Travel, shoot, do gardening, travel and shoot some more. Missy Prince gives us a piece of her mind when it comes to photography, being on the open road, pleasing your eye and many more.
We’ve featured some of Missy Prince‘s photographs last October and since then she had indeed covered some serious miles in her travels. It’s time to pick her brains and scrawl some important notes while you’re on it.
You may get this question in a lot on interviews but still we’d like to ask: how and when did you start shooting on film?
There really isn’t a specific starting point. It was a slow and sporadic evolution over a couple of decades which involved having then losing multiple cameras. My interest didn’t gain traction until a few years ago when I returned from a backpacking trip with some photos that excited me.
What makes analogue photography special for you? Is there anything specific about shooting on film that makes it particularly stand out?
My preference for film has more to do with the process than the end result. I enjoy the guesswork, the risk, the waiting. A lot happens psychologically in the space between taking a photo and seeing it. Your perception of the moment exists in a sort of gaseous form until it is solidified by the actual image. I like hanging out in that amorphous in-between state. I also like being in the darkroom.
The photos you took of your surroundings evoke a certain homey feel to them. What was going on in your head when you took those pictures?
I can’t really make a blanket statement about what what was in my mind besides “I hope this comes out.” Going into any more detail would require references to specific photos. As far as homeyness goes, I don’t know. I guess it has something to do with my feelings toward the subjects. Maybe it has something to do with my attention to light.
You mentioned in one interview that you’d like to just get on the road, travel and shoot photographs. Any developments on that? How do you think that attitude towards the open road applies to your work?
Yeah, I made some miles last summer. I went to the Mojave Desert, drove across the country from Portland to Memphis, and spent a couple of weeks in Mississippi. I want to create a sense of place in my photos and I feel I do that best while discovering new places. On the road, your relation to your surroundings is constantly resetting and the camera is sort of a mediator.
I have a slightly mystical regard for the whole thing, like there is something at work that can’t be pinned down. There is no formula. Taking a photo is always a crap shoot and the sense of possibility and uncertainty that comes with traveling somehow complements that. I often feel I’m groping blindly and relying on the exploratory rush to enliven the photos.
Do you have personal rules that you apply to your own work? Please share them with our readers.
No rules. I don’t like to put any constraints on myself, though I am always struggling against certain of my own tendencies because I don’t want to fall too easily into a comfort zone. For instance, I’ve been trying not to put things in the middle so much, but I haven’t been very successful. I don’t get too hung up on it, though. In the end I just do what feels good. No rule is 100% reliable.
What is your take on photography as an art?
I guess it’s art, though I consider it to be lower on the totem pole than music, writing, drawing, or painting. I think of photography more as collaboration with reality than pure creation. I wouldn’t argue that point aggressively or demand that anyone agree, but I have always felt that way about it. Obviously it takes skill and vision to produce compelling photos. It’s closer to art than it is to anything else.
Given the chance to collaborate with any artist or photographer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
I never really thought about collaborating with anyone. I suppose it would be a poet or some kind of writer. James Tate, maybe, or Raymond Carver. Poetry and photography are similarly constituted. They are like flashes of recognition. The world in piecemeal helpings.
When you’re not taking photos, what do you do?
Read, listen to music, play guitar, hang out with my dog, take care of my garden, take care of other people’s gardens.
Any tips for shutterbugs trying to find their style in photography?
Please your own eye. Don’t pander. Pay attention to why you are drawn to particular images by yourself and others.
Which artists inspire you in your work? Any artists that we should follow?
David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Andrei Tarkovsky, Larry Brown, Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Steinbeck, and Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion.”
Do you have any other works that you’d like to promote?
Besides photography? Not really.
Personal guilty pleasure?
I don’t believe in mixing guilt and pleasure. Either you like a thing or you don’t.
Last words for our readers?
Thanks for looking.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk with you!
All photos featured in this interview were sourced from Missy Prince and used with permission.