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Todd Antony began his career by photographing successful campaigns for brands like Sony, Amazon, Audi, Nestlé, and the BBC. His transition from commercial work to a personal practice has garnered attention for projects that shed light on unseen parts of society, and the interesting ways in which he captures unique cultures flourish and unfold.
To better understand his recent work, we caught up with Antony to discuss storytelling through images and his series “The Sun City Poms” and “Headless in Vegas” which will be on view at The Bureau in Paris today through February 9.
WHITEWALL: What stories do you like to tell most through photography?
TODD ANTONY: There can be a lot of doom and gloom in the world, especially after a year like 2016, which seemed to be throwing curveballs at an alarming rate. So I think it’s even more important in periods like that to shine a light on both the diversity and uniqueness of the people and cultures that make up the world. The environment is also something else I would like to tackle in my work down the road. I’ve got a couple of ideas bouncing around my head at the moment, but nothing crystallized just yet. We’re bombarded by imagery more than ever these days, so it’s important to come up with something that will cut through.
WW: Could you tell us a bit about the photographs at the Bureau later this month?
TA: “The Sun City Poms” series came about during a trip to the U.S. about five years ago when I was on a month long road trip in the U.S. shooting landscape work for my portfolio. I stopped at a motel in Sun City in Arizona as I was passing through one evening, and after doing a little research on my laptop about it, I ended up staying for three days wandering around shooting the city itself because it’s so unique in its geography and aesthetic.
Sun City is a retirement city of around 35,000 people and you have to be over the age of 55 to live there. Researching a little more about the city, I came across the Sun City Poms cheerleading group, who are made up of ladies aged from 58-83 years of age. They train twice a week and perform numerous times every year. While I didn’t necessarily start out with a message in mind other than to show how unique and inspirational these ladies are, while I was there shooting, I couldn’t help but think that with the American obsession for child beauty pageants, you have one age group of society trying to grow up way too fast, while at the other end of the age scale, another group strives to hold back the years in some way. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition worth thinking about.
WW: And what about the series, “Headless in Vegas”?
TA: The “Headless in Vegas” series was similar in that it was on a trip to Vegas that it first popped into my head, before thinking on it and going back some time later to shoot it. Street characters proliferate the Vegas strip working on a “photos-for-tips” basis. The people who inhabit them vary greatly. For some, it’s a full time job, some part-time as a second job. Others are homeless, some illegal immigrants. The costumes provide a thin veneer to our beloved super heroes and cartoon characters, the costumes often poor, disheveled imitations, held together with gaffa tape in places. They are a fitting metaphor for the glitz and bustle of the Vegas strip. Walk a few blocks off the Strip and large empty and abandoned lots are many. A reminder of failed ideas and dreams that never came to fruition. Despite the ramshackle nature of most of the costumes, people seem happy to suspend their disbelief while they have their photos taken with them, not giving a passing thought to the person inhabiting the costume.