Lou Rouse is a Baltimore-bred / New York-based photographer who has been working on his craft since moving to the city at 20 years old. Lou brings up the bountiful opportunities that inspire response in the city – from the various active creative venues to the uniquely diverse and energetic character of the city. He strives to depict and describe the intangible in his work, eschewing more obvious images for interesting emotions of environments and specific passing moments in time. In our dialogue below, Lou breaks down some powerful aspects and responsibilities of art in relation to surrounding social environments. We’ve been fortunate enough to have collaborated with Lou before, and we’re looking forward to more opportunities to do so in the future. Check the word!
People get uncomfortable around art and artists because of [the power of art], and because art is not empirical. But because art succeeds where politics and policy fail, art plays a critical role in the survival of humanity. So artists must take care of themselves and other artists. Artists must learn how to survive in the current system while making the good work that will change it.
– Lou Rouse
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
LR: I am from Baltimore, Maryland. Grew up in the city until I was 17. Went to college in Michigan for a year and then moved to NYC at age 20 and have pretty much been here ever since. Worked on films and other odd jobs, then I started assisting fashion photographers. Being a visual person, I really got in to how photographers brought a vision to a set and carried it out with the help of other talented visual people. Eventually people began to ask me for my vision on creative projects, and that is where I happily am now.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
LR: Reflection and response are crucial elements of art, of being an artist. For me, and I’m sure many other artists, the desire is to balance intake and output. In New York City you can consume a lot of great theater, museum and gallery shows, fashion, music, food, or just walk around and be inspired by the fantastic diversity and energy. It’s enjoyable just to witness…but if you are a creative type you begin to feel frustrated if you are not responding in some form. I’m always challenging myself to respond more and to better articulate my observations. But to survive as an artist you have to make the process enjoyable. It’s a tricky balance.
How does your work fit in with that definition?
LR: An important part of my work is capturing the emotion of an environment, form and moment. I’m really fascinated when there is this intense feeling in the light, facial expression, lines, movements or gestures, but I can’t fully explain where that emotion is coming from. If a photo is obvious to me I delete it. All the pieces you see here are me trying to describe things that are intangible and moving to me.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?