When Tanner Almon ’02, visual and performing arts, and Vicki Yasuoka-Almon ’03, visual arts, collect photos of their life together, you can bet it won’t be your average family album. You’ll most likely encounter the husband-and-wife team’s work on a series of popular blogs, which feature photos of themselves sporting giant fuzzy hats or frolicking at an abandoned amusement park. And, sometimes, reviews of the work from Tanner’s mom.
The duo has been making art together since they met at UMBC in 2001. They first became acquainted through classes, but it was a film project that cemented them together as a couple.
“We knew that we were right for each other when Tanner volunteered to play a drug dealer in my Film 2 final,” jokes Yasuoka-Almon.
“My drugs were actually just a baggie full of Tic-Tacs,” quips Almon.
The couple spent some time working for Baltimore filmmaker John Waters before heading west to Los Angeles to work in film production. They eventually moved back east, to New York, where Yasuoka-Almon teaches kindergarten in Brooklyn and Almon is a producer at Howcast Media – a company that produces and streams how-to videos.
Their passion remains the art they make together, however – be it film or, more recently, photography. Using blogs as a distribution vehicle, the couple’s work has attracted serious attention among wired photography enthusiasts.
“I think our first collaboration was a series of photos we took at the Jolly Roger theme park in Ocean City,” recalls Almon. “The park is always completely shut down for winter, but not really locked up. So we sort of just walked in wearing Boy Scout uniforms we purchased at a thrift store and took photos of us on adventures in the various water slides and bumper cars.”
The couple’s shared aesthetic is imaginative and quirky, and they delight in making use of abandoned spaces for their storytelling. “The most fun part, at least for me, is creating odd characters and stories to fill up these awesome environments,” explains Almon. “The only limit is our imagination.”
Their favorite collaboration thus far has been “My Mom Reviews My Photos” – a Tumblr-based photo blog project that grew out of a trip home for the holidays.
“I was planning to take a photo every single day for a year with an instant camera,” says Almon. “And I had just bought my mom and sister these giant fluffy mouse hats, but they hated the hats, so I kept them. During our drive home after the holidays, I took a picture of Vicki at a rest stop wearing one of the hats.”
An idea was born. Almon and Yasuoka-Almon decided to take a picture of themselves wearing the hats every day and send them to Almon’s mom to review. Each week, they would fill up a big pink trunk with props and wardrobe items, the then haul it around Greenpoint, Brooklyn, or drive to some new destination.
“It was really cool to see how it evolved over time,” says Yasuoka-Almon. “At first, it was just kind of random, but it eventually turned into weekly story lines with videos, and it was funny to see what Tanner’s mom had to say about everything.”
Almon agrees: “[My mom] definitely enjoyed the collaboration, especially once she realized that we actually had a bit of following on Tumblr.”
“My Mom Reviews My Photos” eventually drew fans from around the world. “These days the Internet is so saturated with content that it’s pretty tough to get anything noticed,” says Almon. “So the fact that every so often I get nice emails from folks around the globe about our silly art projects is terrific. It definitely encourages me to keep on doing what I’m doing.”
The couple recently welcomed a new daughter, Emi Yasuoka Almon – who is already being featured in the art that intertwines with their lives and has become a life force in itself.
“If you really like doing the art but you’re not getting paid to do it,” Almon enthuses, “just keep doing it anyway. Don’t stop making art.”
— Meredith Purvis