No one deserves his day in the sun more than Joshua Black Wilkins. His mission to make photography as real as possible is the reason he is one of Nashville’s most respected artists. It is also why I chased him down to contribute stunning portraits to my book. As JBW explains below, what he does behind the camera is completely opposite from how he learned photography.
You’re such a character.
Joshua Black Wilkins: Can be.
You’ve managed to market the unmarketable: people acting crazy and behaving badly.
JBW: (Laughs) Some people.
What makes you want to shoot someone for personal work?
JBW: Ordinary people, in quotations, parenthesis and italics, are those who are not movie stars or fashion models. I want to find something beautiful and visually interesting about them.
You come from a commercial world where people are constantly airbrushed and made into something that’s almost freakish. Photographing alt models is your way of taking the exact opposite route.
JBW: Exactly. My path was perpetuated by the falseness of that world. Those shoots involve 20-25 people: hair and makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, assistants, managers, art directors, and the dreaded publicist. All these people are there to make something dishonest. Even the sets are bullshit. That really, really rich person doesn’t live in that trailer. The artist dumbs themselves down so the masses can relate.
Now you’re sneering at all those hyper-manufactured holograms.
JBW: Yes! Most of the time, I’m not trying to prove a point. I don’t have a mission statement to give a big “fuck you” to the industry. I don’t like looking at what the average American thinks is beautiful because I know how much work was involved in making something inaccurate. Subconsciously, I am always pushing to the left because I don’t want to be a part of that whole manufacturing plant used to pump out dishonesty.