ACCORDING TO SIGMUND FREUD, DREAMS ARE OUR SUBCONSCIOUS TICKLING OUR DEEPEST FEARS AND DESIRES. MODERN PSYCHOLOGY TOES A MORE COMMONSENSE LINE, CHARACTERIZING THEM AS MEMORY CONSOLIDATION, EMOTIONAL REGULATION, THREAT SIMULATION… AND, ULTIMATELY, ONE OF LIFE’S GREATEST MYSTERIES.
Portland-based photographer Delaney Allen’s dreamlike works marry these two hypotheses, twisting artistic traditions and conventional perspectives into visual poetry that pairs nostalgia and discovery, ephemera and eternity. In his studio portraits, faces are often obscured. In his landscapes, light and shadow rather than vast topography compose the image’s lines. Parallels between each (man and nature) are drawn, but rarely by placing man (or woman) in nature. Rather, the evocative memory fragments, together, propose a greater human tale — of loss and discovery, identity and exploration.
(above): There was a period in 2011 when I was spending a lot of time falling down various rabbit holes on YouTube. One night led me to the discovery a series of videos of girls in lingerie, who would blow large bubbles for their fans. I kept finding myself going back to these videos until I decided to attempt it myself one afternoon. It took around 30 attempts and an entire pack of bubble gum. My jaw was stiff the rest of the day.
These rainbows appear from the sun, on the opposite side of a plane while they're in the air. I see them occasionally, and I'd photographed a few before but never gotten a strong image. On this particular flight, the clouds were so close that the rainbow appeared huge outside of the window. I've stopped trying to photograph them since.
There are a few locations within the U.S. that have been marked as places all landscape photographers must visit. One that seems to have become more and more well-known over the years is Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Knowing about my curiosity [for the site], my girlfriend surprised me with a trip there last summer for my birthday. It was fascinating to visit a place that seems so remote and spiritual in photographs, but in reality is completely overrun by tourists. Every corner you turn, photo groups are yelling at you to get out of their shot. You look in front of you and your guide is tossing dirt into the air to illuminate the sunbeams. He tells you where to stand for the best image shot available. I was turned off by most of the experience.
This self-portrait depicts the feeling I had during a period of creating work for a series that looked at personal isolation and loneliness. I used emergency blankets as the backdrop and also to wrap myself in, lit the scene with various colored party lights, and then sat in the studio moving slightly as the shutter went off.
Portland seems to be known for cherry blossoms during the spring. My studio space during graduate school happened to have one down the block. With rain prevalent through most of the spring, I would watch at night as the mist in the air would reflect in the droplets and how that would interact with the surrounding trees. I attempted to capture this almost nightly occurrence with my point-and- shoot [camera].
A lot of time when shooting at the coast, I attempt to abstract the wider scene. Over the years I found myself shooting in the same way again and again and thus having similar images. With that in mind, I set out to create something different using the available light and motion of the crashing waves.
This photograph came from constant visits to my favorite place on the Oregon coast. I find the time when the sunset coincides with the arrival of high tide. The light will typically be favorable for about an hour, which allows me to hop around frantically as the larger waves are coming in. Originally, I placed the day’s images onto a hard drive and found this image six months later when looking through the folder.
As I was finalizing what I had thought would be my graduate school thesis project, I spontaneously asked my girlfriend at the time to pose for a few images as a way to test out some ideas I’d had about capturing hair in motion that would mask the face. At that time I didn’t know that this masking would become an underlying theme in my thesis work titled "Between Here And There." As we broke up and my new body of work began to materialize, this image became very important to the final edit.
We see a lot of imagery reflecting the sky or clouds, or even oneself, in various forms of still water. If the conditions are right at the coast, I have just a few minutes to attempt these same photographic ideas and techniques with the tide pools. This image is the most successful one I’ve captured to date.
During the fall of 2014 through the summer of 2015, I spent the majority of time in my small hometown in Texas as my dad was battling an unwinnable battle with cancer. Spending time away from my studio and familiar surroundings, I would try to drive in various directions away from my parents’ house as the sun began to set. I needed this almost daily ritual as a way to continue to shooting, and to clear my head. This specific image came from a rock quarry just on the edge of the county I grew up in. I didn’t produce much during that time, but I did become reacquainted with the back roads of my youth.