Monday, June 23, 2014

Brave Escapes | An interview with Darla Teagarden

How old were you when you decided Photography was your passion and can you tell us how you found yourself a career as a photographer?
I started at 36. Before that, I was a painter and was doing well, but I became bored over the course of about 4 years doing that. I've tried a little bit of everything it seems, but photography has the strongest hold on me thus far. As they say "It came to me". I wanted a theatrical shoot with my young son for posterity's sake but few were doing that kind of thing not that long ago. After giving so many of my ideas and money away trying to accomplish that, I naturally thought I should give it a go. At the time, I had no idea how to use a camera or editing software and I suspect this education will last as long as i live.  

Your work is very unique and has a very ethereal dark and feminine undertone to it. Where do you find your inspiration for your work and are their central themes you like to visit and re-visit?
I don't know a lot of men. I do know a lot of amazing women who know amazing women, so It's only natural that I'm inspired by them. Plus being a woman, my narratives are on the fem side, and, internally at least, queer-centric. I guess my themes tend to be ones that speak to escapism or basic communication about personal wants and needs. I try to say, ''this is what I wish'' or ''this is what it's like''.

Do you predominantly shoot analogue or digital? And what is it you love most about it?
I haven't shot with an analog camera since the 90's. I shot first with a point and shoot digital camera because it was the best I could afford. Then, I bought 2 used digital single-lens reflex cameras. That's all I have. It's cheap and fast. I know people wince at that little bit of truth, but that's what's great about them. It gives you more room to move onto the next thing. It's less about wanking off about how big and expensive your equipment is. It gives you more time to concentrate on your story and to find your *voice* as a new photographer. However, it's not a piece of cake either. Like anything, even things considered easier, comes with a lot of failure and only some success.

A lot of your photography features women. What is it you like about photographing women more so than men?
Women are more interesting to me when telling a story because it's my camera and my story. Men are lovely and I don't mind shooting them, but It mostly comes down to relating. Self Portraits are the easiest for that reason.

Can you briefly explain the process you undertake from idea to finished photo?
Are there any photographers you admire and would love to some day work/collaborate with?

I usually sketch an idea first. Then I run around town looking for materials and turning them into whatever the story requires by hand. Then I shoot quickly, maybe 3-4 hours tops. Finally, a few days later I edit them, mostly concentrating on color, tone and texture since much of my work is in camera. As far as collaboration, my dream would to be shot as a subject for Joel-Peter Witkin, Maleonn, Roger Ballen, Ellen Rogers. Well, there are so many..

Is there any subject matter or person you would love to shoot but haven't yet had the opportunity to?

Marina Abramović. She's brave and interesting in ways most people aren't. I don't tend to idolize people, but I admire her choices and her medium. Subject matter? I do wish ,
but I constantly remind myself that having limits creates some at times, I had a bigger budget to create more elaborate sets, thing better, at least for me at this time.

One of the things i love most about your work is your ability to make portraiture abstract and surreal. Where do you draw your inspiration from and what keeps you passionate about the unique?
I perceive photography as the closest thing to literature for the artist in an intuitive sense. I tend to approach a ''scene'' like a short story or poem. This approach tends to be a bit more abstract than a direct representation. A written sentence is comprised of specific words which when read , can then be interpreted in many different ways and holds varied levels of relatability. I hope the same for my photos even when I'm being relatively specific. Ideally I want an image to stand on it's own.

Is there one piece of your work that you are most fond of or proud of? 
I'm proud of my series, ALTARS . It is based on a genre of photography I love but one I'd never tried, and, It was about a subject that has haunted me my entire life , for better and worse. Also, it was good to shoot my own body. Many others have taken my picture, especially in my 20's, but there was something cathartic about being in my 40's and being my own source of beauty.

There are a lot of people out there who fancy themselves photographers or are very much interested in going into this industry. Any wise words?
I don't really think my experience will be exactly like anybody else's, so I can't really give advice. I can say for me, it helped to just do it. Do it often and do it without a crippling fear of failing. Also, it helped to not expect anything, especially loads of money. If it's meant to come, it will, but the expectation in the beginning is ridiculous to me and possibly damaging. Ok maybe one direct bit of advice. Don't let the Internet convince you that you're a genius ( and it will try) because most likely you aren't and don't have to be. All that really matters is that you say something authentic. Do that, and you're already ahead.

What can we expect from Darla Teagarden in the future?
Regarding photography , I'll keep trying new things and meeting new people.. that tends to dictate what's next artistically. I might even stop altogether and raise mini ponies or something. For now I'm working on more self portraits , then I'll attempt to make a book when I think it's ready. Could be next year or 20 years from now. I'll be sure to let you know. I think it might be good.