Right: Rebecca Storm, Left: Maya Fhur
PHOTOGRAPHER MONIKA MOGI SPEAKS WITH MAYA FHUR AND REBECCA STORM ABOUT NEW FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHY.
Hey girls, I guess first off let’s talk about how you started taking photos. When did you start seeing it as a career more than a hobby? What was the first project / job that you think helped shape the artist you are today?
Maya: I started using a film camera when I was 17 and first moved to Montreal. I’m was a nice change from my little digi cam I’d shoot kids @ high school with. I taught myself how to shoot film by walking around Montreal and constantly being inspired. I started seeing it as a career more than a hobby when I couldn’t find myself taking jobs seriously: if it was a cafe or acting gig, I’d always have my camera with me and end up shooting instead of working. The first “serious” photo project I did was Garbage Girls for VICE. It was really just a diary of my friends in their filthy rooms but with a fashion-y twist. The amount of press I got from that made me realize how big of an impact my ideas could have on the internet/magazine world. I got really into doing more conceptual photo work after that.
Rebecca: I started taking photos when I’d go to summer camp, I guess about grade 5, on this crappy little Konica point and shoot. When I graduated highschool, my dad gave me his Canon AE-1. I was mainly interested in black and white photography then because of how much control and manipulation I could exercise in the dark room. I majored in drawing and painting, but I took photography as an elective and would always procrastinate finishing paintings by taking photos. That’s when I started my “filth” series, which were snapshots of my disgusting life as a student in Montreal—overflowing ashtrays, walls held together with duct tape, habits of poor hygiene—I’m still really drawn to disconcerting artifacts of human existence and I think it’s something I’ll always come back to. I don’t really see photography as a career, if I think about it like that it makes me feel like I’ve lost touch with it, but then again maybe I am thinking about the term “career” in the wrong way. I’d definitely like to take photos for the rest of my life.
What subjects interest you most? What kind of art do you like looking at?
M: For the most part, I just like shooting people that our comfortable in their skin. That’s the quality that shows most in a photo: the level of relaxation within the subject and how they work their clothes, sexuality and overall essence .
I like looking at all kinds of art ! Renissance paintings might be my favourite, artists like Matisse and Bordeaux. Also, photos from the 60s-90s are always cool. Walking around contemporary galleries and going to openings are always refreshing because you get the overall feeling your apart of something progressive & new.
R: I love photographing objects, or observing humans through their objects and habits. I also have such a soft spot for surrealism, I really like to capture moments that are weird or repulsive to me, and subsequently force myself (and the viewer) to reconcile their revulsion or discomfort into pleasure, so long as it’s done tastefully. That also feeds into my interest in synaesthesia, I love the idea of someone having a physical reaction to seeing or hearing something. If I see a dog sitting outside in the rain, it hurts my tailbone and in between my toes. That’s sort of the experience I like to communicate through photography, which can also be a pleasurable experience with rich texture and lush colours. Applying the aesthetics and concepts characteristic of fashion shoots to inanimate objects is also interesting to me, which is why I think I often treat parts of my human subjects as close up still life arrangements. I guess I’m contradicting myself a bit, because when I’m photographing objects I’m always trying to highlight the essence of a human, and when I photograph humans I see them more as sculptural and focus on parts of their whole.
I like how I can always see what you guys are upto because we live in an internet world that we can constantly post work on. How do you feel sharing your work? Do you look for feedback or is it more of a diary? (I use my insta/tumblr as a diary and a portfolio)
M: I love social media because we can all share work and feel like we’re up to date in each others lives, like even though your in Tokyo- I can still get an idea of what’s inspiring you or what you’re up to!
I use things like Tumblr and Insta 100% as a diary. It’s actually pretty selfish because I’m not looking for feed back, i’m using it merely to satisfy my aesthetic. I need to constantly be shooting and documenting and confirming the existence of the photo. It’s really satisfying (and addictive.) I love sharing my work on the vast Internet and knowing that people can appreciate it.
R: Sharing work on the Internet is amazing and terrifying and is cause for a lot of anxiety. I love that anybody can see anything I post, and even respond to it in seconds, but I also have qualms with how it’s quantity over quality. People don’t really linger too long on an image they find on the Internet because they’re often in these rapid channels of observation. I think that that sometimes encourages people to view these images in a superficial way. Obviously there are exceptions, but often contexts are flattened and there’s maybe less consideration for any conceptual aspects, the viewing experience is more dictated by the viewer than the artist, which in itself is interesting. I do love that the internet is a free and far reaching platform, and it’s my main platform right now, but I would love to do more exhibitions.
I am starting to feel bored of my camera and would like to invest in something more. Maya you recently switched to medium format.. what would you like to experiment with next? Are there any different mediums you would like to explore?
M: I’m really loving medium format right now because the square format allows me to really pay attention to detail. Normally everything in my vision is zoomed up and cropped and I’m noticing colours, textures and shapes all day. I love capturing that on the Hasselblad. I definitely want to start shooting more video though. Also, the low maintenance quality of point & shoot cameras really appeal to me but I’ve never tried a good one. The fact that you can just throw it in your bag instead of lugging around a heavy camera. Yashica dreaming.
R: I just got a Hasselblad and it’s a lot of fun to try and get used to. I just broke the straps on my favourite backpack since I’ve been lugging it around so much. I also use a Pentax Spotmatic with an external flash that is garbage and held together with glue and hair elastics, but it’s perfect and I refuse to give it up. I have a Yashica t4 and it leaves a lot to be desired, for me anyway, so I don’t mind the cumbersome quality of my Hasselblad or Pentax. It would be amazing to have a mini Hasselblad… does such a thing exist?
Can you give some advice/stories on photography and jobs? Any interesting shoots? Funny stories at shoots? How do you prepare for a shoot?
M: I usually prepare for a shoot by drinking a coffee and staring @ a wall beforehand. Anything relaxing. That’s probably my biggest advice for emerging photographers. Stay chill and don’t work with anyone that brings you down or adds intense energy to a shoot. There’s a lot of rowdy fashion people out there! I used to work with this one stylist that stressed me out so much i’d break things every time I was on a shoot with her. Bummer! Also, don’t be afraid to say NO.
I was on a pretty fun shoot last week shooting this band K.I.D. We went out to the suburbs and I took photos of the band in their slightly alcoholic, glam aunt’s trashy apartment. We had some very dirty martinis and talked about golf and boys. Instead of choosing the photos I took of the babe duo as their album cover, they chose a photo of the aunt basically passed out while smoking. Real life- Good shoot!
R: Shoots with minimal to no other people are the best. I like collaborating with and getting to know new people, especially when they are humble enough to laugh at themselves but also know how to take things seriously.