Artist: Andrew Cooke
Show: Vol. 2
Born in Darlington SC, April 19th 1982, I started photography back in 2005, first picking up a camera for investigative purposes for the Air Force using long lenses and highend cameras to monitor nearby mountains in Kandahar. Given that my father’s a photographer, I have a natural, comfortable inclination toward the medium. I spent 20032012 in the Air Force, where I started out in security forces, later training to become an investigator, and afterward, a combat arms instructor. With 3 deployments under my belt in Afghanistan, Abu Dhabi, and Djibouti, my work has been featured on the Weather Channel as well as the National Geographic website, having twice won photo of the month.
I chose photography for the introspection it gives me. The need to pay a high level of attention to detail, coupled with the serenity of being by myself in nature, allows me not simply an escape from the madhouse that is our society, but gives me the opportunity to explore who I am in relation to the world around me. It’s allowed me the opportunity to understand my own experiences with PTSD, and is one of the few things that allows me control in a world where control is mostly an illusion. Coming from a combat role in the Air Force to transitioning back to society, using photography was a natural next step for me to reintegrate myself by showing those around me what it is that I see.
Landscape gives me the ability to exacting in my craft, the control of which is both difficult and often illusory. It’s solitary, sweeping, and there’s comfort in knowing I’m taking active steps to understand the world. In fact, it can be hard to talk about landscapes, given the chord they hit in me. I almost feel like I’m betraying the glory of it by explanation. As for weather photography, it’s a great way of separating myself from the chaos of the world, the lens being a physical barrier between myself and the tumult that I’m capturing and the long nighttime exposures lead to hours of introspection, giving me a quiet time to bask in the wonder and glory nature.
I chose these pictures because they are the ones that spoke to me the most, each one acquired during the time where I was trying to escape from reality, the noise of life drowning out those things that I value most, those being the beauty and majesty of our natural landscapes. I chose each photo based on the merit of the movement it created in me, the impact that it had on my perspective, showing me a transcendence that seems so elusive in our day-to-day.
I also prefer adding my own tint, giving the world a different view than is expected. This is my way of communicating and challenging the world around me.