Catherine Losing  |  London

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Hello Catherine, thanks for submitting your work to Women in Photography. Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and how you got into photography?
I’m a photographer and director, originally from The Isle of Axholme, UK but now based in London. I studied photography from the age of 16 at John Leggett College and after I graduated from Nottingham Trent University I moved down here to assist professional photographers. I’ve been shooting my own work exclusively for about 5 years now. I shoot personal projects, editorials, advertising and TV ads. They are usually based in still life.

You are a still life photographer - what fascinates you about this genre?
To be honest, I first got into still life photography because I preferred the pace of it. I was assisting a lot of fashion and music photographers. The shoots were always really hectic and involved huge crews. For my personal projects, I much preferred working with a small team and using objects and sets to portray themes and ideas.   

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Your work is very colourful with a unique style … How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
I like things looking clean and graphic. My boyfriend has a theory it’s because I grew up in the Lincolnshire fens where the landscape is extremely flat and linear! I get a lot of satisfaction out of planning and shooting interesting colour combinations. It’s always the colours that catch my eye when looking at other people’s artwork.  

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You have worked for Vogue, Lacoste, Moma, just a few to mention… There are many people involved in a photo shoot like this. Can you tell us a bit about your workflow? 
Magazines, advertising agencies or sometimes even clients directly, get in touch with myself or my agent. They generally have a specific project in mind and I go away and I create a treatment in response to their brief. In the meantime, my agent puts together a team and a budget. For commercial work it is normally a 3-way bid, meaning I’m one of 3 photographers or directors up for the job. If the costs and my vision for approaching their project all add up then they will present me to the client or brand. If we’re lucky enough to win the bid, we go into production. A producer is assigned to the job by my agency and we put everything in place; set designers, assistants or DOPs, technical teams, equipment, studios, post production or retouchers, food stylists, fashion stylists and cast any people that might feature. The whole time we’ll be feeding back to the clients on the progress and decisions we’re making. The shoot is almost the smallest part of a big commercial job!    

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Do you have enough artistic freedom on a shoot for brands?
It changes from project to project. Some get in touch and want me to just run with an idea and create images in my own style. But some people have a very specific list of requirements and deliverables, even down to the colours we include and the crops of the images down to the nearest pixel.   

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Many photographers don’t have any idea how long the process of a commercial photo shoot is. Can you tell us more about it?
It varies hugely. Sometimes I have 2 days notice for an editorial. I make a quick mood board for the Art Director and then it’s just me and an assistant shooting in my studio, the photos go straight to a retoucher and then onto the magazine in a matter of hours. With larger projects, the time between an initial meeting with an ad agency though to the work being published can be up to 18 months and involve lots of people sometimes up to around 50 on large ad campaigns. Both ends of the spectrum are exciting in their own way.  

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What advice would you give female photographers who want to get into commercial photography? 
Assist! It’s really hard to comprehend the work that goes on behind the scenes without being involved or seeing it for yourself. It is the best way to build up contacts, most of the people I collaborate with today used to assist the set designers and stylists that worked with the photographers I worked for. Also if someone tries to pigeonhole you because you’re a woman, don’t feel like you have to prove them wrong or prove yourself above and beyond a role, that person is a dinosaur that won’t change, there’s no time for them and you’ll be better off working with someone else. Opportunities are definitely getting better for women in photography, you don’t have to put up with people being sexist dicks anymore.  

Besides photography, you work as a filmmaker. What was the key trigger for this?
I’m signed to Blink Art, who are a branch of Blink Productions who have a massive reputation for fun TV ads and music videos. A lot of commercial jobs now aren’t just photographs, they want gifs, animations or films for social media and video billboards. I’m lucky enough that with Blink it just feels like a natural part of my photography practice. 

Last question! Do you have a dream project or brand you wanna shoot?
Lots and lots! But first I definitely want to get some more personal projects off my chest after such a busy couple of years of commercial work. My recent commission from MoMA for their ‘Is Fashion Modern?’ show was an absolute dream job that I could never have dreamt up! I think sometimes the best projects find you. 

‘Is Fashion Modern?’

‘Is Fashion Modern?’

Sarah M. Lee | London

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Sarah studied English Literature at University College London (UCL) in the late 1990s and trained herself as a photographer.

In 2000 she was offered a freelance position at the Guardian and has continued to work for the Guardian and Observer ever since. Sarah is specialized in portraiture, features and the Arts and interested in all photography that focuses on people.

In 2011-2012, she shot most of the commercial portraits to accompany Coldplay’s MX album and tour. Her work has appeared in many publications and places, including the covers of TIME magazine, Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times, Intelligent Life and Vanity Fair. She’s also an official BAFTA Photographer and an official Ambassador for Leica Camera. 

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Hello Sarah, I admire your portrait work a lot and so it’s a huge pleasure to interview you for Women in Photography. You actually studied English Literature. What has finally brought you into photography?
I came to photography relatively late in that I was given a camera for my 18th birthday, a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm 1.6 lens. I didn’t have a specific interest in photography until this point but once I’d learned how to use the camera I became quite obsessed. Unfortunately, film and developing film was quite expensive and I was a student with an extremely limited budget. So my opportunities for learning and developing my new skill were frustrating limited. Fortunately, someone, I can’t remember who but I’m forever grateful to them let me in on the secret that if I started working for the student newspaper I’d have an unlimited supply of film and access to a dark room with printing materials. What I couldn’t have known was that the student paper in question was being picture edited by Abbie Trayler-Smith and other photographers on its roster included Ed Alcock, Dom Tyler and Christophe Tweedie so it was an unbelievable hothouse. Not just a place to learn, not just to print (which I did) but also to grow and develop as a photographer. In effect, it was a second university experience running in parallel with the literature degree I was also doing. Unquestionably I “graduated” from this experience into the career I now have in that it was the Guardian student media awards which introduced me to the Guardian’s then picture editor Eamon McCabe, who on the strength of the portrait I’d taken of the novelist Iris Murdoch, offered me a job. 

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Was it clear for you that your work would focus on portrait photography?
Yes, if it doesn’t sound horribly pompous I’ve always been interested in the long tradition of humanist photography. I’m interested in people. I like people. It would never have occurred to me to have a career that didn’t involve portraiture. That would be unthinkable to me. 

What is a good portrait photo for you?
To me a “good portrait” is one which is honest. One where there is obviously a honest connection with the sitter. Obviously composition, light use of colour [or if you’re working in black and white; texture and tone] matter enormously but all these things, in my opinion are to be used by the photographer to service the emotional connection with the subject and to capture that moment of honesty. Without that all the technical brilliance in the world is meaningless and a “portrait” just becomes an advertising image. But where those things work together you have incredible magic. Think for example of the famous Arnold Newman portrait of Stravinsky - one of my favourites that I hope illustrates what I’ve been trying, slightly clumsily, to say. But also there is something very deceptive about the simplicity of some the best portraits there seems to be so little to them, but it’s all in the incredible understanding between the photographer and the subject and the photorapher's skill in knowing exactly how to capture that. Think how powerful Wolfgang Tilmans portraits are, but how bad so many of the imitations of them are! I’m in danger of waffling, but put as simply as I can: good portraiture is entirely dependent on honest and emotional connection. Without that all else is lost.

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Let's talk about your latest project called „Tender are the Nighthawks“. Can you tell us something about it? 
“Tender are the Nighthawks” is a new series I’ve been working on mostly though not entirely exclusively in Camden and North London where I live. The title gives clues to my inspiration for this project in that it references both Keats “Ode to a Nightingale” and Edward Hopper and I’m trying I suppose to capture that strangely specific still point in the turning world between the very late night and the early morning when the city is at it’s quietest and the very very last stragglers are coming home from their night outs alongside the workers who have to get to work just before the dawn. I love the way the bus system in London is so democratic, used by everyone. All classes, all ages all socio-economic groups and races of people. It’s cheap and crisscrosses the entire city. I’m interested in tone and mood, and looking for the things that unite us, moments I suppose that emphasise our shared humanity, in a city that is hard to live in. Moments of tender melancholy are what I most hope to catch. I’m not sure I always manage that, but it’s what I’m trying to do. 

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The pictures of „Tender are the Nighthawks“ are very powerful and intimate. Each picture tells their own story. It must have been very difficult to shoot in a bus or from the outside without being recognized. Can you reveal us some insights how you did that?   
For a photographer, buses can be a bit of a gift in that they tend to be lit on the inside in a way that to my eye can make them seem like moving Hoppereque diner windows, each one with a vignette or framed tableaux of city-dwellers absorbed living their lives. And thank god in Britain we have entirely opaque bus windows unlike in many other countries where the glass is darkened to combat the effects of the bright sun - not a problem we face that often! Though I’ve discovered the 88 Bus is hopeless for this project, the lighting just doesn’t work, the shadows it creates are all wrong, my heart sinks when I see it approach... In terms of working candidly, that does create its own issues. I’ve shot all this work on a Leica M Rangefinder with a 50mm lens usually open at f1.4 or f2 in very low light. This means I have to be pretty accurate with my focusing. There can be no ‘shooting from the hip’ secret guesstimating with my framing or focusing. This can be challenging when you are trying to be discrete at 3 am at a bus stop…. So far I’ve got away with it. I very much subscribe to the asking for forgiveness rather than permission school of candid documentary photography. I do often explain what I’m up to after the fact if I’m spotted and someone says something. There is no point being confrontational as a woman alone on the street in the middle of the night [carrying an expensive camera]. Often sympathetic eye contact and apologetic smiles help me get away with it... Also at that hour my subjects have been drinking and aren’t that sharp or aware of their surroundings/ sneaky photographers which can help me too... Technically I find focussing on something very near the subject when they aren’t looking gives me a head start for speed so that I can be quick on the rangefinder when I do want to focus, so I will often blatantly focus on their shoes and then when I feel ready to reframe more boldly…  

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Was there a certain „trigger“ to start „Tender are the Nighthawks“?
One of the first photography books I ever bought was Tom Wood’s phenomenal “Bus Odyssey” and it certainly sparked an interest in photographing on Buses. I also love Bob Mazzar and Nick Turpin’s recent work though I very much hope this doesn’t feel derivative. Personally I feel the buses are big enough for all of us and there are much more people out there being inspired by them all the time... It has always felt like a series I’d like to do to be honest since I started living in London, it was just a matter of when rather than “if”.. I can’t quite remember what started me off, but I call it “prowling” now and I’m very much in the middle of this series now, I definitely haven’t got it out of my system yet.

