the photographer creating supernatural portraits of atlanta
Josiah Rundles captures the beautiful faces and scenery that make up one of America's most fabled cities.
Josiah Rundles: From rising stars to industry heavyweights, i-D meets the photographers offering unique perspectives on the world around them.
“There are so many stories to be told here,” 23-year-old photographer Josiah Rundles says of his hometown Atlanta. “It’s a place full of different cultures transplanted from all over the world, mixed together with the rawness the South.”
Josiah only got into photography a couple of years ago. When we first met him in 2016 he was working as a stylist. But immersed in a city that takes in so much authentic, local style, intersecting with an era-defining music scene, it only took a friend buying him a cheap film camera for Josiah to realise he was well-placed to capture a city constantly growing and evolving. “Music holds so much weight in the culture here -- hip-hop especially -- some of the best musicians in the world are from here or live here... that carries the energy from Atlanta to the rest of America and beyond,” he says. “The city is developing everyday and the cost of living is still cheaper than up north or on the west coast.” The energy is… “Do it yourself, with the limited resources at your disposal.”
His work, characterised by a delicate use of soft light and colour, faces away from the sprawling city, and into its suburbs, parks and forests. “I love depicting natural colour harmonies in nature, the idea of multiple realities and making art that reflects on the current state of the world,” he says. “Whatever the subject is, I'll try and frame it as beautiful or supernatural... even if it’s intrinsically not.” The effect is something that feels honest to the city, rather than a perspective forged inauthentically. “It removes the noise and disruptions of the city and makes it something far more personal and intimate.”
With his latest project, Josiah has gone further with juxtaposing modern youth culture against natural landscapes. “I wanted to examine this generational shift with regards to technology,” he says. “I wanted to touch on what my generation is dealing with because of social media, things like the need for instant gratification, depression, comparison, the feeling of being connected and lonely at the same time.” By placing his subjects across bright green lawns, painted picket fences, totally immersed in their phones, he makes a stark albeit obvious statement about how quickly habits change. “A decade or two ago you would’ve seen a child obsessed with a toy, they’re now obsessed with a device. It really came to me while visiting my two-year-old nephew and just watching him and what interests him.”
Across his different personal projects, editorials and portraiture of some Atlanta’s biggest names, more than anyJosiah creates, simple, beautiful imagery. “I like the idea of adding something of my own to Atlanta’s art scene and legacy,” he finishes. “I grew up here and have learned so much from the city, I want to give back the same.”