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Tommy Nease: pure goth

Ghostly luminous, young Nease's frames belong straight out of a 50s cult fantasy flick

Tommy Nease uses his camera to unearth troubling, subconscious secrets that may remind you of a vaguely-recalled old-school horror flick you once watched. Immersed in grainy, glowing, and eerily spiritual imagery, Nease’s druids, aliens, and witchcraft lie in a no-man’s-land between polarized light and dark; an occultish place where he also claims to spend his "waking life."

Based in North Carolina, Nease remains constantly on the move, drawing inspiration from surroundings that provide fresh isolation and astonishment. No coincidence then, that his favorite place in the world is Iceland. 

Name three obsessions that keep popping up in your work or dreams.

Levitation, circles, and negative space.

What inspires you to take the kind of photos you do?

People, folklore, dreams, landscapes…A lot of my inspiration comes through meditation, as photography is a tool that I use to try and understand my subconscious mind.

Are you an occultist, or a believer in the supernatural? 

I do not consider myself an occultist per se, but I do have a firm belief in the supernatural. If I were to give it a title I would say that I am a transcendentalist: I enjoy observing and documenting the reflection of the spiritual realm in nature. 

What was the most challenging aspect of shooting this series? 

I usually approach my image-making by focusing on one photo at a time, but when putting a series together, one of the hardest things to overcome is finding the underlying message between all of the images. I try to find not only the similar aesthetics, but feelings, suggested as a whole.

You travel quite a bit. Where is your favorite place so far and why?

Iceland is so good for so many reasons. I love how frantic the land is from all of the geothermal activity, yet so calm and isolated from the rest of the world. I feel comfortable and spiritually alive there.

Any new directions or projects?

I just returned to North Carolina after a summer of working in Alaska, so I’m going to start working on a new project about Southern folklore, involving tintypes.