Besides your personal projects, you work as a photographer for the Guardian. What advice would you give young female photographers who want to start a career as a photojournalist or in the publishing business?  
Oh god, the hardest question of all! The industry has changed so much [and not really for the better] since I started 18 years ago. Pictures seem to have been devalued. Clients pay less for photography. There is the dreadful culture of “exposure” etc. What I would definitely advise for women starting out is an extension of what I’d advise anyone, and that is to always try and remember the value of your work. Do never work for free, or for exposure. If someone wants you to work for them then they want YOU and your work, they will also, as a rule, be willing to pay [even though they may try to claim otherwise]. I’m not for a moment suggesting money matters more than art. But knowing your work has a value is very psychologically important and it is also extremely important if like me, and like many other photographers, you don’t have a private income. Because if you don’t earn from your work you quickly stop being able to work as a photographer. And following on from this I would say for women don’t be afraid at calling out sexism where you see it, or the sort of everyday discrepancies that shouldn’t be there but are. It can be hard at the start of a career to do this, but if you do it when you see it and feel it I think it sets a tone about who you are and how you yourself would like to be treated. Also, and this applies to all photographers, use whatever works for you TO WORK for you. I’m always amazed when I see other photographers work because I just couldn’t do what they do. I can only really do what I do. But that’s ok, I’m me and I’m trying to learn and improve all the time as me. But it took me the best part of 15 years to be ok with this. I spent FAR too long being hung up that I wasn’t all the other people I admire or am in awe of. That way madness, and, worse, lack of authenticity lies. 

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How do you prepare yourself when you are on an assignment, for example, a portrait shoot? How important is the atmosphere between yourself and your subject? Do you give your subject any direction? 
I approach every shoot differently. I prefer a loose approach and to try and respond to each situation organically and be open to each shoot as it unfolds rather than come with an idea of how it will be. And yes, the atmosphere between myself and the subject is HUGELY important!! I try everything I can to make that work. It doesn’t always happen, but as a rule I find I enjoy meeting and being with pretty much all types of people and find that aspect of this job an enormous privilege. Hopefully, that comes across and makes that atmosphere a bit smoother to start with. Though as I said there has been the odd personality clash and then it’s made the resulting shoot nothing but painful! 

Is there any photographer who has influenced you as a person or your work?
God, too many to name. I hesitate to say anyone’s influences my work because I wouldn’t dream of saying the names of the people I admire alongside my own work. I bloody wish my work showed their influence. But in no particular order, and no doubt missing several important names off this list, here are some of the photographers who are always top of my list:  William Eggleston,  Saul Letter,  Cartier-Breson, Vivian Maier, Stephen Shore, Polly Borland, Jillian Edlestein,  Jane Bown, Helmut Newton, Tim Walker, David Hurn, Martin Parr, Sean Smith, Abbie Trayler-Smith, Laura Pannack… Actually, the list goes on. This is an impossible question. Thank the gods. 

Final question! When you need to choose one of your favourite pictures you took. Which would it be and can you explain to us why?
I’m not sure I’ve taken it yet. But of what I’ve done so far. It may be my first proper published portrait. The one I took of Iris Murdoch back when I was both a student and a student photographer. She is still my favourite novelist, and one of the people I’m most delighted to have met. But, it is also a portrait that literally changed the course of my life. I may well have stayed an amateur photographer and had my life go in an entirely different direction had Eamon McCabe not seen it and made an impulsive on the spot decision to offer me a job. From that my entire adult and creative life has unfolded. Something for which I shall always be entirely, endlessly, grateful. 

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Andrea Torrei | Rome, Italy

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Hello, Andrea tell us something about yourself and how you got into photography?
My passion for photography started in my childhood. I remember all the magazines laying around in our house. They were full of photographs - long reportages about wars, political and social fights and travel photographs, countries which I dreamt about to visit once I would be a grown-up. 

I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Rome, Italy. It wasn’t an easy time. „La dolce vita“ was gone. Kidnapping and murders occurred often along with political turmoils while the Catholic church entered our private lives. During that time I travelled a lot around Italy and was able to observe workers on strike and women who fought for their rights. All these memories shaped me very much as a person. Anyway, I can say photography shaped my path, my choices of studies and work. I have graduated in Political Science and worked in the social field for many years.

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Have you ever dreamed about to become a photographer? 
Well, I have never dreamed about being a photographer. It was more a coincidence. There was a time I didn’t have a job, there was the economic crises and the world turned upside down. This was the start for me to grab a second hand camera and start shooting. I took the camera with me all day long, even in the supermarket. One came to another -  books, visiting exhibitions and workshops made my passion for photography grow.

When you started with photography, you tried different genres. Finally, street and reportage photography are your favorite type of expression. Can you explain us why?
Yes, I started trying different genres and I am very happy I did.  For example landscape and macro photography helped me a lot to understand light, colors and details. But the results of my work never convinced me to get more into details. Street and documentary photography were the unavoidable conclusion. 

But I have to say, that I don’t express myself through this genres. I feel very comfortable walking the streets and connect with people and strangers. I enjoy to capture their stories with my camera. This is a journey and a search of who I am. With time I started to understand that it doesn’t matter to come back with a good picture. It’s more about the good experiences that go along with them.

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You submitted a series you recently shot in Armenia, a country you always wanted to travel. Can you explain us why?
Since I’ve graduated I wanted to travel to Armenia. Finally last summer I could fulfil my wish.

Tell us something about the life of the people from Armenia?
They say, that the Armenian hospitality is legendary. I can absolutely confirm this statement. I seldom experienced in my life such a warm welcome. This country has managed to save its own tradition and culture after several years under the Soviet rule.

It is not an easy life, but I have met so many women, strong workers, who are very optimistic by looking confident into the future. There is one example. One day, I got lost in the suburbs of Yerevan. It was a very hot day - the streets were deserted. All of a sudden a women took my arm brought me to her house. She called her neighbours, other ladies and we ended up eating fruits and drinking iced juice. As a present they gave me a fan, which I keep with love. This is Armenia and his people.

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How important is travelling for you? Is there a place in the world you would like to photograph? Traveling is a part of me and a kind of nourishment… I am very curious and strongly believe that we don’t need to go far away to exotic places to make good photographs. Usually, I like to go back to places I already know and experience in a new way. I am sure I will go back to Ethiopia and Asia, where I have worked.

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Has photography changed your life?
Yes, a lot. It changed my perspective of life and awareness of it. And it is an incredible adventure and discovery of myself as well.

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
From Italy, I would name Letizia Battaglia and her many reportages about “Mafia”. Tina Modotti, for her adventurous private life. Nan Goldin is in my heart. 

There are so many works of female photographers I love and follow.The list would be too long to name them all. I very much enjoy seing a lot of young female photographers committed and producing great works. And it is very funny to hear, and not too rarely, that there are no femalephotographers, isn’t is?

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Micky Modo | London

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When did you first become interested in photography?
As a teenager. I was a bit of a rebel trying very hard to express myself and eventually through photography I found myself.
I was very much into alternative music which provided me with a lot of inspiration. Art was also a big influence: Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt, Modigliani, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Tamara de Lempicka, Francis Bacon to name a few..and of course other photographers like Paolo
Roversi, Sarah Moon, Richard Avedon, Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Henry Cartier- Bresson, ... and films .. Fellini, Orson Welles, Antonioni, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Tim Burton.

I discovered your work via Instagram. Your women portrait series is terrific and the pictures are very strong! How did the idea come up to start a project about Women?
I was working in Milan and just met with two talented ladies Claudia Nesi and Daniela d’Ortenzi, style and make up @ Pervinka. They had an interesting background working with fashion designer Romeo Gigli and we immediately clicked. We decided to create a series of portraits of women that went beyond fashion. Strong women, interesting and talented women with a definite style.

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Some of the images look like Frida Kahlo, Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn. Is there a connection?
We wanted to take inspiration from the past, from Art, History and Culture but we wanted to recreate a modern version of these characters: Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Elisabeth I, Tamara de Lempicka and the Marchesa Casati all have a definite style and they are strong, independent and talented women.

Do you have a certain workflow when you start a project like this?
Well, I normally do but this project started as a personal project and then took a life of its own. First, the portrait of Tina Modotti won the Women in Photography International (WIPI) Award and got published in the 25th Anniversary Book in the US. Then as a series, they won the IPA (International Photography Award) in the Fashion category. The project also got published in Stile In and Vogue.it

I then decided to take it further and create art pieces for each individual portrait in collaboration with Italian graphic designer Spire. The art project was very well received and took us to various exhibitions in Italy and in London. The art pieces are now on sale online at Saatchi Art, Fine Art America, Rise Art and LumiArts.

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In 2008 you won a collaboration with D della Repubblica in Milan and worked with fashion designer Romeo Gigli. Had this collaboration have an influence in your photography?
Absolutely. D della Repubblica gave me the opportunity of getting published and make myself known. Romeo Gigli is such a great talent, a true artist. He and his team believed in me and he gave me the freedom to interpret his new collection.

How important is it to hear your inner voice as a photographer?
Very important. I always try to listen to it and follow my instinct.

You work as a full-time photographer. What advice would you give young female photographers who are starting to become a photographer?
To be flexible and diversify within the industry; never stop shooting personal projects; network!

Are you already planning other photographic projects?
Yes, coming soon..

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
Sarah Moon, Tina Modotti, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, Cindy Sherman, .. 

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Corinne Wargnier | Paris

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Hello, Corinne tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
I’m a self-taught street photographer based in Paris. I’m also a novelist. My first encounter with photography dates back to my childhood. My father had a Leidolf Lordomat 35mm camera that he took everywhere. It was mainly used to photograph the family or holiday landscapes. The camera was omnipresent. It was, in fact, this “object” that initially fascinated me. The way the film was inserted into the camera for example and development of the film. This was all so mysterious to me! Then I gradually became interested in photographers. A documentary on television about the photographer Gilles Caron, who died very young whilst in the field in Cambodia, was certainly very instrumental.

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You are a street photographer. What fascinates you so much capturing life in the streets?
Telling a story, I think. Trying to capture the emotion of and empathy for my subjects, while also composing the shot in a beautiful way. In fact, that’s what I think tends to be the meaning of a street photographer’s work.

Your work is mainly shot in Black & White. Ist there a reason for that?
One of the reasons I shoot in black and white is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the images. I always think in black and white as soon as I prepare to take a picture. Even if the scene I have before me is very colourful, I immediately imagine it in black and white, as if I was a photographer in the past. Another reason is that it helps to emphasise emotion, and gives added depth to the image. I also must confess that I have no talent as far as colour is concerned!

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How important is travelling for you?
For me travelling is initially to discover cultures other than my own, to meet new people in their own environments. Travelling to a new place allows me to observe different things. It’s a great way to broaden my horizons, and fresh sights are a great new source of inspiration: having my eyes open to an unfamiliar world is a fantastic way to get myself out of a creative rut. Shooting street photos in a new city is amazing and provides a wonderful photographic rush.

