Lucas DeShazer is a photographer born and still living in Portland, Oregon, USA. As he makes a living by developing softwares, he mainly shoots on large format focusing on the landscapes of his region. In his series Waves of Change, he reflects on the changing place of Oregon, but also in his life.
Can you give us some background information about how you got to photography?
The memory of it is hazy for me at this point. When I was a kid I wanted to make backgrounds for my computer like the landscapes I found online, including digital ones from websites like Digital Blasphemy. At some point I spent quite a bit of time trying to recreate landscapes with recorded elevation data and 3d rendering programs and eventually had the realization that I could probably just get out of the house and take a picture of it with a camera. Eventually, I was introduced to “conceptual” photography (in a very loose sense) and realized that photographs didn’t have to be “real”.
Born and raised in Oregon, you’ve been photographing this area since always, what makes this place so special to you?
There’s a very special mythos of the American west that keeps me here. Open public space and the idea of the “frontier” (no matter how gone it actually is) feel very western.
“I think Shore’s work made me feel like the photographer wasn’t even there, the image just existed for me to step into, and that was sort of a revelation for me”.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time driving around the US and once I’m east of the Rockies it feels like something inside of me has died a little bit.
Tell us more about your series Waves of Change
Waves of Change was my first “real” attempt at a project. Most of the images were made around the time where a lot of my family was dying rapidly – both of my mother’s siblings died within a year or so of one another, followed by my father’s only brother, and then shortly after my father died very unexpectedly. It’s my visual and emotional response to feelings of the world changing rapidly around me without the ability to influence the change myself. It’s also somewhat about my feelings towards a changing Oregon and the rapid gentrification of Portland – the old is out, the new is in, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
You mention Stephen Shore as one of your influences, what did you learn from his work?
He was the first photographer that really hit me on the side of the head, emotionally. I really connected with the feelings that came through his images despite them being somewhat “formal”, they were some of the first images that I remember really feeling a part of instead. As a kid I looked at a lot of historical images, browsing through the Library of Congress collections and looking at early images of the Columbia River Gorge by old folks like Carleton Watkins, and these always had a sort of looking-back feeling to me – obviously they’re historical now, but even with that in mind, I never felt like i was “walking into” the images, just observing them through the photographer’s perspective. I think Shore’s work made me feel like the photographer wasn’t even there, the image just existed for me to step into, and that was sort of a revelation for me.
What are your current project, are you working on a specific body of work?
I’m kind of a shoot-shoot-shoot photographer, always taking pictures but maybe not for specific projects. I tend to sort things out long after I take them and try to use the images as my guide for themes I saw but perhaps didn’t realize at the time. Right now I’m trying to organize a lot of images I shot in Nevada over the past 3 years into a set. Lots of graffiti and roadkill.
Enjoy more on his website.