New Video Work

I recently completed these two video pieces.  I have been working on them for awhile, but decided to finish them in light of the changing conversation on guns in America. 

The first piece, Training Wheels (2018), uses appropriated video game footage of the game that Adam Lanza was playing for weeks, leading up to the Sandy Hook school shooting. I removed the native audio and replaced it with uplifting, reggae music, to create a soundtrack dissonance. You may also notice that the player never fires a single shot, and the outcome of the simulated massacre is still the same.  The intention of the piece is to raise questions about the nature of violence in the media and its role in our current gun violence epidemic in America. Music: "Work It Out (Instrumental)" by Afro Omega, licensed by Audiosocket.

The second piece, Neighborhood Watch (2018), juxtaposes the banality of an evening walk through a neighborhood, to the audio of George Zimmerman's 911 call the night he killed Trayvon Martin. How does the audio clip change the way we feel as we move deeper into this suburban neighborhood? How do we reconcile a sense of security with the realities of privilege?

Darkroom Gallery: In Stillness

Juror's Statement:

In Stillness” can be interpreted many ways. I approached the submissions viscerally, initially choosing those which gave me a feeling of calm, balance and timelessness in their visual presentation. However, I was also, and always, looking at the formal aspects of photography: composition and especially quality of light - what I call a,”well seen” image. While there were many arresting photographs in this large group, those I chose most closely met my criteria.

Diane Gabriel

Leif Carlson,  Mark Venuti, February 23, 2002,  Archival Pigment Print, 2016, 12x18"

Leif Carlson, Mark Venuti, February 23, 2002, Archival Pigment Print, 2016, 12x18"

Simunition: Gun Culture in America - MFA Thesis Exhibition

On November 4, 2016, The Welmont Gallery in Savannah, GA hosted the opening reception for Leif Carlson's MFA Thesis Exhibition, Simunition: Gun Culture in America.  This exhibition is an exploration into American gun culture and Carlson uses photography, video, and installation to explore this theme.  The gallery was divided into three distinct chambers, which allowed Carlson to consider various themes within American gun culture, such as media, gender, race, police violence, and religion.  

Darkroom Gallery: Semblance


Juror's Statement:

I was presented with the task of selecting a finite number of photographic portraits for a show in a gallery. Does that mean select the best photos? Does it mean to select a group of photos that make a cohesive show? Does it mean I should be cognoscente that there is an equal distribution of B&W, Color, Men, Women and Children? Does it mean I should be sure to include interiors, exteriors, daytime and nighttime images? The answer for me is yes and no.

Here's what I did. I selected what I felt were the most unique, compelling, curious, interesting, fun and/or any other attribute that made the photo stand out from the rest. This first set of images was approximately twice the size of where we needed to be for the show. Now the hard part. Break these photos down into a group that A) made sense together and B) stood on their own individually. In the end I had to remove images that were very good but didn't make sense to me for the flow of the show. Its always tough to cut a good image, but that's the reality of putting photos on walls in rooms.
I hope you all enjoy my version of the "Semblance" show.


Toy Soldier #2 , 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x30"

Toy Soldier #2, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x30"

SCAD: Silver & Ink 2015

The Savannah College of Art and Design photography department presents "Silver & Ink," the university’s premier juried photography exhibition and publication, showcasing the best student work.

Held annually and in its eighth year, this exhibition celebrates all aspects of commercial and fine art photography created at SCAD.

Toy Soldier #2 , 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x30"

Toy Soldier #2, 2015, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x30"

Time and Emotion - Cinemagraphs

For this series, I was interested in exploring the relationship between time and emotion.  We can experience time in different ways, depending on our emotional connection to the event.  The phrase, "Time flies when you are having fun," or the sense of time dragging on during unpleasant experiences are examples of this.  

Having recently become a father, I too have experienced this strange connection between time and the emotions surrounding parenthood.  When my son is in a good mood or sleeping in my arms, time seems to fly by so quickly.  I look back on the last three months and wonder where the time has gone.  However, when my son is screaming for no apparent reason and nothing I try seems to relieve his pain, time seems to stand still.  I look at the clock and the hands don't seem to move.

To capture this relationship between time and emotion, I chose to create cinemagraphs.  This allows aspects of time to be exaggerated and highlighted through a combination of still and moving images.  Some images play on time moving quicker than normal and others play on a sense of time standing still.  Some of the cinemagraphs also question the repetitiveness of our lives and how monotony can become normal. 

