Slate’s Behold Photo Blog published an interview yesterday with Matthew Rolston about his first-ever fine-art book, Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, which features his series on vintage ventriloquist dummies from the Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky.
In the piece, Matthew talks about what inspired him to pursue the project and how he chose from among the more than 700 dummies available to photograph. “I wanted to photograph the figures that ‘spoke’ to me in a more personal way,” he tells Slate’s David Rosenberg. “This collection of portraits is not about the history of ventriloquism. Instead, it is a personal response to the emanations of humanity that come from these terribly evocative inanimate objects.”
Matthew also discusses how his career as a veteran celebrity photographer—a “connoisseur of faces”—informed the project, and he observes how different it felt to work on a project whose parameters were entirely his own.
“My professional work is subject to tremendous agendas; everything I do is mediated by groups of people. The creative work is usually described in a contract in a separate appendix called a Schedule of Deliverables. When I started this series, my first-ever fine-art project, I wanted none of that; I went into it just wanting to take the pictures.”
To read the full interview, go here.