A chat with George Potter
In high school, I used to go to the Ohio River to watch the sunset, and I wanted to share what I saw with everybody else in the world. I didn’t have my own camera yet, so I grabbed my parents’ 1-megapixel camera and took it out. The pictures were pretty awful—they were just a smear, but I kind of understood what I was trying to get out of it when I used it.
When my parents started to see that I was interested in photography, they went out and bought me my first SLR camera. I started taking pictures all over the place where I was living—some still lifes, some portrait stuff for a while, some landscape for a while. As I started taking more and more camping trips, I saw the need to focus on landscape photography.
I’m drawn to strangely isolated places that once had a history. It’s not necessarily just landscapes of nature—sometimes it’s landscapes of older factories or trails or memories of trips. I grew up in Madison, Indiana, which is a very historic town with a lot of 1800s-style buildings, and I think my interest grew from there. When I moved to this area, I found a lot of old abandoned furniture factories, and I felt that same creative itch I had in my old hometown—to take pictures of buildings with a sense of history to them.
I took a class in college where I learned to develop film, and it was a really interesting process to me.
For me, the agricultural aspect of life around southern Indiana feels really authentic because what farmers are doing is essential to all human life and has been one of the longest professions. To be in that environment feels really authentic.
I think programming and photography are so disconnected that one inspires the other. One day, I’ll have an itch to do something technical, and on others, I’ll have an itch to do something creative. The reason I turned to film photography is because my job is so technical and rule-based. With film photography, you can throw out all the rules: you get the best shots when you destroy the film, use bad cameras, use chemical processes that shift colors, and just add in that authenticity. Film feels like home, like a memory.