silly project I’ve been doing with my mom (or mum) is being featured on Mint Magazine! Seriously, my wife and I had a mini-dance party in our kitchen when I told her about this interview. There was a light up frisbee and everything. Other than this interview I’m afraid that there is not too much exciting stuff going on for me today. A few days back I broke my wrist while shooting what I guess you could call a promotional video for My Mom Reviews My Photos. As a result, I spent most of this morning in a waiting room waiting to see a “hand specialist”. Tonight should be a bit more exiting as my wife and I are going to be wandering around our neighborhood testing out an old school VHS camera that I recently acquired. We might have some pizza too, I’m pretty excited about that. Maybe we will videotape ourselves eating the pizza.
Your project in which your mum reviews your daily photos is really exciting, care to tell us all about it?
I’d be happy to. Basically every day I take a photo with my Fuji Instant Camera, scan it, and email it to my mum (I like how you guys say it better) for a “review” of sorts. Her reviews typically include the following…
1. a title for the photo,
2. a unique commentary that may or may not have anything to do with the photo, and
3. a Toby Score
The “Toby Score” is similar to the star system used to rate movies except that my mum has replaced stars with her lovable little dog Toby. From what I can tell 1 Toby is usually bad and 5 Tobys is usually good. I say “usually” because sometimes her Toby Score seems to directly contradict the rest of her review. Once I receive her review I post it to My Mom Reviews My Photos along with the corresponding photo.
Where did the idea for this come from?
Haha! It’s actually a bit of an embarrassing story. It all started this past Christmas when I was home for the holidays with my family. I had purchased my mum and sisters some cute furry winter hats shaped like mouse ears. Sadly, they did not perceive the hats as being cute at all, in fact, they really hated them. “You only got us these hats to take stupid photos” they yelled, adding “we can’t wear these dirty furball hats publicly!”. All three immediately refused the hats by literally throwing them at me. A few days later my wife and I packed the car, furball hats and all, and headed back home. It only made sense that my first “daily photo” of 2010 would involve my lovely wife Vicki wearing a “dirty furball hat”. We pulled over at a rest stop, took the photo, and continued home. Naturally the first thing I did when I walked in the door was scan the photo and email it to my mum. She replied with a few choice words and My Mom Reviews My Photos was born.
How long have you been going?
We actually just passed the 8 month mark a few days ago. Only four months to go! Not sure if we will keep this going in 2011 or not as it actually takes quite a bit of time and my mum has been threatening to quit ever since this project started. A few days a week she emails me saying my photo is too similar to the previous photo and that she can’t possibly give it a review. Of course a few minutes later I always get an email with a fresh review. She’s awesome.
The camera you use, what is it and how does it work?
The camera is a Fuji Checki Instax Mini 55. It is a very cute little camera that looks rather “cartoony”. It takes Fuji Instax Mini instant film that is similar to Polaroid 600 film except for the fact that it is less than half the size. I honestly would have preferred to be doing this project with Polaroid film, which I absolutely adore, but financially it just was not going to happen. The Instax Mini comes to less than a dollar a shot which is pretty awesome.
Do you have a personal favourite photo that your mum has reviewed?
Wow, that’s a tough one. They have definitely gotten better with time but picking a favorite is probably an impossible task. We recently shot some photos in a woods near where I grew up that I really like. My favorite of those was probably one my mum named ANOTHER “GRIMM” TALE. And recently we did a series of photos with an abandoned lounge chair that we found near our apartment that I really like. If I had to pick one from that series I’d probably go with NOT ANOTHER STEPHEN SLATER.
The Stephen Slater photo is a perfect example of why this project, at least to me, is interesting. Only my mum would look at a photo of my wife popping out of a folded up lounge chair and somehow relate that to the flight attendant who recently made headlines here in the U.S. for going a little crazy on a plane.
On a recent phone call with my mum she told me that her favorite photo was another from the lounge chair series that she named There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home. In the photo my wife and I are hiding behind the chair spying on a little robotic Saint Bernard puppy named Rigby that we have had for years. I asked my mum why it was her favorite and she said “because it seems like Rigby is a real live dog now and I liked how I made a connection between Wizard of Oz Hats and Furball Hats”.
Whats the best and worst review your mum has given you on your photos?
Hmm… another tough one. In terms of “best” I really liked her review for a photo she named THE NEXT U.S. VIRTUAL BOBSLED TEAM.
The photo in question is above at the top and involved my wife sitting in a pink trunk attempting to parallel park between two cars. What I really liked about this review in particular was that my mum did not realize that Vicki was parallel parking until she was half-way through writing her review. Rather than going back and starting over with a new review she just kept going with it, literally changing her train of though mid-sentence. One second the review was about bobsleds and the next it was about getting parking tickets in New York. My mum says with pride that she doesn’t spend more than five minutes on any of her reviews and I believe it.
In terms of a “worst” review I’d have to go with ORANGE CRUSH simply because a few weeks after her review we actually did get bed bugs, which I can honestly say are the most terrifying creatures on earth.
Another “worst” was her recent review of the footage of me breaking my wrist. She basically calls me pathetic for failing to jump over my tiny wife when someone like Evil Knievel could jump over 18 trucks.
HAHA she’s got a point man! I noticed that besides your review project you also have some lets say ‘more polished’ work up online, some pretty trippy ideas?
where do your ideas come from man?
Man, I wish I knew. My mum says that she deserves all credit for my creativity because she kept me busy with arts and craft projects as a kid, specifically building bird feeders and basket weaving. I personally sometimes question how much my basket weaving skills have really influenced my work, but she’s my mum, so she’s gotta be right… right?
