An Interview with FENCE People’s Choice Winner Erik Paul Howard

Q: What inspired you to start your series, The Lowriders: From Detroit to L.A. and Back?

I was shooting a lot at home, in my neighborhood…just things that were happening. And when I met my photography mentor in 2005, he was noticing all the things that I was shooting and producing and asked me when I decided to be systematic about [photography]. And I really hadn’t!

He said that there was some good stuff, and that it could be an opportunity to tell stories that could be developed into something that people would enjoy. And that’s why I shoot…I want to share.  And I think with images we can share in ways that we can’t with words. So [the series] developed after that.

Q: Who are some of your photographic influences?

Andre Wagner, Howard Bryant Brooks, Dream Hampton, Mahmoud Darwish, and Tom Stoye (my mentor).

photo © Jessica Bal
Q: What would you like people to take away from your series?

Community. There’s a lot of ways to build community, whether it’s around the geography, language, subculture, or a machine. We all have things that we are passionate about, and when we can find ways to use our passion to meet each other’s needs we find really unique ways to build community —  and lowriding is no exception to that. While the photos are about a subculture it’s also about something much deeper that happens between humans.

Q: What photographer dead or alive would you want to collaborate with?

I want to collaborate with everyone. I think that team building is critical and it’s different for every project….But, if I had to pick one person right now it would be Renata Cherlise (I don’t even know if she would consider herself a photographer). She’s out of Chicago and is doing the Blvck Vrchives Project. I would love to see how my camera could be in service to the ideas that are spinning in her head, even if it wasn’t for Blvck Vrchives.

Erik will receive a Leica Camera package, exclusive access to a Leica Akademie Master Class, and twelve portfolio print of The Lowriders: From Detroit to L.A. and Back, courtesy of LuxLab.