Paris is a fantastic and constant source of inspiration for street photography. It is difficult to get tired of this city. But it is also necessary to travel to diversify my work. I also get stimulated and awed by what is different and new.

You submitted a body of work you shot in Vietnam. Tell us a little bit about it.
I knew nothing about Vietnam. The little I knew about its culture I gathered from briefly perusing a few books before leaving. So it was difficult to know what to expect. It was a leap into the unknown. I wondered how the Vietnamese would react to me intruding when taking photographs, how I could express my presence just as much as my discretion. And I was very lucky. Each person I met gave me the opportunity to capture a moment of their life, and this trust caused strong emotions to well up in me. I can clearly say that the Vietnamese are a generous and endearing people. I hope that the body of work you see reflects this.

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Did you feel a special inspiration while shooting in Vietnam?
What I felt almost immediately is that Vietnam is a country full of photographic opportunities. I understood that my desire to photograph everyday life in cities and rural areas would lead to discovering and experiencing something beyond simple observation.

You work as a novelist. Do you think that writing has kind of an influence on your photography?Through reflecting on this subject I have often reached the conclusion that the two mediums, writing and photography, are in direct opposition. Photography is a representation of the truth, writing fiction is an invention, a fabrication. At the same time, writing and photography are intimately linked. I don’t write without visualizing the scenes that I describe, and I don’t photograph without aiming to tell a story. They both somehow combine, their influences work both ways.

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Is there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
I have always and I continue to visit many exhibitions. I believe that the first influence comes from there, even if it is subconscious. Seeing in detail and taking time to discover the work of other street or documentary photographers is very rewarding. You are immersed and impregnated with feelings from it, making you just want to go out onto the street and pursue your own photographic work.

But if I had to name just one photographer, it would be Henri Cartier-Bresson.

What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
Certainly, the freedom that I feel when I’m walking in the streets with my camera, without ever looking for anything specific but always observing, hoping that maybe a scene or a face will captivate me.

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A big thank you to Louise Jablonowska for the French-English translation.

Website: https://www.corinnewargnierphoto.com
Instagram : corinne_wargnier

Vanessa Colareta | Lima, Peru

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Vanessa Colareta is a still life photographer based in Lima, Peru. Her artistic education started with B.A. In Fine Arts in Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain and continued with M.A. Visual Arts and Multimedia, Photography in the same university.

In 2013 she was named Still Life Professional Photographer of the Year at the Sony World Photography Awards, London. Vanessa has participated in exhibitions and events related to the visual arts such as “ArtLima” Art Fair at The Army School of Lima (Peru, 2014), "Sony World Photography Awards 2013" as part of the Month of Art, at House of Culture in Bratislava, "Lima Photo" Art Fair at the Image Centre in Lima (Peru, 2013),"Sony World Photography Awards 2013" at Somerset House in London and "Cafe Dossier" at La Tabacalera in Madrid, among others. 

Hello Vanessa, thanks for submitting your work to Women in Photography. Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and how you got into photography?
I started studying painting at the Escuela Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes in Lima, Peru. During my second year, I realized that I wanted to get some experience abroad, and thus I applied to a scholarship. In 2005, I got accepted at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and therefore was able to continue my education in Spain. It was there that I began to take photographs.

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You are a still life photographer - what fascinates you about this genre?
When I was conducting preliminary research for my first project about female migration, 'Migrant', I was looking for different ways in which I could address this complex topic through photography that were not mere portraits. I was looking for something more poetic. Still Life came up as the perfect genre. Through food and flowers, it is possible to talk about society, economics, culture, politics, colonialism, and other relevant issues. 

Furthermore, during the research stage, I interviewed many women facing migration. Some of them lived in Spain undocumented. Keeping their anonymity was crucial if I wanted to obtain their testimonies. 

Finally, throughout history, Still Life has been considered a secondary genre, not as important as historic and sacred paintings. The connection between topics and gender is pretty obvious in these three cases: food and flowers (the house) related to the feminine sphere; war and religion (power), to men. 

You submitted your project „Exodus“. Can you tell us more about it? 
Exodus addresses female migration from Spain due to the recent economic crisis. 

When I first came to Spain in 2005, I realized that Spaniards felt overwhelmed by the waves of immigrants arriving from different countries. They seemed to have forgotten how thousands of Spanish citizens had travelled abroad during Franco's dictatorship and before. I started 'Migrant' series in 2011 having that in mind.

A couple of years afterwards, I started 'Exodus'. Ironically, the direction of the migration flow had changed because of the economic crisis: Spaniards started to travel abroad looking for better opportunities. 

Before both series, I interviewed all the participants in order to get some background information. I asked them about their experiences with migration in relation to family, work and society. Then, I started thinking about a picture that fits each story and selects the items that will appear in the composition. 

What were you looking for when you started that project? 

During my studies in Valencia, I met many foreign women who lived in Spain. Some of them were students like me, some others came to work in order to improve their life. Also, during my research for 'Migrant' I met women who left their own children and travelled abroad so that they could give them a better future. Listening to these stories of bravery, one could only feel admiration and the urge to share them, to give them a voice. 

Your photographs express a kind of poetic look - how did you cultivate your sense of composition?
My photographs are inspired by Still Life paintings of the 16th and 17th century. Thus, when I create each composition, I tried to keep certain chromatic and lighting. As a result, the pictures instil a deep classic vibe, even though elements which are traditionally associated with Still Life were combined with contemporary items such as plastic bags or cell phones. 

Lighting has an important role in creating the atmosphere I was pursuing to achieve. In the case of the 'Exodus' series, it was done in my studio in Madrid. There, I had big windows and when I first came in I considered for a second covering them in order to use the flash. Later, I realized how complicated it would be, so I made some tests with my camera and realized how beautiful was the light I had! If you see that place you could never imagine that pictures like mine were made there. I love using natural light for Still Life. In my opinion, it has the perfect warmth.

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Did you have a certain workflow?
The most important part of the series (and the most difficult) is to collect the testimonies. I really enjoyed this stage because it gave me the opportunity to meet interesting people and hear their stories. 

After that, I made some sketches in order to visualize the composition and to get the stage props and food needed. I cooked most of the dishes that I photographed, so the day after each photo shoot I usually invited friends to dinner.

What is your intention behind this presentation?
My intention was to represent these women's journeys, through a genre that is historically connected to the feminine sphere. 

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In 2013 you were named as Still Life Photographer of the Year for the Sony World Photography Award. What does this honour mean to you?
eing named 2013 Still Life Photographer of the Year was a unique experience. I was able to share 'Migrant' (which was the awarded project) with many people worldwide. Also, I had the opportunity to meet artists, art critics and editors, as well as to show my photos at Somerset House. That year,  William Egglestone received an award to recognize his trajectory. I was delighted to participate in an exhibition with him.

After the prize, interesting projects came up: an exhibition in Lima (at Alliance Française), a solo show in Belgium (at Nunc Contemporary), a publication for Exit (a photographic magazine from Spain), an invitation to participate in the online project Master Piece Edition in Germany, among others.

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What advice would you give young female photographers who are starting to become a photographer?

I think it is important to learn about the history of women in arts as well as to do research on female artists because there are tons of interesting ones excluded from books and exhibitions. Also, it is important to participate in photo contests in order to get visibility worldwide.

You’re from Peru. Can you tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Peru? Are there any female photographers you can recommend?

There are interesting places where you can see what's going on in photography, like The Mario Testino Museum (MATE) and Lima Photo Art Fair. Talking about Peruvian female photographers, I really like the work of Leslie Spak and María María Acha-Kutscher.

Thanks a lot Vanessa for the Interview!

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Natalie Christensen | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Natalie Christensen is a photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has won several regional awards and shown work in the U.S. and internationally. Unconventionally, Natalie launched her photography career on Instagram.  In addition to pursuing her interests in art and design, Natalie has worked as a psychotherapist for over 25 years and has been particularly influenced by the work of depth psychologist, Carl Jung. This influence is evidenced in her photographs, as shadows and archetypal images are favoured subjects.

Hello Natalie, when did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
I became interested in photography as a mode of expression about two years ago. I had relocated to the American Southwest after living my entire life in a very different part of the United States. I think that photography helped me process the experience of a new environment. I always thought of myself as a verbal person, expressing myself through words. Something about this new place nudged the visual side of me

As a former psychotherapist, what made you decide to dive finally into the career of a photographer?
I am still working in the helping profession, as a consultant, however, I am also a photographer and it takes up an equal amount of time. I am fortunate to be able to devote myself to this, and I have a very supportive partner who has encouraged me to follow this road wherever it leads.

Let’s talk about your project New Mexico Deconstructed. How did the idea come up for this project?
New Mexico Deconstructed wasn’t an idea until after a number of these photos were already taken. I was drawn to certain types of scenes here without an articulated reason as to why. As a therapist, I often look for patterns in people’s lives and explore the possibilities of the meaning of these patterns. I did the same with my own images. I noticed certain similarities in the images and realized that there was a series happening without a conscious plan. This was very early in my exploration of photography, and I didn't really understand the idea of projects and series. I was just taking photos! 

The pictures are very well composed, minimalistic and have kind of meditative mood. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Coco Chanel once said about accessories: “Always remove one thing before you leave the house. Less is more.” I think this applies not only to fashion but also to interiors, architecture, photography and other art forms.  When I am out shooting, I am very drawn to negative space; I think it is very restful for the brain to experience it.  I think I have a deep attraction for geometry as well, and so this combined with negative space and a tight composition conveys a meditative experience. The images are simple, but I hope that they also invite the viewer to contemplate something deeper.

You intentionally shoot in „unattractive environments“.  Do you have an idea why?
I am attracted to unattractive environments for several reasons. First, I think it is more challenging to shoot in a place that is unattractive on the surface. I am much more interested in a banal scene than a beautiful landscape. I have spent much of my professional life exploring the idea of the shadow side of the personality. The dark side that we ignore, deny, avoid. When I go behind a shopping center or a blighted out abandoned commercial space it feels very similar to me. What am I going to find there? What will be revealed? In those hidden places can be the gold, the thing that illuminates and says to us, ‘Hey, I have been here all along. Look at me, there is something to understand here.”

How important is it to hear your inner voice as a photographer?
Of course, the inner voice of the artist is what creates “authentic” work. The world of sharing and viewing art through social media can make this difficult – is this my authentic voice or am I being influenced by what I see others doing? I don’t know the answer to that question. I struggle with it.

You started your photography career on Instagram. Do you think Instagram gave you the opportunity to break through as an artist? 
Yes, Instagram has been the vehicle for me to launch my career as a photographer. As different people began to take notice and feature my work, I gained more confidence. It has lead to showing my work in galleries as well as gallery representation, which has been a major goal for me. The stage is very large and it’s impossible to overstate its influence on contemporary photography.

