Who are you?
My name is Nicholas Mehedin and I was born and raised in the very small town of Eldred, New York. I received my BFA in Photography from SUNY New Paltz in 2015.
When did you first get into photography?
I first started making photographs in a digital photography course when I was in 10th grade. I started to receive awards from my images and decided to peruse it at the collegiate level.
What was the process like for arriving at the idea of your thesis?
Difficult to say the least. I shot a lot of 4x5 negatives that weren’t used for anything. I think I had to shoot images that didn’t relate to my thesis in order for me to understand it better.
Why did you title it 'Halfway Home'?
The series is entitled “Halfway Home” because it is a documentation of person and place, specifically my home of Eldred. Eldred is populated with blue-collar men who believe your worth is built by the sweat on your brow. These men perform grueling hours of manual labor in pursuit of the “good life.” But, I believe they are crippled by the post-industrial remnants that surround them. So Halfway Homecomes from their perception of what they want their home to be and what their home actually is.
What do you want people to take away from these images?
It is really up to the viewer to decide what they want to take away. I know that personally I’m fascinated with the how images address the convoluted ethos of the American dream and how technology is superseding it. Hard work is no longer rewarded, but rather having the new best app or idea is the road to success.
You refer to your process as making photographs. Others often refer to the act as taking photographs. Is there a difference to you?
I think to say “taking a photograph” implies a level of spontaneity or an immediate response that instructs one to photograph, which I think is prevalent with many photographers in the age of iPhone photography and digital cameras. That’s not to dismiss the act, as it is an integral part of contemporary photography. I prefer to say, “making a photograph" because its indicative of the view camera process. It’s not a huge distinction that I emphasize, just a personal preference. Similar to how Gregory Crewdson hates the word “photo."
This series connected to the American dream and I know you are working on another series based around the American flag. Where do you think your fascination of creating work based around American themes comes from?
I think my fascination with American themes stems from being born into a period of technological transition and where I was raised. The people around me identified with the ethos of the American dream, where hard physical work is rewarded. But the ideology has been morphed by Internet and iPhones where success is now achieved through ideas or social buzz. Its something I’m still unpacking, but the American flag series came from the redundancy associated with the contemporary iconography of the American flag. I’m still working on compiling that though.
Were there any photographers who played a role in inspiring these images - whether visually or conceptually?
Yeah, for visual inspiration I looked at a lot of Stephen Shore and Alec Soth. Curran Hatleburg’s work was really beneficial as well. But, Bryan Schumaat’s, Gray The Mountain Sends, was the biggest piece of inspiration for me.
If you were given a grant to continue this project in any manner you desired, how would you proceed next?
I would most definitely head to down south. I have only been to New Orleans, but it was an amazing experience photographically and I think there would be a lot of people that follow the same American dream ethos of my hometown.
What do you think you learned from making this body of work that you’ll bring into future projects?
It taught me how to create a series or project and be very critical about it and what kind of questions to ask myself during its development. I think now I’m much more aware of the effects images have with one another rather than on their own. @nickmehedin / www.nickmehedin.com