I was excited to speak to you through Google for this conversation, but then I thought: "Would the new Instagram chat work better? How do you think your art is affected by the rapid ebbs and flows of the internet? Do you think your connection with the internet will change in 2014 or in the near future?
I have to admit, I have this weird feeling that I left the internet a long time ago. Of course, like most people, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the web, but it's become much more of a library or slideshow than anything else; I graze like a cow. I think I'm as much affected by it as I am by seasonal depression or something like that.
Right now, I can only see that ambivalence getting deeper in 2014, or maybe ambivalence isn't exactly the right word. But I definitely feel like it's more of a resource than anything else. It doesn't carry the weight that maybe it did when I first started adding my work to it. It's been normalized.
So you are trying to be less affected by the internet's scope? Also, do you believe in developing a personal brand?
Yes, well, the whole branding question is a whole other ball game! It's not that I'm actively trying to be affected by the internet, it's more that it's been normalized, like I said. I'm certainly affected by the things I read and see online, and the connections with people and institutions I make there, but it doesn't feel like it supersedes other forms of communication necessarily.
But, about branding, do I agree or disagree with the artist and their brand mentality? It's funny, just this week I had a lengthy conversation with a commercial photo agent who represents some artists I really admire, and he asked me to boil my work down to three essential concerns. It was funny, because while I was initially put off by the question, I immediately had an answer. It was something I've really been reacting against lately, too, because commercial work all comes off the back of some kind of brand-able element. It's confusing and frustratingly egoistic territory. Everyone is interested in a lot of different things, so naturally the concept of branding seems unnecessarily limiting. But I guess it depends on your goals and priorities. And everyone has their patterns.
Are most of your shoots collaborative works with the editor and art director or do you come in with something calculated and planned out to engage with? Where do you think your influence ends and begins with a shoot? What do you believe is the role of an artist's point of view when it comes to editorial photography?
In my case, the majority of my editorial and even commercial shoots are collaborative, up to a point. But of course each project is its own project. My general approach isn't particularly calculated, so I usually try to approach projects from the inside out. It really ranges — sometimes a client will give me a storyboard and expect me to reproduce it, sometimes a client will present me a problem and ask me to find my own solution. I would like to believe the artist's point of view is the essential ingredient to editorial photography, but it's really a case-by-case scenario.
John Baldessari's work revolved around communication, and I believe in that logic whole-heartedly, so I've been researching symbols lately and how humans digest them, consciously and subconsciously. What are some symbols that follow you and/or symbols that you look for in your daily life?
Totally! I'm obsessed with the idea of symbols and symbology. With all my denial about the internet earlier, I have to admit, though, that the thing that immediately comes to mind is Emojis on Instagram--we were joking about that earlier. I really love that the Highlight Magazine methodology is becoming assimilated into contemporary communication.
What's your favorite article of clothing that you own currently? What was it as a kid?
Ha! You know, I love this question. I have the happy advantage of living in the same apartment as my boyfriend's closet, so probably my favorite article is a pair of his pants or something. I like clothes that have kind of been decided for me, if that makes sense. I also have a huge candy-blue coat that makes me look like a jellyfish or something — really into that one.
As a kid, the first thing the comes to mind is a color-blocked sweatshirt — really 80s preschool realness. But I think that's just what I like now, looking back on it. Probably at the time my favorite thing was a scholastic book T-shirt with bugs or frogs printed all over it. I had a lot of those.
Ah, I think I am still searching for a good color block sweater but I will never beat my five year-old self in style.
Our moms were on it!
Photoshop: Friend or Foe? How long have you used the Creative Suite and how has it changed your work since you started shooting?
Are you kidding! What would I do without Photoshop! I mean, not the program itself, per se, but the ability to manipulate your images? I really can't understand arguments against Photoshop. Against poor use of Photoshop, sure, but surely editing images is just as important as making them. The act of taking a photograph already has so many technologies folded within it: who's taking the picture and why, what camera is it taken with, where is the film getting developed or who made the digital sensor... There's no reason to uphold the sanctity of those processes over the Photoshop. There's that whole uproar of Vogue vs Jezebel and the retouched pictures of Lena Dunham for their February issue... The whole thing is really a farce.
Agreed, I felt the argument was a low-point for the popular internet outlet.
So Photoshop, or some variant thereof, came pretty quickly into my practice. I think it's guided a lot of change in my work in the sense that it made certain types of experimentation much more accessible.
How do you introduce color to your process? When does the palette for the shoot or image you are editing come into play? Is it sometimes based on material availability? Which materials do you prefer to work with and why?
Are you asking the million dollar question? So, I'm a bit notorious for using studio paper backdrops in all kinds of silly ways, and that is definitely about availability. I love paper, it's such an amazing material, but my use of it is really more about using the studio environment at large as an active material (as opposed to a false space). I am all about availability.
Regarding color — it's not really something I feel like I introduce. I see in color, and color is really important, so it's there from the start. I'm pretty promiscuous with my colors, too — every color is beautiful given the right context, so my use of color is just a response to context. I'm all about availability!
If you could be doing anything besides photography in your life right now, what would it be?
My life is so consumed by photography and its off-shoots right now, it's really a hard question to stomach! I would be sleeping my proper seven hours a night, I guess.
If you had to choose another "career", though? And this is the last question!
I'm still into bugs and frogs, so probably something in the natural sciences — it has the same kind of balance between interpretive and objective as photography, so I could get into it.