When I first saw Aaron Hobson’s work, I fell for it right away. The pictures are very immediate—there’s no work to get into them, they’re familiar for anyone who’s spent time picking around America’s rust belt, but you linger for a while and notice the care with details and composition. Photographs as un-captioned movie stills are nothing new, but Hobson’s have a touchable personality that prevents them from feeling aloof.

By his own account, Hobson “grew up in the inner-city of Pittsburgh. My father was a commercial photographer for several fortune 500 companies. I left schooling in 10th grade to pursue the real world. Became a self-taught graphic designer and currently art director since that time. Became a self-taught photographer just under a year ago with my first digital SLR that I still use.”

“Cinemascapes” will go on view November 1st at New York’s Go Fish Gallery. All images © Aaron Hobson, all rights reserved.

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Where does the image begin for you: the setting, the character, a story you’re trying to build?

Definitely the setting. I try to find a location that has interesting natural lighting, stand there for minute, then return to my beaten-up 2001 Hyundai full of old clothes, a shovel, empty wine bottles, duffel bags, McDonald’s bags, and choose what I think might work. It is very spontaneous, almost instinctual. I like to keep the storylines minimal and leave that part to the viewer’s imagination.

How much inspiration does “Cinemascapes” draw from specific films or directors? How much from your own life or where you live?

Hardly any of my images draw from a particular film or director. I did however grow up on movies, television, and computers and was inspired to bring the same appeal that those media deliver—to people of my generation and younger—using still images.

Essentially my cinemascapes are autobiographical. I just tend to exaggerate or embellish my memory of what happened or where it happened. Those that know me well, know that I embellish a lot of things, not just my life’s story.

One thing I particularly like about the series is the scale, how much more interesting the landscape can be than who occupies it. For instance, the couple having sex, did you intend to make them so inconsequential? Or perhaps that’s just my reading…

Actually on that one, my wife and I just got in the way of the camera, but I liked the result.

But seriously, as I stated in my first answer, setting is the beginning of my creative process. I choose a location that I would enjoy visually or that I begin reading into even before the character(s) comes into it. Sometimes the character(s) ends up playing a major role, sometimes they are secondary elements. But I believe both parts are equally important to the image.

What comes next?

That is hard to say, because for me this is just beginning. My first exhibit will be held this November in New York City and I have no idea what to expect, being an isolated mountain man from the remote mountains of northern New York. Having only started this project this year, I do plan on continuing this series for quite a while. The thought of a collaboration between a short story writer and my images in some sort of book form has been at the back of my mind as well. But for now, the answer is Manhattan.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin