Delaney Allen

(L) Self Portrait No. 7 and (R) Alone from Painting A Portrait


Wavepool – Your work seamlessly blends together abstract, landscape, portrait, and still life images as well as text components into poetic narratives related to self. How do you go about sequencing a body of work?

Delaney Allen – It generally starts with a simple idea of what instances I’ve been encountering or how I’ve been feeling as I reflect back. Once I have an idea in place, I’ll move forward with varying titles I’ve been playing around with and then see where that can further take me. I spend a lot of time researching and pulling from a wide variety of books. At that point the foundation had been laid for what I want to achieve. I shoot such a mixture of imagery that once that story is set, I start pulling from my archives to fill in the blanks.

The sequencing of the work itself, whether on a gallery wall or in book form, normally comes from the mood of the work. I will tend to try to stay to certain colors as I edit down and from there just work on the pairings that can begin to give an almost linear feel to the tone of the work.

Wavepool – Is it ever difficult to work with personal content? What is rewarding about it?

Delaney Allen – It can be at times. If others are brought into the story, I want to find a balance that’s fair but also truthful to the story being told. I also find myself being too transparent at times and am trying to pair that back as I continue to make new work. But otherwise I do find it rewarding. It’s therapeutic in a sense. I spend the time really analyzing these issues I’ve had and by the time the work is complete it’s almost like being able to close a book and move on.


Sunset Dinner at the Four Seasons, Nevis, West Indies from A Personal Nature


Wavepool – I like your play with time and memory in A Personal Nature.  Your exploration of both past and present seems to make the work take on some kind of fictional quality. Is this a desired effect? What role does fiction play in your practice?

Delaney Allen – I can see a fictional quality in that body of work. When I began the series, I was really questioning the ideas behind memory. How do we actually remember an event? Is that memory even truthful or have we completely changed it in our minds? So in order to complete the series, I found myself taking these vivid memories I had and reworking them in a sense. The fact that I had never photographed the actual event made everything I was remembering fictional at that point.

I feel that fiction is definitely there to a degree within my work. The minute anyone decides where the border of the image will be, it’s not fully telling to what was actually in front of him or her. And when editing work, I’m looking to tell the best story possible. With that, I might be leaving out details that would have shed even more light on certain things.

Wavepool – Many of your projects result in a book. Is this usually the intended outcome when the project begins? What do you like about the book format?

Delaney Allen – That was something I spent a lot of time researching while in graduate school. For me, the book is the ultimate outcome. Gallery shows limit you on time and space. Knowing that, I’ve always intended that the book be an option as well. The book will allow the viewers to approach the work at their own speed. It allows for time to sit and analyze and really delve into the story if you desire. And ultimately it allows for me to expand on ideas that I might not be able to in a gallery setting – small tidbits that wouldn’t work framed, extra information not needed in a show.


Exploring Northern California from Getting Lost


Wavepool – You attended the Little Brown Mushroom Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers in the summer of 2013. How was the experience?

Delaney Allen – To be honest, it was pretty challenging and a bit strange. For those of us that were invited to attend, we showed up in Minneapolis having absolutely no idea what to expect. We were told nothing beforehand other than our address to meet at and what time. Within the first day we were being paired up with other people to go out and explore the neighborhoods and come back with a story in a matter of hours.

As the week wore on, I was able to come to a conclusion of what I wanted from the camp. For me, it became about how to experiment with storytelling. It allowed me to look at other avenues to explore, mainly video and sound. And by the end of the week, I had an experimental story that incorporated photo, text, video and sound.

Wavepool – Who are some major influences, either past or present?

Delaney Allen – Early on, I was drawn to artists like William Wegman and Duane Michals. In their earlier works, both used text as a simple means to further the image. A lot of my undergrad work was derived from studying them. Currently, my influences vary widely and a lot of it falls outside of photography. I tend to research a lot psychology and that has become important in my making. Other than that, I look for different artistic outlets that will challenge the ideas around storytelling as inspiration.


Emotion from Getting Lost


To see more, please visit Delaney’s website.