trashhand is a photographer based in Chicago, IL whose photographs are even more compelling than his pseudonym. Made famous by Instagram, trashhand has been captivating followers since 2011 with his grungy, fearless depictions of desolate spaces, striking urbanscapes, and even some of us fellow humans. He is currently hard at work establishing his own studio in Chicago.
Q. You are about to take a beautiful shot of a skyscraper. As you’re looking through the lens, you suddenly remember that another photographer has already taken a very similar shot. What do you do?
TH: Do it better.
Q. Is Photography dangerous?
TH: I look at it like weed. It’s not dangerous but it’s definitely a gateway drug that will lead you to doing more dangerous things.
Q. If all skyscrapers suddenly disappeared, how would you fill that “hole”? What would you photograph instead?
TH: Landscapes. Some of the most beautiful remote locations are a lot more difficult than sneaking onto a roof, so I wouldn’t be losing much feel of adventure there. And nothing’s more beautiful than Mother Nature.
Self-doubt is what fuels me. It breaks people but fires me up.
Q. For the people who don’t have control over their lives, how do you recommend they gain control?
TH: Find something your passionate about and let it consume you. And lots of to-do lists. I mean a shit ton of to-do lists.
Q. Photography is very powerful, and is constantly influencing the world. How can we take better advantage of photography’s potential to move the world forward?
TH: I think that’s the purpose of real photography, right? To spread awareness? These days everyone is just pointing their camera at anything without really understanding why and they don’t even care. Photography is storytelling in its most basic but powerful form. We can take better advantage of it by telling more stories that are closer to our hearts, homes, and families. Taking less photos that are just bits and pieces of our reality and showcasing what’s really going on with real emotion.
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Q. If you had to walk around Chicago with someone, only taking pictures of whatever they want you to, who would you choose to come along?
TH: Kanye West.
Q. What’s the point of Photography?
TH: To document and tell stories.
Find something your passionate about and let it consume you. And lots of to-do lists. I mean a shit ton of to-do lists.
Q. When does your imagination run away with you?
TH: My imagination is strongest when I’m traveling. I feel like I’m most creative when I’m constantly in new spaces.
Q. Complete this sentence: Whatever we think we know about _____ is: _____ because: _____.
TH: Whatever we think we know about life is: wrong because: we don’t know shit.
Q. You have spent a lot of time familiarizing yourself with Chicago, and by extension the modern city. If you were all-powerful, how would you change Chicago and/or cities in general? Physically, socially, infrastructure, etc.?
TH: I would just do my best for the city to become even bigger than it is. I hope that one day the world looks at Chicago the same as it does New York and LA. Too often Chicago gets overlooked as being an authentic, international, and creative city and it drives me insane. We have unbelievable talent here and a ton of heart.
For a full mindmap behind this article with more content, photos, and videos see #photography
Q. What do you secretly wish you could photograph?
TH: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor.
Q. How do you handle criticism and self-doubt?
TH: Self-doubt is what fuels me. It breaks people but fires me up. Criticism is only welcome to those that welcome it. I couldn’t give one shit if someone doesn’t like my photo. I don’t openly look for feedback.
Q. What should you be doing that you’re not doing?
TH: Probably be on a rooftop instead of answering these questions.
Photography is storytelling in its most basic but powerful form. We can take better advantage of it by telling more stories that are closer to our hearts, homes, and families.
Q. If you could go back in time and photograph any person/place/event/thing, what would you choose?
TH: Ernest Hemingway or Frank Lloyd Wright. I can’t decide. Both were living the dream.
Q. How would you describe what you do to someone who is blind?
TH: As detailed as possible. I’ve actually met and briefly worked with a group of blind photographers in the past. It was an amazing project and full of inspiring people.
I hope that one day the world looks at Chicago the same as it does New York and LA.
Q. What do you think about when you’re traveling alone?
TH: How insignificant I really am in this massive world.
Q. Do you think you’ll ever run out of Chicago to photograph?
TH: All depends on how you look it. I have no problems taking photos of things other people have. I love to put my own spin on locations and perspectives. In that sense, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of places to shoot here. This city is constantly evolving and we are growing with it. As the city changes, so will my archive.
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