Interview: Hayley Eichenbaum

There’s a strange mystical experience when it comes to travel. It's full of spontaneous events that are sure to give inspirational ideas and memories that can then be used to fuel the artist in his or her creative endeavors. We spoke with one of our favorite photographers, Hayley Eichenbaum, who recently embarked on a cross-country trip to claim her new home in Los Angeles. 

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, Hayley. 

A: I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am 27 years old - I was born into a family of businessmen and women, but I made a choice at a very young age to follow a different path. I attended the San Francisco Art Institute as well as the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Over the years, I have honed an interdisciplinary practice that works to combine installation, live performance, kinetic sculpture, time-based media, and photography. 

The cinema has heavily influenced my work throughout the years. I’m thoroughly interested in set design, subsequently; I have an immense respect for Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson, who both pay incredible attention to visual and conceptual detail. I am swayed by 1960’s science-fiction films when it comes to my installation-based work (Barbarella, for example). That being said, Jane Fonda has also become an influence - her work not only as an actress, but the way she weaves in and out of political and creative movements. Admire that type of multidisciplinary style. 

Q: I know you went on a recent cross-country move. Tell us about it! Any interesting experiences?

A: I think the whole of the experience was equally terrifying as it was exciting. I packed up everything I owned and took off for the West Coast - with no job prospects or plan. This was my second time driving cross-country alone - I love the thrill and meditative aspect that that kind of solitude provides. I choose to do these drives alone mostly because I’m stopping every half hour to take photos, which is often annoying to anybody who has never been a passenger in my car. 

I think the most interesting parts of these kinds of trips are the people you meet along the way. I’ve adopted this ridiculous habit of pretending to be a different character in every state. I’m a performer at heart, and when I meet people or check into a motel along the way, I’d go by a ridiculous name, and maybe put on an exaggerated accent. Sounds like I’m just crazy, I know, but you have to keep yourself entertained throughout long periods of isolation. During this last trip I got called out for my accent changing in the middle of a conversation I was having. Totally busted, totally embarrassing. 

Q: When you shoot, what camera do you use the most? What sort of editing do you do to your images? 

A: I mostly shoot with a Nikon D7100, switching between a 30mm lens and an 18-140mm lens. I love how this camera has a tendency to “miniaturize” the scenes I’m attempting to capture. When it comes to editing, I try to keep it to a minimum. I want clean, sharp images, and if something like a power line poses as a distraction I may shop that out. Other than that, cropping and color correction are the two biggest editing techniques I utilize. 

Q: Do you have any projects that you’re currently working on?

A: I’m currently investing my energy in a collaborative duo named “SETTLE DOWN.” with fellow artist sZachary Swearingen. We are working on a series of aerial shots that depict a character who gets progressively more uncomfortable with the idea “settling down” - both domestically and physically (in relationship to maturity and energy). The character - played by me and shot by Zachary - is a bit of a social outcast who is trying to come to terms with antiquated and modern ideals. It has been so much fun to loose myself in this process. 

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy? Who have you been jamming to lately?

A: Lately I’ve been really into electro folk-pop duos like Sylvan Esso or Miriam Hill. Their dreamy vocals paired with these electric beats tent to activate all my senses at once. When I’m in the studio I tend to listen to more classic tunes. Nancy Sinatra has always been a favorite, and Bill Withers is a constant - anything soulful or nostalgic. I enjoy a wide spectrum of music - no genre is of off limits. 

Be sure to check out the rest of Hayley’s work on her website. View it here