About the Photographer
American, b. 1969
In the series Dumpsites, Stephen Chalmers photographs places where serial killers have abandoned a victim's body. He determines the exact sites using police reports, true crime novels, or public records through the Freedom of Information act, and then locates them using GPS coordinates or a Google Earth search. In photographs such as Eric Church (22), nothing about the place reveals what happened there. To the contrary, the stillness and natural beauty of the location—in this case, a field of green grass with a few small flowers—belies its violent history. In an effort to draw the viewer into the image, Chalmers manipulates the plane of focus so that the only sharp part is the spot where the body was found. He titles the works with only the name and age of the victim. Chalmers hopes that the images can serve as an overdue memorial, refocusing attention onto the victims, who are typically overshadowed in the public eye by a morbid fascination with the killers. At the same time, in the absence of longer captions, Chalmers leaves most of the story to the viewer's imagination, questioning photography's ability to provide spectral evidence of bygone events.
Stephen Chalmers received a BS in Psychology and a BA in Photography at the University of Louisville, Kentucky (both 1993), and an MFA in Cinema and Photography at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (1999). He has also worked as an emergency medical technician. He lives in Spokane, Washington, and is currently a professor of photography and digital media at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.