Exceptional books, excerpted

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The Excerptional Questionnaire with photographer Aaron Stern

Tell us about yourself.

I’m from Maryland. Moved to New York in 2001 a few months before 9/11. I took pictures when I was younger and stopped for about ten years. I love New York but wish I got to live there before the internet. I like the internet.

photography and art books…they’re the art I can afford to buy.

I like to take pictures at airports and of my friends. I like film and Polaroid. I wish I was more organized. I’d like to make a lot more books and zines and print more of my work. I want to produce some group shows with my friends. I hope this new book allows me to meet lots of new people and visit new places.

From where do you draw your inspiration?

I don’t really know. I just want to try and capture a moment, and hope that picture shows what I’m feeling when I took it. Through the images in the book I tried to tell a story of loss, love and relationships. I was not so much inspired by any one thing, it was more by heartbreak, love, death and the feeling of emptiness and space.

What do you hope to inspire in others?

I’m not sure what I’d want to inspire in others, but I hope that people can relate to the theme of the book.

What role does print play in today’s culture?

I think a lot of people still like to read the actual paper. I still buy magazines and read the New York Times paper and the magazine on Sundays.

In terms of photography and art books, for me they’re the art I can afford to buy. So I hope other people feel the same way. I know that print is being made less. I think that people and advertisers are not really sure what to do right now with the state of media in such constant flux.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The first person to name their price in a negotiation loses. My father told me that and it’s always held true.

What’s your favorite book and why?

Not sure that I have one particular book I like the most. Any book that I can get my hands on that Daido Moriyama has made, Paul Graham’s Hasselblad Award 2012 book, I really liked Mike Brodie’s new book A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, and all the obvious ones Eggleston, Larry Clark’s Teenage Lust, Robert Frank’s The Americans… there are too many to name. I don’t have one that I love the most.

View an excerpt from Aaron’s book, I Woke Up in My Clothes.