Skyler Dahan captures characters at Telluride Mushroom Festival
Los Angeles-based photographer Skyler Dahan first became involved in the arts through film, which he majored at Bard College in New York State. Often filmed in film, Dahan enjoyed the ritual of loading the film, waiting for it to develop, and cutting and pasting it together.
“Being able to interact directly with this medium made the process really tangible as an art form,” says Dahan. “As a child of the digital age, all of this practice fascinated me. ”
While studying film and film, Dahan then dabbled in black and white film photography after a friend suggested that he might enjoy the same creative process. The following year, he took a color photography course and was encouraged to step outside his creative comfort zone.
“I started doing quirky character portraits in the Hudson Valley and spent time in local mini-malls observing the bizarre street scenes,” he says. “It was ultimately the inspiration and the start of what would become one of my favorite styles of photography.”
These ideas can be seen clearly in his latest body of work. “During my time as a photographer, I have found pleasure in a range of projects ranging from fashion to social documentaries. Currently, I attend some strange festivals and conventions in the United States,” explains- he does.
“This theme actually goes hand in hand with a book I’m about to publish called Unconventional, a project spanning 2016-21 where I would attend various conventions in California dressing like the attendees and taking portraits of myself with them. I also captured the conventions as a spectator. I like the relationship between the subject of the convention and that of the participant. My whole convention series was shot with a 35mm camera.
After completing this project in March 2021, Dahen wanted to retire from the convention space and explore filming primarily in digital. He started researching online and attending events such as dog grooming shows, reptile shows, and most recently the Telluride Mushroom Festival in Colorado, with the series first published in Paper Journal.
“Capturing the raw emotion for an event like the Mushroom Festival is something we don’t come across every day. This festival was an ideal subject for me because the enthusiasts waited all year to meet and share their thirst for knowledge and their passion for the world of mycelium ”, explains Dahan. “Documenting this raw emotion is what I love the most because there is no filter. The participants are themselves and have nothing to hide, they don’t care what you think of them, and as a photographer I feed off that.”
The photographs capture Dahan’s talent for finding the unusual in the everyday, and his goal with the series was to capture the spirit of the festival, going beyond mere images of mushrooms and landscapes. “This series is meant to be more like a playlist than an album, because sometimes an album can feel final, while a playlist takes a bit of everything to set the mood,” he says.
“My goal was to make viewers want to go and experience the event themselves, and if they couldn’t, my photos would look like they were right in the middle of the action, marching in the parade fair. next to me.
After nearly two years as a photographer during the pandemic, Dahen reveled in meeting new people and discovering new places during this block of projects. “That inspiring sense of travel and friendship felt even more amplified because that joy and excitement of connecting had been suppressed,” he recalls.
“Telluride in particular has been an amazing trip because I have gained knowledge, experience and friendships that I will keep on a daily basis. I felt so welcome in a community that I would never have known without one. project like this.
The experience reminded Dahen of the importance of travel in his photography and the possibilities that open up. “It’s invigorating to bond with people you never thought of, because it opens up your world and your horizons,” says the photographer.