Do you think Instagram had an influence on the aesthetics of your work?
Yes, as I previously stated, Instagram is the place where very talented photographers are sharing their work regularly, and viewing it definitely has an influence on my own work. Minimalism is very popular and there is no shortage of inspiration to be found.

What is the most challenging for you about photography?
The most challenging thing for me at the moment is the technical side of photography – learning the camera settings as well as Lightroom and Photoshop. Since I have no formal education in photography I am learning it on my own and with help from other photographer friends.

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
Female photographers I admire include Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, Sinziana Velicescu, and Haley Eichenbaum.

Michelle Bastos | Brasília, Brazil

Hello Michelle, thanks a lot for submitting your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

I currently live and work in Brasília, where I was born. I am a Political Scientist and have a Bachelor of Arts (Drama). I believe that the double qualification had a lot of influence in my work, both form and conceptually. I mainly work with political themes (understanding as political especially the micro politics). The Drama comes to my images as performance and intensity.

As a background, I have a grandmother originally from Karajá´s native indigenous group. As many Brazilians, I came from a multi ethnic family, what means having European, African and Native Indigenous blood.

I am very interested in my background, what made me living in some Indigenous villages in order to understand more about their way of life. I am developing some photographic projects in those villages, which probably will not be seen in the art world because the images produced are on their own.

I got a specialization in Portrait and Visual Identity at Speos Paris Photographic Institute in 2011. Since there I started my own research about portraits, what became the main topic of my work. Currently, I research and work about what I call as “analogies of the portrait”. I am developing ways of portraying people without working with the traditional concept of a portrait. 

A few years ago, I won a partial scholarship at Istituto Europeo di Design of Madrid, where I concluded a Master Degree in Fine Art Photography.

My first experience in photography was between 2004 and 2007 when I wrote and published a book about the Brazilian actress Dulcina de Moraes and worked with her photographic archive, with photos from 1906 to 1996. The book was published by LGE Editors, having as title “Dulcina de Moraes- Memórias de um Teatro Brasileiro”.

At last but not least, I am Feminist! Considering how a woman lives in Brazil, that couldn´t be different.

You submitted your project about lines, mistakes and absences - shot in seven small villages in the middle of nothing in Brazil. Compared to your other work this one is very colourful and abstract. How did you come up with the idea?

I was portraying people on those villages when I realized that traditionally the locals paint their own homes, choosing 2 different colours and dividing the house façade horizontally. There is a kind of pattern, an own way to understanding what is the beauty.

Therefore, I considered that those walls, painted by the residents, keep a strong relation with their own skin. What their understanding as “me” was mixed with what their understanding as “home”. For me, the close of walls has a strong relation with portrait. Somehow, that is a portrait too.

Can you explain to us how people live in these villages? 

The year of 2017 is been an atypical for all Brazilians. Recently we had a Coup to the democratic State, what had negatives impacts for all Brazilians, especially the population socially vulnerable, mostly concentrated in rural areas (when they are not big unproductive landowners, what is common in Brazil), mostly black or Indigenous (related to Brazilian historical process of Slavery and Colonization).

In most villages, local people are missing everything: jobs, education access to health care and even hope. Somehow, I met people extremely positive about life and future. I learned a lot of them. Considering that I can´t do a lot about jobs, education and health care at least I can do something about hope. On my next trip, I will teach locals what I know about photography and social female protagonist.

You said that there is a tight relation between the walls of the houses and the skin of the local people… What do you mean by that?

I meant that I see that walls and skin tell the same story about their owners. Every mark, spot, wrinkle or disruption are related to an experience of life. Walls and skin are the same covers to the same subject.

It is so amazing to see that people want to express themselves, - how they want to be seen by colour painting their houses.

I think sometimes the less you have, the more creative you’ll get. Would you agree?

Most houses are built and painted with few resources. In cases where the owner can pay at least for the dye and the tape to mark a perfect line between colours, they get closer to the beautiful pattern. In cases where the owner has no financial way to pay for those materials, they improvise with donations of the rest of dye, clay or whitewash.

What is your intention with this project?

Initially, my intention with this project was to understand how life is in deep Brazil. 

Brazil has a population of 200.000.000 people, including different ethnic, social condition and strong regional differences.

I live in the capital, what makes me having a social experience - mostly the same. Because of that, I was wondering if I really know my country. That was the main reason to explore deep Brazil. I had met places that I never imagined before. Even for me, Brazil keeps been a big surprise in every small trip I do.

Tell us a bit about the photography scene in Brazil. Is there any work of female photographers you can recommend?

As many other countries, there are more male than female photographers and artists in galleries, biennales, art halls, prizes, grants and festivals.

This year the group “Yvy Mulheres da Images” was created by Brazilian women working in images - not only photographers, in order to get more space for the woman in the art world. The group wish to get gender equality in all fields of art/image.

Between the big list of Brazilian photographers who I admire I could say those names: Ana Lira, Elza Lima, Virgínia de Medeiros, Aleta Valente, Rosangela Renno, Marizilda Cruppe, Nair Benedicto, Cláudia Andujar, Maureen Bisilliat (Brazilian citizen), Berna Reale, Luisa Dörr, Musa Mattiuzzi (who is not exactly a photographer, but a performer who uses photography in her work) and from Brasília I recently know and admire the work of Julia Milward and Dalia Hofmann. 

Are you already planning other photographic projects?

I am always planning and doing something new in photography. My hyperactive personality keeps me working on more than one project at once.

You can find more about Michelles work by clicking here.

Ana Clara Tito | Rio de Janeiro

Hello Ana, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
Hi, Nicole, I'm an industrial design student and for the first two years of my undergrad, I had special photography classes. These classes were my first real contact with the field, granting me a way to express myself and talk about things other than just register family moments or travels. By the end of 2013, I decided to go on an exchange program to a university in Toronto, CA, where I spent a year focused on visual arts – especially photography, which I already knew would be an important part of my life and career.

You submitted work of your photo essay „Together“, which is about black and mixed race young women. What is this work about?
"Together" is about so many things! I and my work have always been connected with the themes of emotion, intimacy and stereotypes, in a sort of political way. My projects are usually about myself but in this project, I decided to make things different. I wanted to have other women with me, women that go through similar experiences and that many times are labelled the same way as I am. I wanted to talk about love and support between us, about our sensibilities, our bodies, our beauty.

More than half of the Brazilian population is black or mixed. We have the largest African diaspora in the world but it still doesn't mean that the aesthetics of this group are seen and represented on the traditional mass media. Even though that has been changing a bit lately, we, as culture, still follow many European centred beauty standards. The effects of that on the young black and mixed Brazilian woman can be really serious, leading us to a sad story of internalised hate, low self-esteem and depression.

Another issue we have to deal with is the myth of the strong black woman that can support and survive anything, adding to the general idea that women are too sensitive and need to learn to contain themselves. This can lead to deep and dangerous suppression of emotions.

So you can imagine what it means for us to have a space to celebrate our emotions, our beauty and aesthetics, a moment to celebrate the union, friendship, love. As a brazilian philosopher and feminist Sueli Carneiro says, we need to claim our right to be, as black women, fragile, vulnerable, worth of care since through history that has been taken away from us.

We live in 2017 and unfortunately, there is still a lot of racism in the world. I was surprised to read, that even in Brazil there is made a big difference between white and Black/ Mixed people. Can you help us to understand what’s the reason for this?
There is always a big difference being made between white people and the other ethnicities. Things have been complicated since European countries decided to go around colonising the world, separating people in "us" and "them", with the last group being taken as less worthy, less human and less developed.

In Brazil, the last country to end slavery, the black population became officially free only in 1888, less than 150 years ago. For the most part of our history, black lives and bodies have been violently exploited and excluded. The official end of slavery didn't mean preparation, inclusion or acceptance in the Brazilian white society. Instead, we had official government moves trying to whiten the population – to make it look more like Europe – like for example, the encouragement of migration from European countries and other places to Brazil. We had theories that propagated the idea that we, as a country, would only be civilised and developed once we were more white. Because of that, even after 1888, Brazilian black population kept being excluded, marginalised, criminalised, killed.

We can say that a lot changed for the better, but we are still far from equality in a country ruled by white rich – and many times untouchable – men with no intention of seriously talking about these deep-rooted inequalities. In a country like this, where race still dictates class and social position, it's harder to have strong black representation in the mass media, on the universities and governments, for example.

Anyway, we will fight and we will shine!

We all know, that there shouldn’t be made a difference about skin tones, gender, religion or sexual orientation of people. We are all one and the best would be to care for each other and live respectfully together. Do you think especially women have a worse standing in Brazilian society? Unfortunately, yes. If not even in countries considered rich, developed and stable – politically and economically – we see equality between men and women imagine here!

High numbers of domestic violence and femicide, deep conservatory views and politics on abortion, low representation in academic, political and business environments, ultra sexualization of the female body… These are things that we face here in Brazil and that show the urgency of change.

What do you think could help to change this?
Men need to stop thinking they can talk for us, decide for us, govern for us, create for us. We need to break into these environments dominated by white man. Women also urgently need to create space for ourselves, create unity and support each other because we are stronger together.

Let’s talk about your workflow. What were you looking for when you captured your images? Did you have a certain vision about the composition?
I had certain feelings that I wanted the photos to incorporate and some few compositions to try, but things developed very easily with the girls involved. We all knew each other, and I believe it created a comfortable space for the moments and consequently for the images to be developed.

There were also some art direction choices. I had very clear in my mind the colours I wanted and how the poses should feel intimate and delicate. I was looking for beauty, vulnerability but also strength, supportive and positive relationships.

What would be the best compliment you’ll get for „Together“?
That's a hard question for me… I think it would be someone saying that felt represented on my images, that felt deeply touched by them and what they mean.

Thanks a lot, Ana…
Thanks a lot, Nicole, for this conversation and for the space you've created for us women.

Website: aclaratito.com
Instagram: ac_tito

Leticia Valdes | Buenos Aires

Hello, Leticia, thanks for submitting your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and when did you first become interested in photography?
Hello, I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina and I have a degree in film studies. I first become interested in photography, when I was thirteen. In the beginning, I captured objects and tried to present them as realistic as I could. Little by little I developed my interest in more abstract dreamlike images.

I've always been very much interested in black and white photography and influenced by artists like Horacio Coppola, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Josef Sudek and Edward Weston. Years ago I took lessons at Rosa Revsin’s studio. She taught me about the concepts of the aesthetics of photography, as well as the history and fundamentals. Rodolfo Lozano and his “fotografía creativa” workshop polished my visual training. Both artists helped me to learn the fundamentals of photography. 

