What inspires you the most right now?
A lot of what I see on a day to day basis inspires me, my perception has created this visually interesting and beautiful world around me. Things I'm feeling inspire me, even if they're sad. I'll take it all. I get inspired often by my observations of everything and everyone around me. That's awfully vague but it's hard to be specific when there's so much. There are photographers whose work I see on a daily basis that inspire me. The notion of instagram, the fact that it can be this little visual pocket diary, to me, it is inspiring.
Do you ever get shy when it comes to photograph strangers?
Certainly! I can be shy in general, but I've progressed over time and it's become a lot easier to ask strangers to photograph them. My current job has also instilled a stronger sense of self-confidence and general improvement when talking to complete strangers and minding my word choices. I always remember that if I don't ask them it's a chance I missed because I couldn't muster up the guts.
What's enjoyable and what's annoying about shooting self-portraits?
What's enjoyable is that it's all you. It's a self-documentation, a way of getting to know yourself through your own work. A young photographer named Lexi Mire, whom I admire, began a series of self portraits titled “self portrait therapy” and it really got me thinking about the therapy within them, and how it really can be quite calming and healing. Another advantage of being both the photographer and model is that you know yourself best, and can get across what you want to without having to try to find the words to explain it to another individual. The annoying thing, I think, is that you're pretty critical of yourself.
You have a series called "An Awakening", in which you depict the a form of "enlightenment" of the self. Do you think of it as a moment or a process?
The series originated on a moment, but in retrospect it can apply to the whole process. It originated the moment I took this photo. I had just finished preparing the girl in the photo, and setting everything on the camera. I asked her to open her eyes and as she slowly did, powder fell from her eyelashes and her striking blue eyes came into view below the soft, white flurry. To me, it was a visual interpretation of “an awakening”. At that time I had been learning large format for the first time, and it was intimidating. Every negative I shot made me shake and sweat rolled down my back. I took so much time for every turn and twist of the camera, I could hear myself breathe. This process took so much out of me than any other process had before. I was learning something new and soaking myself in it all, so the process alone was like an awakening of sorts for myself.
What are you working on currently?
Currently I've just been shooting editorial work for the magazine I'm a staff contributor for, Fixation Magazine. I have gotten to work with some great models this year and I only hope that continues. I'm always working on side projects and brainstorming for future ones. I am currently trying to finish putting together a photo book and looking for publishers. I really hope to collaborate more as the year continues and that the collaborations only grow into the next year. The idea of creative brains merging together makes me so excited.
How did you feel when people started getting interested in photos showing your hands (like in "#Ahanda) more and more?
At first, I thought it was funny that my hands were getting such attention, because they never had before. Every once in a while a stranger would kindly compliment my “long, skinny fingers”, but it wasn't very often. They all sort of made me see the beauty in my own hands, the beauty I had seen in my mother's hands from a young age. I really enjoy doing the series and I'm smitten that others do too.
What's your position on nudity in art?
If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, then don't.
As a photographer, do you ever get the feeling of being a "chronicler" of the times we live in?
All the time! I feel as if I'm documenting my life, and the lives around me (from my perspective). It's going to be really surreal looking back when I'm older and having this large visual time line and to be able to see how I evolved as well as the world around me. I am forever a chronicler.
Something that makes living in Dayton, OH special?
The fact that it's a tiny city in rural Midwest. The Midwest has it's own certain beauty as well as the folks who inhibit it. Dayton was once a bustling place but I'd be lying if I said it still was. It's certainly got a lot of folks working hard in their own ways to revive it and for that I am thankful. There's a small but heart-warming community of artists and good people. Living in a place like this makes you more resourceful; you don't have things to do and places to see at your fingertips. You go out and find adventure and find the tucked away gems. Their rarity only makes them all the more special. For a long while I really disliked living here, then something happened and I started to see the beauty and comfort of the Midwest.
What couldn't you live without?
My family. I'd be one eternally unhappy human without them in my life. Light comes next.
Striking portraits. Take a look at her work!