Bringing Mystery to the Subject
Photographer Q & A
You have a very strong and distinguishing aspect to your photography. What is it you look for behind the lens?
I'm always hoping that I will see or glimpse or connect with something that's not just the facade of the person. I'm looking to connect to something that is essential to all of us, and I think that is a quality of mystery.
You seem to have an unusual rapport with your portrait subjects. Tell us a bit about that.
I love to be around people and interview them and hear their stories. I'm always interested in what lies below the surface of people; when you get below the surface, there's often an archetype. I do feel intimate with the subjects I photograph, and I do, at some point, feel there's some kind of wonderful bond that's established.
In the book Intimacy: The Sensual Essence of Flowers, you explore the color, symmetry, color and texture of plants. What do you want the viewer to see?
I isolated flowers and plants against a dark background to help us focus on their essence. By looking at them from this perspective, we're able to absorb nature's visual language. My aim was to show the "inner workings" of flowers. I added an ancient proverb or short piece of poetry from writers like Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams to heighten this awareness.
What is the nature of your most recent book, Shells: Nature's Exquisite Creation?
In this book, I wanted to open a window into a kind of secret life of shells. Much like the flowers I've photographed, I feel that shells are imbued with a sense of mystery, as well as representing an amazing sense of architecture.
To get a glimpse of Joyce Tenneson's ethereal and evocative work and learn about her upcoming workshops, visit her web site at www.tenneson.com.
Joyce Tenneson's uses this Lowepro roller:
Pro Roller x300
Described as "haunting," "ethereal" and "mystical," Joyce Tenneson's images have been displayed in more than 150 exhibitions around the world and are part of numerous private and museum collections. Her portraits have appeared on the covers of publications such as Time, Life, Newsweek, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. She is the author of 15 books, including the latest, Shells: Nature's Exquisite Creation. In a poll conducted by American Photo Magazine, readers voted her among the ten most influential women in the history of photography.