Earlier this year I was introduced to Anna Cox of We Are Juxt. Anna’s photography looks at the neglected and abandoned areas of countryside America. She is a great mobile photographer with an incredible eye for a shot and I recently had the opportunity to find out more about her work.

Cleans Haven by Anna Cox

Cleans Haven by Anna Cox

To begin with could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live outside of Lexington, Kentucky in a small farming community. My house is literally surrounded by farmland on every side. I joke with my west coast friends that I’m just a redneck but I don’t wear overalls (unless I’m painting) and I don’t have a tractor. At the moment, I am a stay home mom of two boys and my days consist of singing silly songs, changing diapers, and doing homework with my older son in between doing things for We Are Juxt. The majority of my family lives in the area so I spend a lot of time with them. I don’t know how it is in other places but here family is the most important thing.  Outside of the home, I volunteer with a anti trafficking group reaching out to women in the adult entertainment industry.

Tell us about some of the places where has your work featured?

Just recently, I had the honor of being in the 1197 show for the MPAs and the Format Festival on EyeEm. I have been in numerous shows with Juxt including one in Mexico and one in Italy. I am amazed my photos have seen so many exotic places!  I am also an editor and contributor for the book Love, a volume of artists across the world that came together to create a book to support a fellow creative during his fight with brain cancer. Out of everything I have been involved in since I joined Juxt,  I am most proud of this project.The opportunity to reach out and help a dear friend is priceless and worth more than 100 gallery shows.

Date Night by Anna Cox

Date Night by Anna Cox

When and how were you introduced to the idea of iPhone Photography?

Well, lets see. Three years ago I saw a friend use instagram as a filter for one of her photos on Facebook. My oldest son and I were taking care of my grandmother in Florida at the time while she was recuperating from heart surgery. Needless to say, I had some downtime on my hands so I downloaded the app and it took off from there.

In the beginning, like most people I took photos of my kid, food, or the dog next door before  I realized the full potential. of what I held in my hand. I became a part of the community on Instagram and I was amazed and blown away by the relationships I formed and how much they genuinely care about me and my family. Some of my most dear and deep friendships have formed because of mobile photography.

Mobile photography always amazes and astounds me in it’s ability to bind us together no matter where we are in the world. This awesome community aside,  I have always loved art and photography. My father exposed me to classic painters and sculptors at an early age. I grew up with a deep appreciation for the creative endeavor and ended up studying art extensively in school.

I love film and the darkroom but the easy nature of a camera as compact as an iPhone is addictive. I love the challenge of the capture with an iPhone taking into account it’s limitations. It keeps me on my toes plus shooting and editing on my phone is much more conducive to my life right now with a one year old.

Ticket Booth by Anna Cox

Ticket Booth by Anna Cox

What subjects fascinate you and how would you describe your style?

I vacillate between loving small town America and abandoned sites. Both have a rich history if you take the time to notice the small details. If I had to choose between the two I would pick abandoned sites because of the mystery locked away behind peeling plaster and broken windows. Many times when I am shooting this type of place I can hear the voices and can imagine children running through the upstairs halls.

My style is documentary for the most part. I stay away from heavy handed edits, in fact i don’t even know how to use a lot of the features in my apps. I think for some the joy is in the post processing but for me the joy is in the original capture. My roll usually reflects the location of my heart.

For the last few months, my life has been full of grief, loss and change so my roll is full of locks, chains and abandoned items. It is not a conscious choice to shoot these things, I just gravitate towards imagery that reflects the state of my life. Photography allows me the chance to turn off my brain and just create. It affords me the space to find images that will help me navigate the world.

Football Sunday by Anna Cox

Football Sunday by Anna Cox

Are there any photographers who have influenced your work or is it something that has been influenced by your surroundings?

I think your location always influences what you create in some form or fashion. You shoot what is readily available to you. For me, the options are rural ones including farms, small towns, and rolling hills. Out of those I choose to document the towns and the crumbling homesteads that are prevalent in my area. It is the history that pulls at me, I think. Last summer, I traveled to New York City and I thought I would be so inspired to shoot the scenes I see photographers upload but more than anything I missed my wide open spaces and sprawling farm houses.

