Photographer of the Week #123: Heather Sten

Heather Sten received her BFA in Photography & Imaging from Art Center College of Design in 2013 in Pasadena, California. She describes her practice as being an organic process, taking a diaristic approach to photography by acting on personal and emotional instincts. Sten currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

“Before The Rain was curated as a fictional story based upon extemporaneous themes that were borne out of a long drive through unfamiliar landscapes. The work is intended to explore discomfort of the uncanny and the sublime cautiously and thoughtfully, tethered by certain elements like nostalgia and familiarity with foreign and exotic landscapes. My imagination was underpinned by a sense of wonder in a new mythology in American landscapes, overgrowth and neglect of surrounding objects and vegetation, and the fragile sense of nostalgia.” – Heather Sten

Sten’s project, Before the Rain takes viewers on a quiet journey through the American landscape. Unlike many photographers who have made similar excursions, Sten’s interpretation is much softer, presenting a palette of pastel tones representative of the overcast light witnessed before rainfall. Color seems to be a very prevalent focus in her work, setting the tone for a calming, peaceful exploration of the states she passes through. Sten’s motivation in this work is not to uncover something specific about her surroundings, but rather to simply document her experiences while traveling. This unrestrained approach allows Sten to photograph more freely without any limitations and, consequently, leave her body of work open to the interpretation of others. There is, however, a subtle narrative at play in these photographs–we follow the journey of an anonymous male figure, who’s face is repeatedly turned in the other direction. From a distance, we watch as he travels to unknown destinations, staying in isolated motels or among suburban neighborhoods.

For a look at more of Sten’s work, please visit her website.