Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Conversation with KayLynn Deveney

from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, © KayLynn Deveney

KayLynn Deveney is not just an amazing and quite accomplished photographer, but she is also a great mentor. She recently successfully defended her dissertation at the University of Wales, Newport thereby earning the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Photography. Whilst studying in Wales, KayLynn met Albert Hastings, the subject of her photographic series. We're delighted to have KayLynn participate in this Conversations series.

Nymphoto: Tell us a little about yourself.

KayLynn Deveney: I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with my fantastic husband, Will. My funny, smart parents and many great friends are nearby. The last few years of my life have been focused, to a large extent, on finishing a practice-based Ph.D. in photography. I have been an adjunct faculty member at points in Wales, Cleveland and Albuquerque while working on the Ph.D.

from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, © KayLynn Deveney

NP: How did you discover photography?

KD: I became interested in photography while taking a photojournalism course in college. Through that class I met working photographers who were very generous and willing to share their time and knowledge. Eventually, I went to work as a staff photographer for the Albuquerque Tribune, a well-respected afternoon daily that recently closed, as most afternoon papers have. The staff of the Tribune proved to be long-term mentors and friends. After nine years, I left the Tribune to return to graduate school to study and think about the subjective aspects of documentary photographic practice. I chose to attend graduate school in the United Kingdom at the University of Wales, Newport.

from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, © KayLynn Deveney

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

KD: There’s no shortage of things to be inspired by in this world. I’m inspired by people, their intricate and complex lives, and their willingness to share their stories. I like to be in other people’s company and I love hearing stories. I’m inspired by my brother’s dedication to making music, my husband’s pursuit of a thoughtful life and a true integrity and my parents’ love for their families. Art, movies, fiction writing, music, a really witty person - all can be very inspirational. The list could go on and on.

from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, © KayLynn Deveney

NP: How did this project come about?

KD: Bert and I lived in the same neighborhood in Wales. I noticed him working in the garden of the dilapidated apartment building where he lived. I stopped and talked with him one day, and the more we talked, the more I liked him and wanted to know him. Soon after that first conversation I asked Bert to collaborate on the project with me.

from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, © KayLynn Deveney

NP: How did you go about producing this book and how does editing contribute to the book's story?

KD: From the beginning the project was a book. I taped contact sheet prints into a small notebook and Bert wrote his responses to my photographs beneath the image in the notebook. The final design of the book reflects the early template of the original notebooks.

The editing of the work was complicated. First, each image and its accompanying caption had to be successful in my estimation, either offering commentary on the cyclical nature of Bert’s days or adding something new to the narrative. Second, each image had to work in a pair. I didn’t want the book to have blank pages. I wanted to keep the story flowing and uninterrupted. (Color was a big consideration in working on the pairings.) Third, the pairings had to be sequenced in away that made sense and propelled the story forward while also allowing days and nights to arrive and pass throughout the work.

The book is designed to reflect the collaborative nature of the project. There is a deliberate attempt to have both the words and images carry substantial weight. Emphasizing the words was fundamental to the presentation of the content. Including Bert’s text expands the dialogue about his experience, but it also opens up discussion regarding the subjective nature of the photographic negotiation.

I edited, designed and bound four initial copies of the book. These handmade books were then shown to prospective publishers at portfolio review events. I met Jennifer Thompson from Princeton Architectural Press at Review Santa Fe. The publication of my book evolved from that meeting.

from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, © KayLynn Deveney

NP: What's next?

KD: Making new work! I successfully defended my Ph.D. in Wales in December and have subsequently completed the minor revisions. Also in December, I received a substantial grant from the Anonymous Was A Woman foundation that will support new projects that I am starting now. In terms of exhibitions, ten images from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings will be included in an exhibition titled The Art of Caring: A Look at Life through Photographs, organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibition will run May 16th - October 11th, 2009 at the New Orleans Museum of Art before traveling to other venues. And finally, I have been accepted to a two-week course at the American Academy of Bookbinding that will focus on the fundamentals of making leather bindings.

NP: Thank you, KayLynn!

To see more of KayLynn Deveney's work, please go to, also go here to purchase a copy of her book.

1 comment:

Ellen Rennard said...

Thanks for this post! I love this little book by KayLynn Deveney and highly recommend it.