As far as influences, lately I have been looking at the work of Depression Era photographers and the rawness of their images. I don’t shoot portraiture very often but I am fascinated by the degree of emotion and context they were able to capture. I can’t pinpoint any one artist that has influenced my work heavily but I am influenced daily by photos I come across and the masters that came before us. There is a story behind every photo that is taken with intent. I bet that is sort of a cop out but its the truth. There are of course abandon photographers that I admire like Mike Hill (frankensinatra) and Luke Krzystofiak (agentluke) but I do not think I shoot differently because of them. I think we all need to find our own way, build our own story. If we build our creative voice solely on the backs of others it will not ring true. We all have a story to tell, and I think it is up to us to find that voice and the words that best suit.

Family Farm by Anna Cox

Family Farm by Anna Cox

Do you have any incredible encounters or a story that has really become part of your photographic journey?

The first large scale abandoned I shot changed the way I looked at everything. It was an antique mall at one point but had sat vacant for years and  much of the furniture and goods were still inside. The first time I visited a chair with no legs caught my eye and I shot it several different ways, never quite capturing the image the way I wanted. After the shoot, I was unsettled like there was something I was missing. I went back a few weeks later to shoot it again and this time the truth of the chair hit me right in the chest.

At the time, my whole life had been turned on its ear. I was having to learn how to be me again but in a totally different set of circumstances. The image of the chair with no legs stuck with me because it’s form had changed, its original purpose denied but it was still there. It still had a story, it still took up space. The parallel to my life at the time was undeniable. I was the same as the chair. My legs had been swept out from under me. I felt I was sitting waiting for something, anything, and for the rest of my story to be told. At the end of the shoot, as I was going through all of the images it occurred to me that the chair was the same but different and still had purpose just as I did. I know it seems like a whole lot of emotion to put on one poor legless chair but it truly was a turning point in my story. From, that point on I only shot abandons for a long time. I felt compelled to tell the stories that had been hidden away, trampled over, or graffitied on.

What is your approach to your photography, what apps and post-production process do you follow?

I am a basic point, shoot, and edit kind of girl. I think that goes along with the documentary feel of my work. I don’t want to change the scene too much from what it was when I first captured it. I shoot primarily with hipstamatic favoring the combos that are the least intrusive like DC, AO DLX and Jane or helga. The only editing app that I really use is snapseed. I’m a huge fan of the selective adjust tool and the retrolux filters (which I then convert to BW)

Retrolux is about as wild as I get editing. Usually out of a shoot, I will have one or two that are worth spending time on. I try to be very selective in what I upload and even after uploading I go back and weed out photos that just aren’t strong enough. At the moment, it has been about a month since I have taken a shot I would post. Some people might call that a slump, but I prefer to think that I am learning to look at my shots more objectively.

Old Faithful by Anna Cox

Old Faithful by Anna Cox

How do you see iPhone photography developing and do you have any plans of your own for your photography?

I think that with any technology, it will continue advancing and will eventually shrink the gap between mobile photography and traditional photography. There will always be naysayers and people who won’t respect the medium but that is okay. That is what makes it art – the response, the emotions. We are {mobile} photographers, but at the heart we are all striving for the same goal. To create with intent and to impact the world around us.

As for my future in photography, I plan to become wildly famous, increasingly eccentric, and impossibly hard to bear. I’m going to wear polka dots with plaid on a regular basis and chalk it up to my artistic nature Oh wait. I already wear polka dots and plaid and the wildly famous was my plan in college. So my plan B or perhaps G is to keep doing what I am doing and enjoy every minute of it. I do not think I will ever be a huge name in mobile photography and that’s just okay. That was never what I set out to do. My photography is deeply personal, it is a conversation with the innermost recesses of my heart. It is my voice and how I navigate raising a family, being a tad moody, and putting one foot in front of the other every day.

Packing Grief by Anna Cox

Packing Grief by Anna Cox

How has social media helped you to connect and meet new people or to develop new ideas?

We are bombarded with images and information everyday now and what you don’t know is just a google search away. I think you are either paralyzed by the constant stream or you grab an oar and head down stream. I jumped into social media in the deep end and flailed around for a little bit but once I got the hang of it I really started to enjoy myself. As I said earlier, I have developed deep friendships stemming from social networks. I wouldn’t trade these friends for all the tweets in the world. We are actually planning to move to another state soon and it has been amazing and comforting to know that every where we have looked I have existing friendships already.

Connect with Anna Cox

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