RH: Do you feel like your work uses a commercial style?
EOL: When I was younger I was definitely seduced by commercial photography. I remember looking at magazines in high school and thinking, “Holy shit, how can you make an image look like that?” They felt surreal. You couldn’t ignore them. As I got older, I realized these images were basically poison, but the seductive qualities of the pictures stuck with me. I didn’t ever intend to replicate a commercial language in my work. I think it spilled over into what I was making. I knew that as an image-maker I wanted to make pictures as powerful as the propaganda I was seeing elsewhere, but I also wanted the work to come from a personal and human place. Flannery O’Connor said something like, “I write to know what I think, and unless I write, I won’t know what I think.” I feel the same way about how I work. I will become obsessed with wanting to see something, but in order to understand why I want to see it I first have to make it. I am obsessed with commercial photography because it imprints on me—it has this sneaky way of affecting me, even if I’m resisting it.
RH: Can you tell me more about the road trip you’re about to go on? Where are you going and what are you hoping to see?
EOL: I’m not sure. I have a difficult time making work in NYC, it can be such a vacuum. I mainly want to observe and be receptive to what I find. As of now, I’m looking for gender dynamics, body language, rituals, behavior. I don’t have specific images in mind, I see this mostly as a research trip that will inform future projects.