• Photo Diary: West Coast Golf

    Photographer and artist Hayley Eichenbaum has knack for capturing the surreality of everyday surrounding. We sent Hayley to capture the otherworldly landscape of West Coast golf courses, where vibrant fairways coexist with desert hills. 
    Photography by Hayley Eichenbaum

    Hi Hayley, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
    I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I attended the San Francisco ArtInstitute as well as the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, graduating with a BFAin Integrated Studio Art. Over the years I have honed an interdisciplinary practice that works to combine installation, live performance, sculpture, time-based media, and photography.

    When did you first start taking photos?
    Photography has played a role in my practice for around 10 years, however it wasn’t until 3 years ago that it became one of my primary mediums.

    Can you walk us through the process of creating one of your photos?
    The sky is a key player in my compositions, so I always begin by checking theweather or seeking out desired weather. I’ve also started a habit of taking road trips for the sole purpose of shooting photos. Sometimes these trips last a day, sometimes a month. There is often a lot of research involved in scouting locations.

    I enjoy the post-production process just as much as I love going out and shooting. Editing is important to me. If I find something distracting or unnecessary to the intended composition, such as telephone lines, I will shop them out. I am also unapologetic when it comes to cropping. The aim is always a clean, to-the point image.

    You shoot a lot of exposures and then narrow down an edit down from there, how do you sort through your photos and how do you know which one is the right choice?
    Often (but not always) there is that magical moment when you’re shooting when you think, “That’s the one.” But because I’m a bit snap-happy, it can take a long time to comb through photos once I’ve uploaded them. When that is the case, I first seek out the images that contain the yummiest colors and the most geometry.

    Outside of photography, your art practice explores notions of femininity in the modern world— do the two practices inform one another? In what ways?
    Over time I have come to realize just how much they are conceptually intertwined. Within my installation and performance-based work, I investigate notions of the feminine façade – the way women, specifically within a western context, use beautification processes to alter their appearance. When I go out shooting, I am looking for scenes that walk the line between authentic and surreal. My interest lies within this sweet spot, where the two sensations overlap. If my photos compel the audience to ask, “Is this real?” then I feel I have achieved my goal.

    Are the any artists or photographers that have been particularly influential
    to your work over the years?
    Cinematic work and the art of set design have heavily influenced my practice within the last couple of years. I admire the way Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch operate: Every frame is carefully considered. The work is commercial but conceptual.

    In addition, Instagram has provided an abundance of inspiration. Two of my
    favorite photographers (who also have fantastic IG accounts) are Jimmy Marble
    and George Byrne. They made me want to move to L.A.

    You moved to Los Angeles recently, has the city impacted your work since
    you’ve been there?
    I have always been interested in a Western “Americana” aesthetic, and this interest has only grown since moving to LA. I think I shoot a lot more now. The colors, architecture, and incredulous scenes of the city set the stage for rich imagery. It’s easy to take for granted a place we’ve lived in for a long period of time; the scenery can become repetitive or dull. I feel that moving to LA has reactivated a sensitivity to my surroundings. Not to mention it has injected a number of palm trees into my work.

    For this particular project, what did you look for when approaching photographing the different locations?
    I explored two golf courses and the surrounding architecture in Palm Springs. I wanted to focus on elliptical shapes reminiscent of the golf ball itself. There was also an effort to capture the visual boundaries between organic and manmade, as golf courses are prime examples of this intersection.

    What’s the last great thing you read?
    Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be? – It’s part novel, part self-help manual, part confessional. I feel its quality of being half truthful/half fictional is a cheeky response to the title.

    Do you have any upcoming projects in the works? 
    I’m currently investing my energy in a collaborative duo named “SETTLE DOWN.” with fellow artist Zachary Swearingen. We are working on a series of aerial shots that depict a character who gets progressively more uncomfortable with the idea of “settling down” – both domestically and physically (in relationship to maturity and energy). The character – played by me and shot by Zachary – is a bit of a social outcast who is trying to come to terms with antiquated and modern ideals. We hope to expand this project from photography to film within the next year.

    Follow Hayley's work on her website and on Instagram
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