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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

Meet the Photographers: XYXX (Dave Mclaughlin and Kimberly Warner)

xyxx (Dave Mclaughlin and Kimberly Warner)

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xyxx is a living visual, open ended love letter between two slightly twisted lovers who would rather take pictures with their iphones than talk on them. Dave and Kimberly started playing ping pong with snaps throughout their days via email regardless if they were half a world apart or walking next to each other in our neighborhood. Where conversations can be routine, an image is so much more intimate. it’s letting someone in behind your eye and saying right now, this second, this is my world. This is what I see, how I feel, and what I want to share with you. Somedays it’s a game of exquisite corpse. somedays it’s a quiet conversation.  An ever evolving game of tag with no rules or expectations except to simply be present, and that’s the beauty of it.

xyxx.tumblr.com

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Tell us a little about yourselves individually – name, where you’re from, what you do, etc.

David McLaughlin, born and raised in Milwaukie Oregon. His background is graphic design. He worked at Nike for the better part of two decades as a designer and creative director. He is currently doing brand strategy, graphic design, and motion graphics on a freelance basis.

Kimberly Warner was born and raised in Appleton Wisconsin. Her background is eastern medicine and modeling. Upon picking up a camera six years ago, her life changed and she hasn’t looked back. Since then, she’s shot both local and national ad campaigns. Her first short film CPR debuted this year at a local film festival.

Both of us grew up on farms and want to end up on one again soon. In the mean time, we feed stray cats, ride bikes, and plant bamboo.

How did you two meet?

We met briefly on a photo shoot. Kimberly was modeling on one set, and Dave was art directing a shoot on an adjacent set. Between shots we chatted casually about books and films. At the end of the day we exchanged emails. Weeks passed and we started emailing, casually at first then evolving into a sort of a creative free-for-all. It was four or five months before we finally saw each other again. We’ve been together since.

What do photos communicate for you that words don’t?

There is something really intimate about a photograph. We love words, but an image can instantly crystallize a moment. Sharing that spontaneity was impossible before phone cameras, but with this technology in your pocket it opened up a whole new world of story telling to us. We thought it would be a great alternate form of communication. It started as a visual game of Exquisite Corpse, but then evolved and became more free form. No matter where we are in the world or in our own neighborhood, separate or together, we can add to this crazy quilt of images in seconds. We still find that really amazing.

What made you decide to share your photo conversations with the world?

Initially we started sharing them via SMS to each other. It wasn’t long until we started the blog as a virtual photo album (Dave’s are tagged xy and Kimberly’s xx). We had the blog linked to Facebook for a while and we got a lot of comments. People that knew our story loved following us. It just seemed like a fun thing to do. People wonder what makes couples tick. What are they like out of a social situation? It’s a bit of a window to us that we don’t mind leaving open. And no matter how the technology changes over the next 50 years, the conversation (and the love story) will no doubt continue.

How did xyxx evolve into other photographic ventures?

I think any photographer would agree that if you want to get better, shoot more. Shoot a lot. If you have a camera in your pocket and you use it daily…hourly, you start thinking and seeing through a lens. It becomes a second language. From there it just spills over. We’ve been working on films, brand videos, motion graphics, and more words. We’ve come a bit of a full circle this summer. We’ve been writing a poem a day (from first of June through the end of August; Dave odd days, Kimberly even). We’ll add that to the blog the first of September.

Have either of you had experience in photography or film before this project? 

Dave started doing photography in high school, back in the days of processing your own film. It’s always been a hobby for him. Being an art director on sets all over the world and working closely with photographers feeds his passion for it. Plus, from a design perspective, he just loves cameras. We have shelves of vintage and modern cameras. It was one of those that he loaned to Kimberly early in our relationship that became the catalyst for Kimberly leaving a career in medicine to become a professional photographer.

What can you tell us about FOXY

Inspired by a beautiful taxidermy fox, a 1971 Cadillac and a goofy remake of Odetta’s folk tune “The Fox,” we wrote a dark little story about death and vanity and decided it would be a fun challenge to make it into a film. Earlier this year, Kimberly’s first short film CPR debuted at a local film festival and while she was overwhelmingly stoked to work with a larger creative team, this time she and Dave wanted to drive the entire process.  So we’re writing, directing, shooting, art directing, editing AND acting. A film built from two!

What are you planning on doing with xyxx in the future?

It’s fun to watch an idea grow into a blog grow into a brand. It clicked for us that “his and hers” (hence xyxx) is really a metaphor for our cumulative creative energies—be it photography, film, advertising, brand work, etc. Our only rule is that it has to be play. We’re big on making as much as we can in life play. As soon as it becomes work, we won’t do it. We’re launching xyxx.me soon that will have a sampling of all the other odds and ends we love doing.

Tell us, what were both of your favorite summer movie this year? Why?

Probably a toss up between Moonrise Kingdom and Turn Me On, Dammit. We just saw Turn Me On, Dammit at a local theater over the weekend, an innocent Norwegian coming of age story that was a wonderful mix of the unstudied awkwardness and quiet revelation of puberty.  Maybe we feel we’re always a bit suspended in that space!

What are some of your favorite Tumblr’s that you follow? Why?

We both follow dozens of different websites, but not a lot of tumblr sites specifically.  Anything that jogs the sleep out of our morning heads is always a welcome opening to the day and it’s a joy to discover other fellow lovers of play in the universe.  A few of our favorites are www.itsnicethat.com, www.ffffound.com, www.devidsketchbook.tumblr.com, and www.butdoesitfloat.com.

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xyxx currently has a publication that is on sale!

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