[The following is an excerpt of an hour long interview I did with Dave Karr (Left Foot Forward Photography) about his upcoming art show, “Grunge Turns 25”, which will be officially opening September 19th at Dave’s Detour in Dave Grohl Alley–Warren, Ohio.]
(Dave’s words are in bold)
The questions I have come up with are in no particular order, so I/ll just get right into it. The name of your operation, Left Foot Forward Photography. I was told that it was named that because you noticed your left foot was always forward whenever you took a shot.
Yeah… when I get into the zone, so to speak.
What even made you think of a name, or start-up your own production unit.
I was taking so many pictures, playing around with them, editing, & I just wanted to display them in a place where people could see them. I felt that putting them on my own page would be only my friends seeing them. So I created its own place where people could start following my work.
Do you do any portrait photography or is it all fine art?
I/ll do portraits. I/ve done portraits for people. But they aren/t traditional. It always has a little tweak. My own stamp on it. I/m not going to do an Olan Mills portrait. It/s not satisfying for me.
Where do you see Left Foot Forward in five years? Ideally…
I have not even thought about it really.
Do you think you will just stick to photography, or will you branch off into other mediums?
I have a lot of different interests. I don/t know. Photography gives me a creative outlet that I feel comfortable with. It allows me to create things as I envision them. So I don/t know if I/ll explore anything else.
What I like about you is the purism. You just make your art & if it does this it does that. What comes, comes. That is rare.
Did you go to school for photography?
How did snapping pictures even start?
Really, just taking pictures of my own family. I had a couple people say I had an eye for photography. At first I thought it was just a couple lucky shots that I took. Then I had a couple of friends that did photography, Lori Caldwell & Eric Lough, I started picking their brains, & got a lot of encouragement from them both. I started taking pictures of anything I could. Trying to get a feel for what kind of photography I liked, what my style was, my calling.
What kind of photography do you like?
It took me awhile to discover what I truly felt at home with. What I got the most enjoyment out of doing is what I call grunge photography. Rough edges. Unclean. Kind of dark. That is how I see the world. I could make a better picture doing that than any other way, because it is already inside me.
It/s more honest.
Rough edges, that is certainly the world around us. You bring up grunge a lot, which was a big connection for me to art. It was a get away from the fake bullshit music that was going on before it. It felt real.
Right. I/m passionate about the grunge culture. I love the music. What drew me to it weren/t guys that could shred a guitar.
Yeah, they weren/t larger than life virtuosos.
Yes. Seventies & eighties had some really talented musicians that studied music in school. A lot of them had music backgrounds. Grunge was more out of passion than formal training. It wasn/t about how many notes you hit, or how many licks you knew.
Shit, some of the best songs from the grunge era were barely squeaking out three cords.
It was just sitting down & writing a good song with the most basic of elements. It had a filthiness. A filthy sound. Whether it was a scream out of tune, or a note out of tune, it doesn/t matter because it was just simplicity. A lot of beauty can be found in the unrefined. To me, the most beautiful thing is a rusty sign. A rusty sign against bricks. A dirty sidewalk with a rusty can. Some think it is blight. I think it is beauty.
What you are saying is grunge photography to you, is what I consider street photography to me. The rough edges. The unrefined. The world as it is. We are definitely on the same page. Let/s get into Dave Grohl. You just got to see the intimate Foo Fighters performance at the Record Connection in Niles right?
Yeah. My wife told me about it first. I thought it was a hoax.
You/re really into Grohl right?
Oh yeah, the Foo Fighters are my favorite band. I love Nirvana too. It is hard to say if both were in existence at the same time…
The concert was only a hundred & fifty people, right?
Yep. The new Foo album was basically the ticket.
How long was the show?
Where was he even playing at? The place had never hosted anything like this.
Well, they built a stage. It was actually held a couple of spaces down from the record store. It was small. He went from end to end of the stage tapping hands & all I had to do was reach out & tap him.
Sweet. So you had your camera in there?
Did this whole event re-inspire you?
I already wanted to put something in my show of the Foo Fighters. I couldn/t believe I had the opportunity to take actual photos of them. My show is about images inspired from the whole grunge movement. It was really fucking cool to have those pictures to add to it. I am definitely going to use a few of them.
Back to GRUNGE TURNS 25, this is a show celebrating a 25th anniversary of?
Yes. But it is a hard time to pinpoint it. When do you want to call it? Do you call it in 88-89 with Andy Wood & Green River? Do you say it started when Nevermind blew up? When Bleach came out? There is really a two to three-year period you could argue about all day. But I feel safe calling a date anywhere from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016.
It is so cool that you caught Grohl at this twilight of grunge. It seems to have dwindled back to the mainstream. But it falls in patterns. People put up with manufactured sounds for only so long.
The Foo Fighters are the last great American rock band. In my opinion.
So, how about some quick questions to close this out. What do you do to pay the bills right now?
Work at Craftmaid.
Why not just make cabinets? Why do the photography?
Because I have a need to be creative. I/ve explored creativity my whole life. When I stumbled upon photography it satisfied that need. I do it because I don/t sleep well at night as it is. If I didn/t do it, I wouldn/t sleep at all.
It sounds like therapy.