1. Most artists have a favorite medium, what is yours? If you work in multiple media, which one is the most enjoyable for you?
1. As a photographer, my medium could or should be film, but it’s not. To keep up with high demand, workflow and ease of use, I use a digital camera and photoshop.
2. Do you have any secret shortcuts? I mean, do you use odd tools, techniques, or anything else that isn’t strictly status-quo for your medium? How did you figure out that it worked?
2. I am not sure if I use secret shortcuts. I have my camera set and adjusted for my personal use, and if another photographer picked up my camera, they may find that they wouldn’t choose my default metering choice, or the fact that I am set up to burst shoot on demand. With my recent foray into levitation photography and surrealism, I figure I’m less “status quo” because I look for wind, light and environments that portrait/consumer friendly photographers would not gravitate towards. I spent countless hours learning how to shoot a model and encourage them to not look like a mannequin. Flow and movement play a huge part in my “other” photography work that doesn’t include my mainstream clients.
3. You’ve sold work before? What was the first thing someone bought from you, that you made? How did it feel to sell that piece? Are there pieces you keep hidden away, or keep for yourself, and why?
3. I have sold work before. To be fair, I “sell” work on a consistent basis. Whether it’s a photo session for a newborn, or an image that I birthed through my travels/vision/emotion. Being a person that is skilled with a camera means that I am always for sale. The fact that my work is digital means that I CAN mass-produce, but that doesn’t at all mean that I WILL sell my photography. I tend to keep certain things sacred. Shots I took while on vacation that would be an “easy” postcard type of mass-appeal shot, I’m not interested in sharing or selling. There’s plenty of that to saturate the market and those images are my memories and private accomplishments, not another “Welcome to Asbury Park” wall hanging to hang over someone’s toilet.
4. Working with people is sometimes the hardest part of art. How do you deal with (commission requests/demanding tattoo clients/bad art ideas/people asking if you have a real job)?
4. It would be cliche for me to say that my clients/customers are the best thing about my job… Because sometimes, they aren’t. Sometimes, I have a much different vision or I am asked to use my camera to do things that I would never do. I don’t WANT to do posed and particular shots during a wedding, for example. However, I know that my clients hired me for not just my skill, but my vision as well. They trust me. So I have to take the good with the bad. They give me a lot of leash, so when I’m asked to do things that are typically not my gig, I do them. There has to be a compromise. They are, afterall, paying for my skills, my time, my equipment and my eye. In my opinion, nobody ever gets their way 100% of the time. So, I’m lucky to be hired for what I do, be trusted to do what I do, and I oblige when I’m asked to do things that are outside of my invisi-square.
5. What jobs did you have before you started arting? You don’t have to list them all- but were any particularly awful, or interesting? Did those jobs influence the way you approach your art now?
5. I have had many jobs before and during my photography career. I began volunteering where my mother worked as a Health Care Aide when I was 14. I worked as a job coach for folks with mental/physical disabilities. I have worked as a respite worker for children with Autism (and their families). I have been a bartender/cocktail waitress in and out of strip clubs since I was about 20 years old. I went to school to become a certified Health Care Aide. Sure, people told me to get a “real job” when I was a cocktailer or bartender in a club, but I still bartend to this day. I like doing it and I will do it until I’m too old and wrinkly. I managed to buy a house and be a single mom for several years without a “real job” as a bartender. I have been a photographer for 9 years and I have absolutely been scoffed at. I think that other bitter photographers that scrape and scrounge for jobs are far worse to deal with than any client I have ever dealt with.
6. How long have you been working in photography? Do you think there are any new ideas in that field that are worth pursuing?
6. I guess I already answered this question in #5, but I have been a photographer for 9 years. I absolutely feel that there are ever-evolving ideas in my fields that are worth looking into and pursuing. I have pictures of myself as a baby where I’m wearing stupid glasses, hats and I’m propped up on my arms. That was the “norm” with newborn photography when I was tiny. Fads come and go with photography. For a long time, people scrimped and saved so they could have photographs done of dead family members… long before cameras and film were readily affordable and accessible. Memento Mori- That was a fad that also seemed to pass. Every facet of photography will be ever-evolving. We live in a society where people can whip out a small telephone/computer/camera from their pocket. and document life. I have to be adaptable and relevant. As long as I am both, I will have a job.
7. How do you feel about using projectors, tracing, and photographs as reference for your work? Do you use these? Do you think it’s cheating if you use your own sketches or photographs to start out with? And, what do you think of camera obscuras, camera lucidas, and other optical aids like grids, for perspective and proportion?
7. I was going to say that I felt that this question didn’t really apply to me… but I wanted to answer anyway. I use guides, rules of thumb, aids and references every day when I work with my medium. There are some reference points that are purely undeniable and irreplaceable (as far as my work goes). I can bend and break the rules all day long, but math is math. If I want a perfect photograph, I must follow the rules.
