I am a photographer based in north-central Indiana. While my work covers a broad spectrum of subjects such as concert and event photography, firefighters and public safety, agriculture, portraits, landscapes, journalistic and street photography, and humanitarian matters, I most enjoy photographing people in candid moments. I am an experienced traveler and have worked internationally with NPOs, creating photo and video content for their work. My work has been featured by National Geographic’s Your Shot, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and multiple news organizations. In addition to my freelance work under my brand The Stormworks, I am a photographer at Indiana University Kokomo in Kokomo, IN.
As an artist, my goal is to harness and express primal chaos-that essence of being that underlies all things at all times. I’m most interested in the internal conflicts of people–the wars in the soul and spirit that we each fight, and I strive to capture that in my photography in particular.
From growing up in a military family to working as a corrections officer, much of my life has been regimented and constrained by order, and the truth is, I’ve never been very good at following rules and outlines and protocols and procedures. I’ve never been a color-inside-the-lines-stay-in-the-box kind of person. And it shows in my overall artistic style, regardless of the medium I’m working in.
My work is driven by emotion. Passion, to be specific. The embrace of the human spirit and humanity through emotional expression in its most focused forms. From anger to love, sorrow to joy, and even, perhaps ironically, peace and temperance, I seek to reveal the soul of humanity by capturing glimpses of it in my work. The thing about humanity is that we’re messy. And our emotions are messy. And that translates into my work.
I prefer the raw, the visceral, the primal, the gritty. In my digital work I like to over-saturate colors and textures. In traditional fine art media I stray away from clean lines and edges, preferring to allow the instruments I’m working with, whether paint or ink or charcoal or anything else to follow its own course. As a photographer, I try to pull stories out of captured moments, framing the heart and soul of a person, place, or thing in such a way as to reveal what our eyes might miss in a fluid moment.
I’m seeking to express my experiences in the world and the emotions that come from them, without actually defining them. In my work, the ragged edges, the under- or over-exposed slightly out-of-focus images, and the feeling of work unfinished represents that. Humanity, and our emotions, are a work in progress. Likewise, many artists never feel that their work is ever truly “finished.” So I make a conscious effort to represent that.
It is my hope that my work finds resonance with others, giving them a chance to identify with those expressions, especially if they struggle with expression on their own terms, or if they feel they haven’t been given a voice for them–or worse, if they’ve had their voice taken away from them.
In addition to my photographic work as an artist I explore various media and forms of expression, from graphic design to music.
The Stormworks is my personal brand, and what I do most of my freelance work under. While it’s geared towards the heavy music underground scene (rock and metal, mostly)–from band logos to album art to music videos–I do take on clients from all walks of life, working with them to realize their brand identities through logo design, photography, videography, and more.
Nova Vox developed as a part of a social entrepreneurship exploration course I took at Indiana University Kokomo. The focus of the course was developing and launching a social enterprise in response to the Clinton Foundation’s annual challenge for the Hult Prize, which for 2017 was “Reawakening Human Potential” and dealt with the global refugee crisis. This also included 10 days in England to meet with and learn from successful social enterprise leaders. While Nova Vox was initially focused on the global refugee crisis, it has since expanded to humanitarian work in general, and has become the non-profit arm of The Stormworks. The goal of Nova Vox is to restore the dignity of victims silenced by humanitarian crisis and social injustice by giving them new voices through photo and video documentary.
The Forge started out as a weekly radio show on Indiana University Kokomo’s student-run internet radio station, Radio Free Kokomo. Featuring local and regional unsigned hard rock and metal bands, it gained popularity quickly and became a daily show less than a semester after its creation. After the university shut down the station, I launched The Forge as a 24/7 station of its own, doing full-slate programming, including spots and station identity. The station ran for almost a year before technical issues forced me to shut it down. I’d like to eventually put a full station back online, but have also been considering the possibility of seeing if there’s an existing station that would be interested in adding The Forge to its line up.
Salem’s Childe is my band. We’re a mix of hard rock and metal, with emphasis on the metal. We’ve released one album so far, a 5-song EP, followed by the single, “Prometheus”, and are otherwise writing new music and playing gigs locally.
All content on this blog, not limited to but including poetry, short stories, photography, artwork, lyrics, and music, is Copyright © 2012-2018 Rob Salem, unless otherwise noted. Copying or redistribution in any form of any material on this site is not allowed without express written permission. For publishing or permissions of use queries, email robsalem6[at]gmail[dot]com.