When you started with photography you experimented a lot with analogue cameras. Nowadays you prefer shooting digital? Do you think digital photography gives you more possibilities to express your art?
I don’t actually prefer one over the other. The digital format just allows me to check immediately the pictures and gives me the possibility to produce a certain set of images.

From time to time I work with analogue cameras and experiment with older modes of productions like cyanotype, wet collodion and pinhole photography...

Let ́s talk about your submitted project “MARCAS DE AGUA”. These images are very powerful. How did you come up with the idea?
Generally, I don’t go out and hunt for pictures -  I find them. They reveal to me like secrets. The choice of objects or places doesn’t depend on me. It’s rather the result of chances. “MARCAS DE AGUA” was created during a short trip to the coastal shore of Buenos Aires.

When you work on a project like “MARCAS DE AGUA” – do you have a special workflow?
I try to make my process intuitive. My creativity gets blocked when I am under time pressure or if I have too many requirements or restrictions. Everything develops - it may take years or just a few moments. The key is not to hurry and not to expect immediate results or magical solutions.

Besides your work as an independent photographer, you work as a curator. What are you looking for when you curate work of other artists?
I love working with artists. When I curate work of an artist I am not just looking for great artwork - I also try to imagine the reaction of the audience. I want to create an "experience", starting from designing the space and the people who visit the exhibit.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Buenos Aires. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?
Buenos Aires is a great place for artists. Many artists are looking for new genres and formats of expression. Every day new creative networks are starting in neighbourhoods, becoming research labs and ending up in fantastic different projects. People are working hand in hand to participate in exhibition biennales, forums and fairs. 

Sara Facio, Alicia D'Amico or Annemarie Heinrich are role models to young female artist. Currently, Adriana Lestido is an important Argentine photographer who captures pictures of the daily life revealing the characteristics of human relationships. Other great female artists in the Argentinian scene are Florencia Blanco, Estela Izuel and Helen Zout.

How do you see your photography evolving over the next years?
I currently can’t imagine a direction. But I know, that I will follow a path of experimentation, continuous self- improvement, constant exchanges with other artists, and communication with absolute freedom.

Marisa Culatto | London

Hello Marisa, thanks a lot for submitting your work. How did you get into photography?
I think I was interested in “producing images” from an early age.  I started taking pictures with a small compact camera I was given at the age of 11. Then, when I was 17, in my last year at school in Gran Canaria, I got my first reflex camera and attended a year long photography workshop organised by my senior school with an amazing local photographer – we even had a darkroom!  I did modern languages at college, but spent most of my spare time reading about art and experimenting with mixed media and alternative photographic/printing processes, sometimes even “borrowing” other people’s images from newspapers and magazines to work on them. Then I got a job as assistant to a fashion photographer who was very experimental.  I learnt a lot about technical matters in those years with him, but the most important lessons he taught me were that there are no fixed rules, and that hard work is the base of everything.

But it was really the encounter with the digital realm what consolidated my artistic practice, as it helped me think of the camera as just one more of the elements of my process.

You said, that you have an ambivalent relationship with the photographic medium. Can you explain why?
I’m always surprised – almost uncomfortable – when described as a photographer, which could seem strange as I work exclusively with a camera.  I think this is because my language – my imagery - and my work processes don’t fit comfortably within the classic territory of photography. Since the advent of the digital, there’s a lot of talk of what is or isn’t photography (let alone what is or isn’t art!).  I have heard opposite approaches: that only photojournalism is photography, or that anything lens based is photography.  I think both approaches talk about the same fact: that there has been an explosion within the medium. I’m not sure where I stand on the theory… I just want to do what I want to do.

Let's talk about your submitted project Flora. First of all congratulations for these unique compositions! How did you get the idea for Flora?
Then, first of all, thank you: I’m delighted that you like them.  I had been thinking about tackling the genre of the still life for quite some time.  I wanted to do my own take on it and eventually concluded that the way to do it was to photograph frozen compositions. I tested different approaches until deciding that these would have to be based on vegetation.  This decision came about after doing another project called Ophelia, in which I photographed clusters of seaweed floating in small puddles in the sand… So, in this case, refining the process took a while.

The photographs look very well composed. Every single flower seems perfectly arranged.     How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
I think the sense of composition is something that one just has, like being able to sing in tune, or being good with words. The rest is just working at it, and looking a lot of other people’s work - I’m sure it helps train the eye too. 

What is your intention behind this presentation?
The conceptual intention has to do with beauty, and the loss of it, and the futile attempt to hold on to it.  It’s my way of trying to come to terms and accept the inevitable process of getting old…  In the end, it also speaks about the act of photography itself: the freezing of the moment.

What do you find is the hardest challenge when taking pictures?  

My biggest challenge is producing what I want to produce with limited resources.  I am not very interested in technique or technology, and I don’t like having too much equipment, as I find all that too encumbering and distracting. So I have to find a way to do what I want to do with the resources available.  This is generally possible and, also, for me, limitations are helpful, in that they provide me with a framework and help me focus.

Is there a photographer which has influenced your thinking and photography? 
I’m never quite sure of who or what has influenced me the most.  I think I’m not always aware of what has an impact, as I feel that this sometimes happens at a subconscious level and in a cumulative manner.  I tend to resonate with very different visual artists, regardless of the medium they work on, so not just photographers.  Having said that, I remember a Keith Arnatt exhibition I saw in the early 90s, which included works from his Canned Sunsets and The Tears of Things series.  It had a massive impact on me.  It would take too long to explain how or why, but the fact is that I left the gallery finally certain that, if I ever allowed myself to be a practising artist, my medium would be photography based. 

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
At the moment I’m working simultaneously on two very different projects. One is a long-term, ongoing nature.  It’s called In Order to See, and deals with a more “photographic” behaviour in which I carry a camera with me to take pictures of the world, but obviously with a twist…  The other one is another “staged” body of work, like Flora, in that I put them together in the studio, but the idea behind it is completely different, and, formally, it happens in a dark background, rather than the very bright white of Flora…  It’s in its early stages, so I cannot say more about it yet.

Thanks a lot Marisa for the Interview!

Clara Vannucci | Florence, Italy

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Hi Clara tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Clara Vannucci, an Italian freelance photographer. I work on assignments in portraiture, sport, corporate, travel, editorial, for magazine and newspaper like The New York Times, L’Uomo Vogue, Stern, Touring Club National Geo. 

The work that represents me the most are my long term projects - all related to the Criminal Justice System:

  • Crime and Redemption, documenting Volterra’s theater in prison company since 2007
  • Rikers Island, documenting the NYC’s Jail Battered women section and one of a prisoner’s family
  • Bail Bond. Bondsmen, defendants & bounty hunters. About the Bail Bond System in the US

You once said that as a child you wanted to become a Rock Star! What changed your mind to stand behind a camera rather than in front of a crowd? 
I think I sadly realized that I'm not such an interesting subject. I'm more fascinated by others people stories, that I find a lot more interesting. 

What does photography mean to you?
Photography and my camera allow me to enter into "others" lives. Even if it's just for a short time - I can mix their life with mine. Through images, I find a way to communicate with everyone, in every country. I think reportage is the best way for me to represent the subjects I photograph. 

Let’s talk about your longtime project „Crime and Redemption“, a reportage about the theater group La Compagnia Della Fortezza in Volterra. How did the idea to that project come up?
It all started when I was very young. I started to document the Theatre in Prison in Tuscany for the association OSA Teatro.  It was my first assignment - it impressed me very much. I visited so many prisons, from Juvenile to Maximum Security, but the one that really impressed me the most was the Volterra One. It was so different from the others, completely on another level. Prisoners were actors, and the impact was incredibly strong. The Volterra prison theater is considered to be a highly motivational therapeutic method of working with violent incarcerated offenders. Prison theater is about redemption. They learn a profession, they become actors, not only prisoners. They go on tour all around Italy and perform to sold out crowds. At the end of the show, they are escorted to the local prison for overnight.

Once I moved to NYC, I showed the pictures to Donna, she was really shocked and she pushed me to keep going there to shoot this incredible story. Of course, I did it. It became my first important project. 

It is rather unusual for a woman to work on different prison projects. Is there a specific intention?
No there isn't. It's just something that really dragged me into and I want to discover more about it.

Was there something you have learned about life in prison and the prisoners?
Of course, there are many different things you can learn from them. One, in particular, is how to sort out different solutions in daily life - like how to build an oven and cook an amazing cake with just three gas tank in a cell. 

You did an internship at Magnum Photo in NYC and assisted the documentary photographer Donna Ferrato.  What experience was it for you to work for Magnum and what was the most important thing you have learned during your internship?
The internship at Magnum has been such an honor. I was so excited. I didn't know that much about photography, and Magnum was the only agency I knew. When I arrived in NYC I had lunch with Paul Fusco, the Magnum Photographer, and Associated. He wrote me a letter of recommendation. I was the happiest person on the planet. The internship was mostly about to archive photographs and dealing with the negatives of the masters of photography. During that time I have learned a lot about photography history. 

During that time Donna Ferrato became your mentor. How important was this for you? Would you suggest to young photographers finding a mentor? 
I never went to a photography school. Being Donna Ferrato’s Assistant, for over 2 years, meant a lot to me. She taught me everything, like how to approach to people I want to photograph, to tell their stories. She’s definitely my mentor and my inspiration. She forced me not being lazy and carry my camera every day. The camera is the tool that now allows me to enter into other people's lives, even if it's just a short time.

Donna has been the best experience I could ever have and of course, I would suggest to any young photographer finding a mentor. It’s the best way to learn.

What is your creative process when you work on a project?
Often people contact me and want to tell their story, but I also look for ideas while I am traveling. I start to read something about the place I'm going to visit, and then I start to find little stories to tell.  For example, my prison projects felt like a chain - they are connected in a kind of a way to each other.  I started my project in Opera Prison in Milan and after the exhibition about it, I started with the Bail Bond projects. The Bail Bond project was born, because I was talking with a person about the Rikers Island One. And so on..

You’re from Italy-  Is there an Italian female photographer you really admire?
Definitely Letizia Battaglia! Her work on the Mafia in Sicily, it is a real photojournalistic document. Over the years she documented the brutal internal war of the Mafia and the assault to society. She actually co-won the Eugene Smith Award with Donna Ferrato in the same year. They are both revolutionaries.

Thanks a lot Clara for the interview!

Julie Hrudova | Amsterdam

Hi Julie, thanks a lot for submitting your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi Nicole, thanks for highlighting my work. I am a self taught photographer, born in Prague and now based in Amsterdam. I work for several media and companies, and also as a photo editor at a TV station. My personal work is mainly candid / street photography.

