Once known for it’s shrouded noir romanticisim, the Hitchcock-esque classiness which was replaced with the easily marketable “free spirit” it’s known for today. San Francisco, without question, has undergone relentless change. As a result, the discrepency between those who have and have-not has never been so apparent. This is an exotic place of culture, lusts, desires, the extremes of our humanity.
We had a chat with Aaron Godwin to talk about his new street photo project on San Francisco.
What is this project about and how many issues do you plan on releasing?
Since beginning to photograph in SF, I’d always wanted to do a book on the city. Originally my plan was to make a massive photo-book, some 200+ pages. After some thought I felt that something more episodic would be better, like in a magazine format, where each issue would be based on a loose theme, therefore keeping the project interesting for me and fresh for viewers. I’m unsure how many issues I want to make. Once I become bored with a project, I stop. Currently I have 4 issues, working on #5 currently, and plan to release one a month.
Why San Francisco? What feeling do you have about this city?
Firstly, because SF is there. Its accessible, its unique culture and people, its drama, excitement; To me it represented everything that my suburban hometown lacked, and that I desperately sought. But my feelings towards the city are indifferent. My relationship began with an infatuation for the eccentricity and now has started to flare out, I think it’s inevitable that you’ll become tired of a place you spend so much time in. There’s also the political factor, which I think in a place like San Francisco cannot be ignored, although this isn’t the theme of the project, its effects are always present. A housing shortage has caused extreme homelessness, the city continues its self-serving policies, and massive tax cuts for businesses, along with many other factors, of course, have turned much of the city into a gentrified cesspool of tech-bro culture and rich white yuppies who shit up Dolores Park talking about “scalability”. This is not the romantic city shown on postcards, maybe it never was.
What is the connection between your photographs and SF?
I would say there’s more of a disconnect between my pictures and the city, which could be the connection, in some ironic kind of way, I guess. My photos tend to be more gritty than how SF is regularly shown, but for me that’s how I see the city. Its filthy sidewalks, graffiti-covered windows and bus stops, dingy alleys—it’s a fixation for me.
Photography for me is a way to project myself into a world, or scene, or somebody’s life, I would otherwise have no communication with.
What dragged you to communicate mostly through black-and-white photography in your work?
Well, I was never a good writer, I was mediocre at drawing and painting too, so naturally I started taking pictures. I remember reading an interview with Moriyama where he was asked a similar question and he replied something like “because black and white is sexy”. I think that’s a better answer than I could give, but I work in this style because it’s the only way I can communicate. There are elements in B&W that you cannot achieve in color photographs. For instance, I love deep shadows and rich blacks. These are an aesthetic preference but also an emotional response as well, and can help convey fear, or anxiety, or memory, etc. B&W exists to express these. Photography for me is a way to project myself into a world, or scene, or somebody’s life, I would otherwise have no communication with.
Aaron Godwin works as a sports photographer based in the Bay Area covering high school and college sports. His passion, however, remains in fine art photography. His projects include a wide range of subjects from political protests, to a recent theater production, to the wildfires of Sonoma County. We recently featured some of his work: Santa Rosa, Oakland Anti Trump Rally and San Jose Anti Trump Rally.
To see more of Aaron’s work:
WEBSITE – INSTAGRAM