Born and raised in northeastern South Dakota, Heather Chilson moved to Arkansas in 2005. Since childhood, photography had always played an important part in her life as a hobby, but it grew into a passion.
Originally embracing digital photography for its ease, she eventually became frustrated having a camera full of images that she never had time to download and edit. Switching to film cameras dating from as far back as the 1930’s, she intentionally slowed down to improve her process.
Influenced by photographers such as Imogen Cunningham, Garry Winogrand, Todd Hido, Vivian Maier, Alec Soth, Jane Rule Burdine and Geoff Winningham because their work evoke emotions and feelings about time and place within her, Heather finds inspiration to use her stark, matter-of-fact approach in compositions that she feels also speaks to the viewer.
Chilson was selected in 2017 to attend “The Troubled Landscape” workshop in Paris, France with photographer Todd Hido.
In my photographs I intentionally show the impact of time and the scars that its passage brings to objects once perceived to be “perfect”: rust on metal, broken glass fallen from windows, rotted boards on a building, moss on wood or stone. It’s these perceived imperfections that create the beauty of my world and begin to provide me with a story for these objects. As the story takes shape in my mind, I also think about why the subject was abandoned…who owned it? Did it bring them happiness or sadness? What were the circumstances that could have put this subject in my path in such an unrepairable, yet beautiful, state? Finally, I picture the subject in a photo from another time, decades ago, perhaps when it was new.
All of this creates its history and helps me make a connection with the subject, gives it a story and therefore a life in my mind’s eye.
Once I see it alive with a history, I am able to capture the beauty of its age.