Darkroom Gallery: Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror:

Juror's Statement:

Self portraits can be fraught. They can expose something other than what the artist intended. The most successful portraits submitted to Mirror, Mirror I suspect, did just that. They dealt with pregnancy, death, rebirth, violence, fear, heartbreak, loneliness, the supernatural, sexual identity, falling in and out of love, loss of virginity, and ironically, the loss of self. The camera allows a kind of scrutiny that can show one how they feel, whether it be conscious or not

The less effective pictures submitted, tackled some fascinating ideas like wrestling with ones self, being ones own grandfather, and hiding from ones self, but the ideas were stronger than the images.

The weakest pictures were over-produced, over-photo shopped, mixed media, shadows and reflections, snapshots, and jokes that weren’t funny.

In almost all cases I found that the titles of the photographs were too literal. They tried to explain what the artist was suffering which had the deleterious effect of making me, the viewer, feel that the mystery was gone. Good titles are always challenging to find, but without them we aren’t free to have our own interpretations which can be myriad.

Amy Arbus

Chair Portrait #5 , 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x36"

Chair Portrait #5, 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x36"

Smoke Portrait #1 , 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x36"

Smoke Portrait #1, 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x36"

Toy Soldiers

Toy Soldiers

I wanted to explore the nature of identity and fantasy by focusing on young boys engaging in military simulations.  The portraits of the boys on location at various training facilities serve to document the boys during this interesting phase of adolescence as well as address the absurdity of war, and the desire to play war for recreation. 

The landscapes of paintball fields and military training facilities also serve to document a different American landscape.  Both facilities simulate real spaces, and speak to a new fabricated landscape. 

The faux tintype portraits intentionally refer to Matthew Brady’s Civil War era portraits of soldiers and battlefield landscapes.  Just as these boys are simulating war, I wanted to create tintype simulations as a way to anchor the work to both the historical and the contemporary. 

Self Portrait Series

These are some of the images I took for my 15 hour review at SCAD. 

This work is an investigation into the various roles and new environments I find myself in since moving to Savannah. All the work is taken within a few miles from my new home as I wanted to explore the variations in places that I see on a daily basis. Often, these are places that go unnoticed, yet we recognize them as elements of a larger landscape in America's suburbs and rural areas. Several aspects of the work are intended to be ironic and playful as I was developing a longer narrative. 

I chose self-portraiture and used props like the chair to explore my relationship to the spaces around me.  As an outsider and spectator of this new environment, I wanted to physically be in the places and incorporate elements of myself into the scene.  The motif of the chair and other props is personal to me and comes from childhood memories.  With these, I wanted to explore the relationship between memory and the reality of my current location.  

SCAD Silver & Ink 2014

The Savannah College of Art and Design photography department presents "Silver & Ink," the university's premier juried photography exhibition and publication, showcasing the best student work.

Held annually and in its seventh year, this exhibition celebrates all aspects of commercial and fine art photography created at SCAD.


Permanence, 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x24"

Permanence, 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 24"x24"

Badlands, Pine Ridge, and the Wounded Knee 4-Directions Skatepark

I recently traveled to the Badlands and Pine Ridge, South Dakota for the purpose of shooting a new portfolio.  After weeks of research, I booked my flights, hotels, rental car, and extra photography equipment for the trip.  I was particularly drawn to the story of the Wounded Knee 4-Directions Skate Park.  The park was created as an effort of the community to give the youth of Pine Ridge something constructive to do and a safe place to be.  What I didn't expect was how close the community at the park is and how much the youth encourage and mentor each other.  

I was able to spend a few days in Pine Ridge and the surrounding area, as well as two days in the Badlands.  It was truly the most beautiful place I have ever been and encourage everyone to visit sometime.  

This portfolio is dedicated to the youth from  Pine Ridge.  I want to thank you for taking the time to visit with me and being so welcoming.  Your spirit is inspirational! 


The Dalai Lama's Visit to Louisville, KY - May 2013

I recently had the pleasure of being contracted to photograph and document The Dalai Lama's visit to Louisville, KY in honor of the city joining the City of Compassion Charter.  It was six days of hard but amazing work, and I was fortunate to attend several sessions with His Holiness.  Here are some of the pictures from those six days.  


Right of Way

I titled this project "Right of Way" because of the history of governments seizing private land to make room for the railroads.  In America, a lot of private and public land was taken under the Right of Way laws to build the railroads, and much of the natural environment was permanently affected.  What I enjoyed about this project was seeing how over time, even nature will reclaim this land that was once taken.