When did you first become interested in photography? 
I was always interested in images. But it was digital technology that brought me into photography. I started shooting with a mobile phone. The immediate feedback on the screen was important to me - it helped to make the photos I wanted to take.

Lets talk about your submitted project Lonley Planet Tokyo. How did you came up with the idea?
I was in Tokyo for a bit more than a week and I didn't have much of a plan. I just walked around Tokyo and discovered parts of the city by looking for photogenic locations. It was on the second day when I was looking through my photos when I saw this returning theme of isolation. The following days I was mainly focussing on that.

Tokyo is an example for any other urban city of our time. It seems that life of todays society is changing a lot and we might become more and more robots of our daily life. What’s your opinion about it?
Every city has its own dynamic and life. Tokyo has indeed this robot-like atmosphere because it's such a high tech city. It's regulated by precision. For example, the train delays are measured in seconds instead of minutes. The pressure is high, also on people.

A friend of mine from Tokyo told me that Japanese people don't open up easily, even to friends. There is often a kind of distance and isolation and the city reflects this. I wished I've stayed longer to explore this more profoundly. 

Do you have an intention with your project Lonley Planet Tokyo? 
It's a starting point, an exercise to capture an issue of a society through street photography.

What would be the best feedback you could get about it?
The best feedback... good question. Probably when people feel something when they are looking at the photos.

You studied photography and work as a full time photographer. What advice would you give to to someone who wants to start a career in photography?
To find and follow your fascination.

Was there a mistake when you started your career as a photographer? And if so, would you like to share it with our readers? 
Something I learnt is to keep focusing on your strength. And at a certain point refuse assignments that don't fit to you as a photographer or person.

Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
I remember being very inspired by the book Paris, mon amour with photos from French photographers like Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau. The book triggered my interest into street photography. I also like Vivian Maier, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, Matt Stuart and many more. 

You currently live and work in Amsterdam. Is there any work of a female photographers in Holland you admire?
There is a very active photography scene here! I like a lot the work of Isolde WoudstraSanja MarusicAnoek Steketee and Rineke Dijkstra. 

What are your long time goals and wishes as a photographer?
I'd like to travel more for work and make more long term projects.

Toktam Tayefeh | Mamaroneck, New York

Hello Toktam, thanks a lot for submitting your work to Women in Photography. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Thank you Nicole for giving me the opportunity. I am an artist since I can remember myself and academically since 1993.  I’ve recently moved to NY from California and it is a real wish came true kinda event. I love changes, learning more about new things and explore as much as I can. To me art and anything creative is the magnetic field and the major source of connection. 

You studied Fine Art and Interior Decorating. But photography is your everyday love. Can u explain to us what photography means to you? 
Since 2005 that I officially started shooting, photography brought me a sense of alertness specially because I love street photography. 

This habit of having my camera with me everyday made me feel ready to really see my surroundings and stay focused.  I have one subject in my mind, life!  It can be anything that makes me stop and click.  Painting is still my first passion but it needs longer period of time for me to get my images internally because all I create is from my imagination. Photography is almost instant and It’s providing me with new feelings and connections that usually help me develop my painting ideas furthermore.  so basically photography helped me with my paintings as well. 

Beside fashion and concert photography, street photography is your main subject. What fascinates you about shooting in the streets?
In streets things are happening in every single moment in a different levels of society at once and they are overlapping each other, it's a great symphony without any conductor. I just wanna grab a note and see if I can hear it well enough to make my own harmony off of it. 

People are fascinating, the way they pass each other or sit in their solitudes plus each city has it differently. Figures, emotions,light, lines, shapes and shadows in any cityscape are just endless sources . It's an infinite world of visual tenderness in a place like NYC, for example. To me it's like poetry. 

You live in Westchester County and you are 3-4 days a week in NYC. Do you think you see the city from a different view as a non resident and can you explain our readers about the special vibe in the city? 
Yes, I think I do see the difference. Westchester county has certain peacefulness and intimacy, it offers a sense of life in small beautiful villages close to harbors where I live.  I don't deal with the rush that is existing in NYC, so I enjoy watching people move around in a fast paced when I walk there.  I see the exhaustion, the naps in subway trains and people occupied by revisiting their thoughts and do their things. Different neighborhoods and different cultures in one city make it all so fun. I usually drive to NYC which is like my Cali lifestyle, then I am out of my car and I feel totally alive in a different way! City vibe is my stimuli.

Is there a favorite place in NYC to shoot street photography?
Hard to choose one particular place for me as a favorite location, the whole big apple is my favorite place. I love areas that are less touristy though, there you can capture the authentic truth about how things really are.

Are you more of a walk and watch or a wait and see kind of street photographer?
Definitely walk and watch/shoot constantly.  I literally hunt my moments down, and that gives me so much energy to shoot more when I know I got it.  I move to adjust myself to what I am witnessing,  sometimes I wait a sec for the composition to feel right but everything is how it was in that moment. Hours of walking and shooting even if I stop to drink a cup of coffee, I am still shooting.  My adrenaline rush is when I know I got a few shots right that I will have fun editing them at home.

The work you submitted are moments and sequences of the nightlife in NY. What fascinates you taking pictures at night? 
The whole night is magical in NY city.  People are more relaxed and they are ready to have fun, you hear happy screams and laughters, so many hugs and greetings. People hand in hand walking, hundreds of selfies happen and you witness it all. Then you see unfortunate people sitting in corners and this opposite side of life strikes you to feel so many things while experiencing the reality of lives of some people. I am into all the things that can move me. It’s how I connect with the world as a person when I see lives of hundreds in front of me through my camera. 

Nightlife in NY also has so many varieties and that gives me the chance to move to different areas and explore different kind of crowds. 

Most of your street work is in Black & White - Why did you choose to photograph in black & white?
Colors are beautiful and I sometimes use them for some shots but I believe in the power of black and white and also the intensity of it gives me so much space to fuse in my own feelings. It's blunt and it's so raw.  Less distractions in black and white and there is more direct contact with the subject. 

What is your everyday camera and do you think camera equipment matters?
First is the knowledgeable photographer, how that person behind a camera reacts and interacts in life would effect the shot, then a camera can help with translating a moment to a real photo. The quality of the photos a photographer needs to have will determine which camera would be a good match.  What a little camera with less options can do is to freeze the moment without disturbing anything and lately they are reliable and have good qualities. For street photography, I have a Ricoh gr iii and my iphone. 

For portraits, concerts and fashion where I need more details in my photos I use my Canon 5D Mark III.  I think if you know what you want there are options to choose from but the most important thing is to have a sense of visual language. It is a direct relationship which starts with the mind, talent and intuition of the person using the device, and a proper device is helping the photographer gets the job done. 

Is there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
I love all masters in photography in general, all of them. There are so many I admire like Bill Brandt for distorted nudes he created, Micheal Klein, Garry Winogrand, Robert Frank and so many more for their contribution to photography as fine art.  I am inspired by photographers of our time as well,  magnum photographers are my favorites for example.    

What was the best photo you never took?
Great question!  Photo of my son when he came to this world. 


Michelle Groskopf | Los Angeles

Hello Michelle, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you get involved into street photography?
I grew up in Toronto Canada but moved to NYC to go to College. I spent most of my youth studying and working in Film and Television production, including teaching in a graduate department. As I got older NY changed and I changed. After 15 years I made the difficult decision to jump ship and move to LA. That’s when I shifted from moving images to still. Best decision I’ve ever made. LA is my muse. When I’m not photographing stories for magazines I’m in the street shooting. I always have to be shooting. It’s my outlet and main form of communicating with the world. I'm also a member of the Full Frontal Collective.

What drives you to pick up that camera day in and day out and hit the streets? 
I love the thrill of street photography. That’s a big part of it. I love the connection it affords me to my surroundings. The way it forces me to be in the present. Photography has been a great gift to me. It’s helped me slow my life down and to get to know myself more clearly after the chaos of my life in NY. It’s allowed me the chance to indulge in how I see the world. Not just to drown in the imagery and ideas of others. 

Your work is very direct & raw and you always use flash. How do you deal with confrontation while shooting on the street or taking close up pictures? 
There is something so beautiful to be found in the details of the street. It’s the details that come to make up the larger picture for me. I’m building a world through my photos as a collective body of work. To get details with flash can be demanding and frightening but always rewarding. I like engaging with the public. I like the conversations that happen between me and folks on those good days. I’m very aware of the space I take up and the energy I put out. When my energy is good and positive I make amazing, if only short lived, connections with strangers. We effect each other. I like to think of myself as a positive disruptor! Shaking things up. When it goes poorly, I get spooked and often have to head home. When I get yelled at or threatened I tend to get very quiet and make myself very small. I don’t fight back. I get it. But it haunts me for the rest of the day. 

Can you describe what you’re looking for in your composition? 
I’m a perfectionist when it comes to composition. Everything in the frame is there cause I want it to be. I’m directing your attention to something specific. Look at this face, look at this gesture, these colors. I guess that makes me a control freak! More likely it comes from my film training. Great filmmaking is about making decisions. Knowing exactly what you want to say. Being focused. 

What's your favorite focal lengths and can you explain us why? 
50mm for street portraits, 35mm for story. Over the past couple of years I’ve found myself moving away from story. I’ve rebelled against it. I don’t think you have to tell a traditional story in street photography. It’s so limiting. I tend to use the street as my art studio instead. But that’s just for my personal work. I love telling stories for magazines. Whereas I completely reject context for my personal work, context is everything when you are trying to transport people to an event or a space. 

You live in LA. Is there a favorite place where you like shooting? 
LA is one big muse for me. I love every inch of it and its extremely photogenic. There are all kinds of people, and a multitude of scenery and landscapes. I could go on about the light but I tend to obliterate it with my flash so...I love to shoot all over and take a lot of pleasure in exploring places I haven’t seen or shot before. I got my driver’s license for the first time when I got here so driving is a real pleasure for me. That’s a big part of the process for me. Driving to new locations. 

Do you think taking part at Photography Awards has an influence to the career of a photographer? 
I personally don’t bother submitting to awards. I hate lists. They’re silly. I also find that my work isn’t easily categorized. I don’t think of myself as a traditional street photographer. More of an artist who makes use of the street. I think traditionalists have a hard time accepting what I’m doing so street photography competitions tend to ignore the work I’m doing. Which is awesome because it affords me great personal freedom. I don’t care if I’m liked, I want the freedom to explore my ideas without interference or judgement. I wish that for everyone. Caring too much about fitting in changes your work. It’s a curse. 

What tips or advice would you give a photographer who is starting with street photography? Don’t look behind you or in front of you at what other photographers are doing. Look in. 

