Bobby Decker is one of the artists represented in our current show, Rolling Along. His featured work documents his time traveling the American highway system with friends, Matt Herzog, David Fort Jr, and Jake Singer during the Summer of 2021. We caught up with Bobby this week to learn more his creative process and some experiences on the road. The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
First off, could you just tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
My name is Bobby Decker, I am from Yardley, Pennsylvania, and I am a filmmaker. My main interests and work lie around stories, short films, writing, screenplays, that kind of stuff. I am in the exploration of a story that’s never been told before.
How did you first start making photos?
I’ve always been into movies and making videos with my neighbors as a kid. The more I messed around with cameras, the more I started taking notice of white balance and aperture and all that nitty-gritty. I used photography more as a way to understand what a camera could do for the sake of properly exposing my videos. I think I became obsessed with the camera settings. The control and little details. Then I was just trying to make my images not too dark or bright, all for the sake of clarity, like in the movies. Nowadays, it’s second nature. The technical knowledge I don’t need to think twice about, instead it's worrying about the shot. Not to mention, with a digital camera, photography is free.
How would you describe your style?
I always liked the surreal and images that make you question the timeline, action, and landscapes. I think timeline and surreality go hand in hand. How who got where and what happens next. Those kinds of questions are what make you want to take a picture of something. But that also just takes being ready in the right place, and taking lots of walks helps too.
Which camera is your go to or most used?
The only film cameras working for me at the moment are a Nikon point and shoot, that Jake gave me for my birthday, and another Canon point and shoot, that I found on the road trip at some antique shop in Arkansas. My dad gave me his old Nikon EM 35mm that he used when he was a kid, but it’s got a few light leaks that I’m trying to fix at the moment. And my Canon T6i— - aka old reliable. I've had her since my sophomore year of high school and she's been with me through it all. I have never thought of replacing her and I don't plan on doing it anytime soon.
The type of film I use is really whatever is available and cheapest. I like experimenting with different films, but, at the end of the day, if it works it works.
What inspired you to hit the road this past summer?
Graduating. The search for America. Matt kept bugging me about it. Why the hell not?
Which photos are the most memorable?
I liked when David would fan out over animals and try to get as close as he could to take their pictures— - specifically him laying on his stomach for twenty minutes because there was a shy turtle. I liked when we would all be standing, minding our own business, and then a koi Matt would bum rush a sneak attack (‘Jack Ruby-ing’ is what we called it) with his fish-eye camera point-blank from your face, sometimes without the flash and sometimes bright as all hell. I liked when Jake would stand in a spot for what would feel like forever just to get the right angle, his hat pointed to the sun, and this scrunched look of concentration on his face. Plus he took a bunch of pictures and it made me feel like his muse, his clay, his art.
Similarly, what is an experience or event that sticks out in your memory?
I feel like I never got sick of looking out the window. The many canyons and hills and just the general emptiness that is the majority of our country kind of blend together. Nothing sticks out but I know they're there, I'm gonna have to go back and find them again.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I am in post-production of a short film that I had written and directed. I’m attempting to write my first feature-length screenplay. Myself. And I’m also trying to get a job. A lot of good stuff, I think.
Bobby Decker’s work is included in our current show, Rolling Along. The show is currently on view at PhotoLounge Gallery through February 27th.
Rolling Along was printed in PhotoLounge’s Print Lab with no cost to the featured artists. The exhibit has been made possible with dues from our Film Club members. For just $8 per month, everyone can join the film club to save on film processing and grow our community in Philly.