Artist Spotlight: Preston Gannaway

Preston Gannaway is a Pulitzer Prize-winning documentary photographer and artist. Photos from her series ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ will be on view on the SVLA1 screen in Downtown Los Angeles until April 1, 2018.

Can you summarize ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’?

‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ is a documentary project on the changing character of a working-class seaside community located along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The work explores residents’ relationship to the natural environment and a changing American neighborhood that has become a collision of class.

Golf cart social, 2010 © Preston Gannaway

Briefly describe the Chesapeake Bay community. What made Chesapeake Bay stand out to you in ways other towns didn’t?

Ocean View is a neighborhood situated along the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in the city of Norfolk, Virginia. I first started this project when I moved to the neighborhood for a job in 2009. I was immediately drawn to the quirkiness and diversity of the residents. The Ocean View community is quite diverse and has a real live and let live vibe. I was also taken by the natural beauty and how that interplays with modern surburban life.

Plankers, 2012 © Preston Gannaway

What is something that makes you excited about your job to this day?

Both the act of creating and the chance to connect with people and parts of life that I never would otherwise.

What types of emotions do you experience while behind the lens during your projects?

The entire range I guess! It depends on the story. I don’t think there’s an emotion I haven’t felt while photographing.

The genie and the sumo wrestler, 2009 © Preston Gannaway

If you could go back and do something differently during one of your projects, what would it be?

That’s a tough question. I try to be as accepting as possible of the choices I make at the time. But juggling personal and paying work as an independent artist is always tough and I’m often wishing I had spent my time differently. Something is always sacrificed and that can cause regrets.

What do you look for when searching for a photography subject?

I really want an element of surprise. I want my work to embrace nuance and challenge people’s perceptions. I also think there’s a longing for beauty and intimacy that often comes through in my projects.

Pieces of the sky, 2010 © Preston Gannaway

Read more about Preston Gannaway and her many projects on her website, and see more of her work on her Instagram. Her work will be showcased on the SVLA1 screen at the Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown LA until April 1.