Are there any female photographers who inspire you? 
There are so many amazing women out there. I could spend a lifetime answering this question. We all deserve each other’s respect and admiration just for being out there and doing it. I have so much respect for women like Tammy Mercure, Casey Meshbesher, Toby Kauffman and her team at Refinery29 and any of the other women out there who celebrate female identifying photographers through curation and information. We should all be helping each other because its only through a strong sense of community and sisterhood that we’ll all succeed. There is so much power in that. 

If you had the chance to go on a photowalk with a famous street photographer. Who would it be? 
Mary Ellen Mark or Diane Arbus. What a wild day that would be. 

You can find more about Michelle's work here:
Website: www.mgroskopf.com
Tumblr: www.dailystreet.tumblr.com
Instragram: www.instagram.com/dailystreet

 

Aneta Vašatová | Czech Republic

cyprus_1.jpg

Hello Aneta, thanks a lot for submitting your work to Women in Photography. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
Hello, I am a photographer based in the Czech Republic. I graduated from Tomas Baťa University in Zlín ( The Czech Republic) in Advertising Photography. We learned how to use technology and cameras in a creative way, as well the theory of art and photography. In our faculty were lots of fashion, graphic and industrial designers - I collaborated with them on many projects. I guess that was the beginning of my experiments with mixing medias.

You submitted photos of your amazing project Recto Verso - „Imprinted“. There you print landscape on fabric and implement them to the real landscape.  How did you came up with this idea?
I was always interested in social and environmental engaged art. I believe that art and photography have power to highlight problems in an aesthetic way. I wanted to express my ideas about the relation between man and nature - it’s similarities and differences. So I came up with the idea of the Recto Verso project which means obverse and reverse sites of this relationship. It is divided into several phases and projects - where nature is involved in the process as well as technology. So „Imprinted“ is one part of this concept. I printed my personal landscape on fabrics and searched their characteristics. Then I installed them into different environments and explored the transformation of the context. Our identity is hidden and covered. Humans are partners of a nature not their enemies.

You combine photography with other artistic disciplines. Can you explain us something about your work process?
The process itself is more important than the final result. Speed and simplicity is the motto of digital cameras and mobile phones. Lots of theoreticians call photography almost dead. Photography has became a part of our everyday life - a part of consumption. These days we are surrounded by visual smog on social networks. For lots of people photography means only pressing the shutter. What disappears about photography is the process: long preparation, developing negative, enlarging etc.. Photographs lose their uniqueness and an emotional value. Pressing a shutter of digital camera is just the beginning of the process… Through duplicating prints, installations and other methods I am researching hidden potential of photography.

What is your goal with this project?
Through my project I want to highlight several environmental and social issues and approach them to people. I am very interested in public installations and exhibiting in public spaces because I believe that art can educate and enhance people. Not only small groups of art critics and artists - everyone who is willing to observe.


Your photos are very well composed. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
For my project "Imprinted" I took all photographs during hiking. I took my camera, a tripod, all my fabrics and went to nature - sometimes alone, sometimes with a model. When I found a right place I took time to find good angles, positions and light. When I did self- portraits I used the self-timer. I was repeating this processas as long I was satisfied with the composition. 

Sometimes I had to stay covered, sometimes barefoot or without a jacket in the snow. I felt cold, itching by little branches. This physical aspect was almost a meditative process and very important to me, because I feel attached with the place I am working in.

What would be the best compliment you can get from the viewers of your pictures?
The best compliment would be if someone will be inspired by my work and I encourage him to do something on his/her own. I think its the greatest reward to see that somebody finds energy to do something or at least deeply think about it‚ because of your work. 

What do you enjoy most about being a photographer/ artist?
For me photography is not only a profession, business or specific education. It’s a lifestyle. As a photographer you’re looking at more details, relations between objects, people and situations. You are more attentive! Even observing shadows on a leaf or on the wall can give me great joy.

Tell us a bit about the photography scene in Czech Republic. Is there any work of female photographers you can recommend?
Czech Republic is full of talented contemporary photographers, as well in a past (Sudek, Drtikol ect.).  Lots of them are working abroad. A great documentary photographer Markéta Luskačová  is workingin London, because we the Czech Republic is a quite small market. I also can highly recommend wonderful Bára Prášilová who is working into creative fashion photography, as well as Bet Orten. One of the best Czech young photographers is Tereza Vlčková with very feminine and unique vision.

You can find more about the Recto Verso Project on Aneta's website: www.rectoversoproject.com

Yona Elig | Geneva, Switzerland

Hi Yona, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how did you get into photography?

I got into photography long ago, when I was in my twenties (I am 63 now) and studying graphic design in London. I was lucky to share a house with some photography students from the same college. They taught me a lot and gave me a chance to discover the darkroom!

Unfortunately, because of certain personal events I stopped two years later and came back to photography about ten years ago when I stopped working.

You submitted pictures of your project ‘Cafe Culture, a Travellers Viewpoint’. What made you to start this project?

I love the intimacy of the cafes, their "decors".  That amazing light and of course all those anonymous actors who, each in their own way, occupy their space and tell a story, inspire me and thanks to the Leica I got the atmosphere I desired.

The fact of traveling helped me in discovering other cultures, baristas, interiors, colors and so much more... And walking in the streets made me thirsty and curious.

Did you have a particular procedure while you were shooting in cafés?

I usually shoot with the camera on the table trying to make myself as invisible as I can which is not always easy with a Leica as it is not auto focus... But I try at least not to have the eye contact, I am too shy.

Most of your work is post processed by using an iPad. I would describe it „Photography meets Painting“. How came the idea up to mix these two mediums und use this technique to edit your photos?

It started for different reasons. First of all, as a graphic designer I always liked mixing photography with another form of art even with typography. Secondly, I love technologies. I am very curious about new applications and objects that constantly give us a chance to discover and use new technology. I have to admit that I am very Apple driven... From the moment the iPad Pro came out with the pen, I knew, that I would find a way and application that would give me a chance to do what I wanted for a long time. And you described it so well it became "Photography meets Painting".

Would you say, that paintings have influenced your photography?

No, I wouldn't say that paintings have influenced me, it is rather my search for something different.  It is by using the tools that I came to realize that my photography had become almost like a painting...

You said you are photographing with Leica Cameras. Why did you choose Leica Cameras to express your vision? Do you think Gear matters?

Actually, I have Leica and Fujifilm now and before that I used to have a Canon for a long time. No, gear is not important. In my opinion, for good photographers, it's the vision that matters. My case is different. It started with a birthday present at my 60th. I used the Leica when I decided to concentrate on shots in cafes, in interiors and people... With the Leica I realized there was something different.  Taking time to focus means taking time to watch the scene. ...and the noise of Leicas is unique ;) - I am just an amateur photographer...

What do you enjoy most, when you are out in the streets taking pictures?

I enjoy most having an aim - searching cafes, looking at people, seeing cities with another point of view, discovering streets and sometimes I find pearls on my journey!

You are traveling a lot. Do you have a favorite place/ country where you like to take pictures?
Can you explain us why?

I am lucky to travel to three cities which are immensely photogenic - and these are Paris, Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Each bring their own magic. It is very difficult to explain. It is usually a mixture of visions and feelings that are indescribable except through a lens.

What and who inspires you?

What inspires me is creativity, people and places. Things that amaze and surprise me - that are breathtaking - just by existing.  This makes me feel extremely alive, also this world is suffering.

You can find more about Yona's work on her Website http://www.yonaelig.com

Juliette Mansour | Atlanta

Hello Juliette, tell us a little bit about you and how you got into photography?
Hi Nicole! When I was a kid I had a Kodak Instamatic camera that fascinated me. Sometimes I would go through the motions of taking snapshots with it even if the film had run out! Photographic art had been snoozing inside me for most of my life, though. My strengths were in writing and music to start and I focused on foreign languages in college and grad school and my plan was to teach abroad. I had to stay in Atlanta though for family reasons and ended up teaching here.

In 1998, my career took an abrupt left turn when I left teaching and was invited to fill in temporarily for a friend at an advertising company. What started out as a 3 month short-term gig ended up as a career in web design and marketing. That led to graphic work, of course, which stirred up the visual artist in me. I picked up an old Sony Mavica camera and someone told me I had potential.

I began taking classes and shooting all the time. I joined meetups, got into shows, festivals, sporadic online publications and eventually started a group of my own dedicated to street photography.

What fascinates you so much about street photography?
There’s what I love about the genre itself - the viewer who walks into a gallery and sees an exhibit of street photography - and there’s what I love as a photographer who shoots street. For now, I’ll focus on the former rather than the latter.

As the aficionado of the genre, I don’t feel like there’s any other kind of photography that can capture so many elements all at once and accomplish this with such grace. It’s a beautiful balancing act! You have first of all, the candid nature of a good street photo. Look at the classics like Henri Cartier-Bresson and you’ll see how he manages what he coined, " the decisive moment" - a sort of marker that allows the photographer to freeze emotion, history, and composition all at once. You look at the scene of a great photograph and there’s a story in it that is so unique - either because of its historical significance or because of the location it was shot and what it means to the viewer, etc.

Then you have the emotion that’s behind that shot and that emotion can both speak to that protagonist in the scene and evoke an emotion in the viewer as well. And tying all that together is compositional elements and style of the photo (e.g. black and white or color, etc.), and the photographer’s shooting style.

All elements bring the photograph into balance and give it drama and mystery all from one candid moment . Documentary photography can accomplish this same feat but street photography is not war-torn or newsworthy necessarily. Street photography is just the unrestrained, artistic exhibition of how people are living daily life and to me, being able to capture this eloquently makes it fascinating.

You submitted your project "Reflections". How did the idea came up to this project?
One cold day in January I was out shooting with my street photography group (and cold in Atlanta is probably like springtime to some northerners)! I usually shoot both digital and film but that day I was just using a medium format Yashica TLR camera. There weren’t that many people out and it seemed like it was time to turn around and go home.

Out of nowhere, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a store window. I chuckled to myself because I rarely saw myself with so much winter garb on - a big hat, thick gloves, heavy coat and scarf, etc. I looked so funny to myself, so in an unintended Vivian Maier sort of self portrait, I took a photo of myself. Then I tried to walk up and down the street looking for others inside the buildings rather than outside. On that day, I think I took about 10 shots of people’s reflections.

When I developed the roll later, what I saw was an interesting blend of black and white shadows, highlights and images that often crossed each other or overlapped in interesting ways. The way this enhanced the story was interesting to me. That was in 2010 and I’ve been building on these images ever since.