8. Have you taken any formal art classes? Have you had a mentor help you? Do you have “spirit artists” to guide you? (artists, living or dead, who you do not personally know, but to whom you look for inspiration or answers)
8. I have never taken a photography course or class. I am completely self-taught in both photography and Photoshop. That isn’t to say I don’t think that classes aren’t valid or valuable. I learn by making mistakes and “try try try”. I don’t learn by sitting in a classroom. That being said, I look to others artists and photographers for inspiration. I can’t say I have a name I would drop here… that wouldn’t be true. My world is seen through a lens whether I’m watching a movie, reading an article, or driving down the road. It’s just the way my brain works. Everything teaches me.
9. Do you make prints or reproduce your work? Do you like galleries? Do you hang your art in bars or coffeeshops? How do you feel about public exposure to your work? Does it make you nervous to be in a spotlight, or do you enjoy it?
9. Typically, I provide my clients with digital files, but I have printed, galleried and displayed my work. I participate in local volunteer-run art shows and contribute when I can. I love if/when my work is in the spotlight, but I do not like the limelight for myself (unless I have had whisky. If I have whisky, I will sing with a local band and play a tambourine until I have bruises and blisters.)
10. If you earn your living with art, how many hours a week do you work? Counting research, sketching, cleaning up, framing, promotion, etc. Do you think you get paid a decent wage for this? Do you think it matters, as long as you’re enjoying the work?
10. It wouldn’t be fair to say I earn my living with my work. I am married and have been married for 11 years. My husband is the breadwinner in this house, and that has afforded me many luxuries that many other true artists do not enjoy. I have benefits because of him and his job. I have steady income when I choose to work outside of the home (for someone other than myself). My photography career can masquerade as a hobby. If I’m not booking paying jobs, I can just as easily hop in the car and drive to an abandoned house and create something magical with my camera and a model. Will it sell? Sure, if I work to make it sell. I have to hustle to make sure my skills are bought. I have to hustle to make sure my images are hung on someone’s wall. I’d be lying if I said that paid my bills. Conversely, if I didn’t have a cushion and a husband that worked his balls off, you can rest assured I’d work much harder to peddle my wares. My camera and my ideas consume more hours than a 40 hour a week job. I am brainstorming, shooting, promoting and fiddling with old images and ideas. If this was my full-time gig, I’d never sleep.
11. When you began with photographs, what was the hardest thing to learn?
11. When I began to take photos for pay, the hardest thing to learn was how to run a business. I recently had a young lady approach me on Facebook and tell me that she was supposed to interview someone (for a class project) that was working in the profession she hoped to one day work in. She chose me. She wants to be a photographer. One question she asked me was “in hindsight, what is the most important advice you could impart on someone that hopes to one day work in your field?” My reply was “don’t take a photography course. If you don’t have the innate skills, you’ll make a shitty photographer and you’ll have wasted your money. Take a business course. Photography is running a business and promoting that business. Learn to run a business, not a camera” Her teacher loved that reply.
12. When you began making art, what was the hardest thing to do? What mistakes did you make? Do you have pictures of any of those mistakes you can share? How did you solve that problem?
12. When I started to really call myself a photographer (as opposed to a chick with a good camera), I think the hardest thing for me to do was to learn to see the world through my camera and replicate it or document it. I’d drive by a place and stop my car because I saw the perfect image. I’d stop, pull over and run out with my camera, only to be let down with my results. I began to see my world through a viewfinder. I began to watch movies and see artistry in filming and appreciate the art that is photography. I began working as a photographer because I was able to capture emotion and convey that to others. I wasn’t technically sound… and I learned that emotion doesn’t sell or make you money if you can’t properly expose an image.
13. Do you have a site where you sell your work? which site, and how do you like it?
13. I do not currently have a site where I sell my work. Sorry I can’t help with this question… but it certainly lit a fire under my ass! ( I tried Etsy… I’m not “community” enough to make myself popular on there)
14. Anyone you want to give a shout-out to? One or two names only…
14. Right now, if I’m sending shout outs, I’m sending them to more than one or two people. Because fuck your rules, Anji. My momma Cheryl, Nicole for being an amazing new friend, Lisa for always being a solid friend, Ange for being a sister from far away, my husband Corey for being Corey… and you, Anji… For allowing me to learn more about myself in a Facebook interview than most have helped me learn in a long while.
15. When you aren’t working, what are you doing with your time? Do you have any hobbies that are totally apart from your creative work, or does your art tend to creep in to your recreation time?
15. When I am not working as a photographer I am; editing old photos, doing laundry, saving some random animal from sure peril, debating the issues of the world with my husband, parenting my children (because bad parents that don’t pay attention to their kids SUCK), editing more old photos, reading tutorials on photography and photo editing, reading books, cooking, thrift shopping, refinishing/upcycling, drinking nice whisky or wine, seeing local bands or walking barefoot somewhere. As you can see, my art tends to creep into my recreation time. But I also enjoy debating and getting worked up and borderline angry.