That being said I think that most of my ideas have something more to do with me not wanting to let go of my childhood. I have a very strong affinity to certain objects that I grew up around such as polaroid cameras, typewriters, and hula hoops. One of my most vivid recurring childhood memories is of me sitting at the kitchen table drawing pictures of robots on my etch-a-sketch while listening to the beautiful sound of my mum punching away at her typewriter. I’m a very nostalgic person and get really excited when I’m around any of these objects and thus it only makes sense that they frequently show up in my “work”.
My affinity towards these obsolete objects extends to places and people as well. My favorite locations to shoot are places such as deserts, abandoned trailers, old motel rooms, and unkempt backyards – all of which are places that, at least to me, seem to be from a much more “pure” era. Just as with obsolete objects I also feel a very strong emotional attachment to the quiet and lonely beauty of these “forgotten” places. I guess you could say that I just like old, worn-out, and forgotten things and places.
Now on to the characters who fill these forgotten places, my favorite part of the idea process. I really love dreaming up colorful characters that are, how should I say this… a bit “off”. Once the characters have been created I enjoy putting them in peculiar situations that hopefully provoke a sense of “wonderful curiosity” inside the mind of the viewer. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where the ideas for the people in my photos come from. I think for the most part I get my ideas from either people I meet or from rummaging through wardrobe racks at thrift stores.
Finally, one final childhood memory that has definitely played out through much of my work is the anticipation of Christmas morning. Nothing, except for maybe having a baby, will ever compare to the incredible excitement of the last hour or so before my parent’s let me out of my room to go open my presents. Finding out that there was allegedly no Santa is easily one of the two or three most traumatic events of my life so far (I know, I’ve obviously had an easy life). I think in a subconscious effort to hold onto the excitement of Christmas I have shot quite a few projects, mostly films, that somehow allude to Christmas. For example, in a spec music video I shot for the Modest Mouse song Wild Pack of Family Dogs my dad reluctantly portrays a disgruntled mall Santa. And if you look closely at the background of my Baltimore Breakup photo series you will see some specifically placed retro Christmas decorations and a Christmas Tree. I really, really, LOVE old Christmas lawn ornaments!!! This may be stretching it a bit but I really think that the main reason I still prefer shooting on film as often as possible has less to do with my love of film and more to do with my love of the anticipation of picking my film up from the lab. To me, the excitement of walking to the lab to pick up my film is perhaps my most favorite part of the “process”. It is as close as I’ve ever been able to get to the feeling I had on Christmas morning as a kid.
what does a photoshoot usual involve for you?
A photo shoot for me pretty much always involves the following…
1. Formulating a vague “idea” or “concept” for a shoot. These usually come to me while lying in bed at night not being able to sleep. I usually try to think of a location first and work from there.
2. Driving around to various thrift stores with my wife looking for props and wardrobe that I think will fit with my “idea”. I’m pretty specific so this step can take a while and is often quite frustrating and fun at the same time.
3. Packing a suitcase with all my thrift store items and heading out to the location with whatever friend or family members I have suckered into being my “talent”.
4. Once at the location I spend quite a bit of time walking around the location, slowly soaking in the surroundings. My original “idea” or “concept” usually evolves to incorporate as many “found” objects as possible.
5. I set my camera up and shoot until I either run out of film or the sun goes down. A lot of times I end up also being in the pictures with my wife so it’s a lot of setting the timer and running. It can be quite exhausting.
6. High fives and hugs all around for surviving another shoot. High fives and hugs are very important.
I hope you wont mind me saying, but your photos have this awesome ‘home made’ kind of vibe to them which still manages to look like a well thought out shoot, its an amazing
Edd, I am so happy you get my ‘home made” vibe. That is 100 percent the vibe I almost always go for. I definitely have a deliberate “amateur” aesthetic that I think can best be explained with an analogy to the dioramas I used to make in elementary school. My favorite dioramas were never the “perfect” ones that had obviously been done by the parents, but rather, I always was drawn to the ones that appeared to be on the verge of falling apart, where you could literally see the glue barely holding things in place. This little glimpse into the process fascinates me, and thus, in my photos and films you will often see things such as small scratches and pieces of dust.
That being said, you are correct, all of my shoots are very planned out, including many of the “imperfections” that you see. While most of my prep is admittedly a bit haphazard, once the shoot nears and I show up at location I spend a TON of time meticulously composing each shot. I am extremely specific about where props are to be placed and what wardrobe my talent should be wearing. Another very important aspect of each shoot for me is color. I always have a very specific color palette in mind right from the get go which can take forever to coordinate when I’m relying primarily on items that I find a thrift stores. Ironically it sometimes seems harder to make something look “hand-made” than it would have been to make it look “neat and tidy”.
Who are the people in your photos?
Haha. I think you probably know the answer to this but literally everyone in my photos thus far has been family and friends. My lovely wife Vicki is in pretty much every damn thing that I do, she is a true CHAMPION!!! She has the patience of a saint and deserves just as much credit as I do for pretty much every project that I’ve ever done.
There are two reasons why I like working with friends and family. For one, I personally feel that working with “non-professional” talent adds a certain level of “awkward charm” to my photography that helps contribute to my aforementioned “amateur” aesthetic. Secondly, until I start getting paid to do this sort of thing I figure I might as well do what I love with the ones I love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tanner mentioned his film work earlier….his stuffs crazy! Check out his Vimeo account by clicking hither.