By SPECIWOMEN Photography MELISSA NELSON
Who are you?
I’m an artist currently based in New York originally from Massachusetts. I used to say my primary focus was photography, but I’d that is now slowly transitioning to include more mediums. My art as a whole, whatever medium I’m working in though, focuses on the interaction of light and color.
What made you pick up a camera for the first time?
A mandatory photography class my freshman year of high school. Before that I was indebted to studio art.
Why do you photograph?
To look at the world differently.
When someone views your work, what do you wish they feel?
Anything they’d like. Maybe vulnerability, intimacy?
What is it about human faces and bodies that draws your lens in?
I'd actually say that faces and bodies aren't what attracts me, but the shared relationship between myself and the subject.
What has been the most informative experience you’ve had as a photographer thus far?
Realizing that you don’t need to photograph everything. Being present is just as important.
Do you prefer to work digitally or with a film camera? How do the two differ to you?
I prefer working with film, but I also find that it doesn’t matter what tool you use. What's most important is your point of view. I purposefully shoot at night on film though because photographing with limited light on film is the challenge. By definition, photography is the recording of light. How far I can push that is what draws me in.
Where do you draw the most inspiration from?
Books, museums, great female artists.
You also work with film. Why do you think that the two media of photography and film communicate well? If at all.
I think I’m still figuring that out. I’ve really only experimented with Super 8, but I also never really have the urge to shoot digital film wise. Going from still to the moving image via Super 8 felt like a natural transition because each frame still felt like a photo. I see it more as capturing moving portraits rather than making a short film. Also Super 8 presented itself as another analog medium to test shooting on in limited light.
What are your thoughts on social media and on technology’s constant evolution?
Social media is a great way to share ideas, to raise awareness, to stay connected. But as an artist it is all at once a library of inspiration, as well as a clog of creativity. I’ve found that it’s all about balance.
Has you being a woman impacted your experience as a photographer at all? If so, in what ways?
It hasn’t impacted the work I make, but it drives my work ethic. It has made me stronger, more resilient, more independent. It’s made me push ten times harder. But I also don’t think I’d change that. Proving people wrong is one of the most rewarding feelings. I just finished reading “Ninth Street Women”, a book on five artists during the Abstract Expressionist Movement: Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and Grace Hartigan. Even though I finished it a month ago, those women are constantly on my mind. It’s funny though, right after, I picked up a book on a male art dealer during that same time, thinking it would go great chronologically, but I just can’t get hooked on it. I think that great art comes out of great challenges.