Many street photographers are looking for reflection in their images. Can you describe what you’re looking for in your composition?
Right, I did notice in the last few years that a lot of others are shooting reflections as well. When I compose, I’m waiting for a moment in which all elements converge in a way that adds a another layer or special element to the story. For example, I posted some 35mm images recently and added them to my reflections portfolio online. The scene was just a young guy making corn dogs behind a window at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. This would seem like a pretty boring event until you stood there and noticed how many others were watching as well and how their reflections interacted with his movements. There is one image in the series of three in which a bystander’s mouth aligned perfectly with the top of the corn dog from the other side of the glass! That was enough for me to create an interesting moment. In other singular images, sometimes what inspires me is just a mood or the lighting that conveys something interesting to me.

What do you find is the hardest challenge when taking pictures?
Lighting, timing and composition are the most important elements to me and sometimes trying to wait for that magic moment when all three cooperate is not easy.

How important is traveling for you as a photographer?
Atlanta historically has not lent itself easily to classic street photography. This is rapidly changing but people here still love their cars and finding candid street scenes can be challenging, so often my group and I have to use events as the backdrop for candid street scenes. Travelling allows me to get outside that restriction and experience an abundance of active street life without having to hunt for it. For example, you could stand on a street corner in New York or Chicago, never really go beyond one block and get dozens of decent shots in a half an hour! In Atlanta, you struggle a bit to find that. Also, travelling to places where you can find amazing beauty AND interesting street scenes is a bonus - and then I’m in heaven!!

International travel is especially interesting to me because of my origins. I’m first generation American and have been to both my parents’ countries but have spent most of my childhood travelling to Colombia, South America. Recently, my work from there was shown in a local exhibit during Atlanta Celebrates Photography .

You founded the Atlanta Street Photography Group. Tell us a little bit about it.
In 2008, I ran across the story of Vivian Maier on John Maloof’s website, which at the time was beginning to be known in the photography community. There were several photographers on Flickr from all over the world who were enamored with her work and decided to hold a global Vivian Maier day, inviting us to gather other photographers in our city and go out and shoot Vivian Maier style. I volunteered to do it and got a small number of people together and we posted our shots on Flickr. I loved it so much that I decided to start this group as a general street photography group. We moved from Flickr to Facebook around 2011 and now we’re a small, private group dedicated to classic street photography. We learn so much from each other, we share challenges and successes and we get together on a very laid back basis to shoot when we can.

If you had the chance to go on a photowalk with a famous street photographer. Who would it be and why?
Believe it or not, it wouldn’t be Vivian or Henri. I think their work is pure genius but I’d prefer to hang out with Joel Meyerowitz because he is an expert who has managed to keep true to this genre in the present day, he embraces the use of color (which I always have) AND he is not an egomaniac! He is passionate about this work and presents it in a way that is fluid, makes sense. He feels like a soul brother! I know I would learn a great deal from him. 

You can find more about the work of Juliette on her website: http://www.juliettemansour.com

Clarissa Bonet | Chicago

Hello Clarissa, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and when was the first time you became aware of photography?
Currently I live and work in Chicago and have been in the city since 2009. Prior to moving to Chicago for graduate school, I lived in Florida where I grew up. The first time I became aware of photography as a form of expression and art was when I was about 15 in my first photography class. Prior to that, I took so many photographs of my friends and family with those cheap disposable cameras from the drug store. It wasn’t until that first photography class, I became aware of the breadth of the medium, beyond vernacular photography.

Let’s talk about your City Space project. How did the idea come up for this project?
The project City Space stemmed from the shift in my environment from the tropical landscape of Florida to the urban space in 2009. If I hadn’t moved to Chicago, I don’t know that I would have ever made that work. I was never particularly interested in the urban space prior to my move; what sparked me had a lot to do with lack of exposure to the urban space in a large way. I was taken aback when I found myself in this strange new environment. I started making photographs to understand this place and my role within it.

Can you describe the process when you started with the City Space project?
When I first moved to Chicago I felt invisible. I had never lived among so many people and it was overwhelming—and a little terrifying. I distinctly remember thinking I could disappear and no one would ever notice…well no one but my husband. I thought about the hundreds of people I pass every day who live on my street, or the people on the train. A constant revolving door of strangers, whom I would see once and then possibly never again. So these ideas were foremost as I started making images for the project. Many of those early images are not in the project now, but the thread of relentless anonymity is still very much a part of it. I never fully show anyone’s face; everyone is portrayed as an anonymous stranger.

The images look like candid shots - but they are composed with people you hired. Why?
There is something lost in translation between a photograph of an event and what that even felt like in the moment. I am trying to image the latter. With my project City Space I am not trying to document the city but rather show the viewer how I perceive the urban space. I found I can best achieve that by staging the image and utilizing the tools of photography—like camera angle, depth of field, light and shadow—to reveal how I understand, experience, and see the urban space.

You studied Photography at Columbia College in Chicago and are represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. What advice would you give young photographers who want to be represented by a gallery?
Do your research and know what galleries your work would fit into. Don’t just accept the first offer of gallery representation if it’s not a perfect fit. I had my eye set on the Catherine Edelman Gallery as a student because of the type of work she showed. I felt as though I could fit in as one of her artists. A few years later I had an opportunity to show Catherine Edelman my work when I was in my last year of grad school, and from there she invited me to show her more work as it developed. I made sure I took her up on this opportunity and did just that, meeting with her every 6 to 9 months over the course of about 2 years. It’s also important to understand that gallery representation doesn’t happen overnight, and you have to be patient; it’s a process. Once you get your foot in the door be patient and follow up, but don’t be aggressive. Gallerists are very busy.

What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career as a photographer?
Not following up with people. Right out of grad school my work got a lot of attention and I didn’t understand what people meant when they said to keep them posted on what I was doing. I thought putting them on my email list or just updating them right then with what I was currently doing was what they meant. After my experience with Catherine Edelman I realized what they were saying. Now I try to stay better connected with people, and I reach out directly to curators and institutions.

What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
Seeing the images come to fruition. My images exist first as ideas in my head, then as really terrible sketches in my sketchbook and/or as iPhone sketches. The whole process is time consuming and stressful because there are a lot of moving components, but during the shoot that all seems to melt away and I am focused on shooting. Once I get the image scanned and start editing, then that’s one of my favorite parts.

What and who inspires you? Is there a photographer who has influenced your work?
There are many photographers and painters who have influenced my work. Ray Metzker is probably the most influential, but there are so many others. Michael Wolf, Daniel Shea, Harry Callahan, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Mona Breede, Hannah Starkey, just to name a few photographers. As for painters who have strongly influenced by work, I would have to say George Tooker, Edward Hopper, Vija Celmins, and Georgia O’Keefe’s city paintings.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
My project Stray Light debuted at the Catherine Edelman Gallery this past year, so it is relatively new. Stray Light is an ongoing photographic project aimed at imaging the nocturnal urban landscape, as we have all but lost the night for our progress. In its place we have formed a new cosmos, one of vanished surfaces and flecks of light. Carefully constructing each image from multiple photographs of night-lit buildings, I reform the urban landscape in my own vision—one that seeks to reconstruct the heavens in its absence above the cityscape.

In addition, I am working on a new project focusing on the structure and surface of the built environment that is not so much about its inhabitants, although they play a small role in it. I’m excited about the project and process, which is a little bit of a departure for me. But I am not ready to divulge too much about it yet as I’m still very much in the process of working things out.

Shana Rappel | Tel Aviv

Hello Shana thanks for your submission about the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv! Can you tell our readers a little bit about you ?  
From Paris to South of France to Miami, from Miami to Tel Aviv, I expressed my art everywhere. First in painting, then in street photography. I track the light everywhere and that moment of fusional love delivers creativity in me and gives me this personal look of people and cities.

My pictures are spontaneous, without post editing, and for a few seconds I have this pleasure and excitation to capture the moment to make it unforgettable. I often tell myself to be lucky to have been there without deciding it, at this place, with this unique light that allows me to give life to my Art. I want to show people situations that highlights an aspect or different aspects of who they are. The human experience is unique and entirely unpredictable. It’s a fantastic challenge to explore it through Street photography.

As an artist you went from painting to photography? How did this come ?
By reducing the home's square meters. I had a lot of fun to paint but the pleasure I feel in photography is even more intense and passionate. Why? Maybe because photography is more instantaneous than painting. The resultis immediate. Photography gives time to see things that the eyes do not have time to see.

What fascinates you on street photography ?
Bring back to consciousness a scene differently from what everyone sees in his own way, is create a different life to a stage, an object, an event, a person that anyone could see in an unconscious way, trivial, but my eye constantly revisits these street scenes with my own sensitivity and light is my mentor. I put on stage continually a scene even without my camera . I imagine it and I create it in my lens.

For me, photography is a spontaneous pleasure. I'm not a photographer in love with technique, rules. I love to shoot in a car behind the glass for example. The speed of images in my lens and my frenzy to capture these fleeting momentsare very intense.

I do not want pictures prepared in advance. I refuse to lock myself in the technique. I do not want to photograph poverty and pain. I photograph people in their deepest intimacy, in their thoughts, in their gestural expressions, in their daily life or in their special moments ... I like the street, during the day, the night ... I love people in their life and I love to freeze those special moments they offer mein a candid way... and to transmit what I felt at this exact time to others.

It is the emotion of a stealth and magic moment that I want esthetic also. My photos are expressed by the movement and are intimate, could be with an Iphone or a 24 Millions Megapixels camera…

You submitted a project you shot during the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv 2016. The pictures show the distinctive atmosphere duringthe parade.  Can you tell us a little bit more about it ?
I wanted to show that Tel Aviv is one of the cities in the world where people can post their difference in total freedom without undergoing the eyes of others. This allows them to express their exhuberance and madness that I wanted to capture in my photos. I have stolen beautiful and unique moments through their looks, their attitude, their poses and if my viewers can feel the essence of the Parade through my photos, it means that I reached my goal to transmit this distinctive atmosphere.

The Pride Parades are always very colorful and vibrant. Is there a reason why you choose to take the pictures in B&W?
B&W gives a different character and originality to the images. A different spirit, drama, globally, a very different atmosphere.

The subject in B&W is more valorized than in color, because in color, the eyes can be distracted by all the surroundings who are part of the scenery, but not focused in the subject. 

What are you looking for when you go out into the streets and shoot ?
Multiple encounters and lights, topics, situations, atmospheres which inspire me.

How do you choose places for street photography ? Are there any great spots in Tel Aviv for street photography ?
I do not choose any place. It is in my random walks from one neighborhood to another that I find my inspiration and I have not even operated all locations in Tel Aviv or in Israel in general.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Israel . Are there anywork of female photographers you can recommend ?
There are a lot of photographers in Israel, women and men so the photography scene takes a large place here. I don’t know personally Orna Naor but I like her work as well.

What are your next plans and projects?
My next project is my daughter’s wedding in November where, for the first time, I am going to experiment my photography skills with a drone but it ‘s too early to talk about it.

My next plans is to go to Antartic and Cuba.