Friday, May 18, 2012

{in the picture} an interview with dawn hanna

I am so happy to bring you the next interview in our {In The Picture} series. Today you will meet Dawn Hanna--I fell in love with her work on flickr last year and it has provided endless inspiration to me on my self-portrait journey. I hope you will take a moment to read about how she got started taking selfies and take in her amazing images...here's Dawn....

1. Was there ever a time when you couldn't imagine taking self-portraits or have you always been comfortable in front of the camera? Do you remember when the self-portrait "bug" bit you?

About 4 years ago, I stumbled upon a blog that hosted a self-portrait challenge every month.  The photographers who participated in the theme challenges, posted their self-portraits to their own blogs and then linked them to the main blog so that people could comment on them.  I remember thinking "there ain't no way" but I was really interested in how the themes were interpreted by the different participants.  I must've stalked that blog for about 6 months before I decided to take the plunge and like most of us who have taken that leap, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown with the first posting.  Wonderfully, that community of artists were overwhelmingly supportive and over time, I began to think very differently about how I portrayed myself in self-portraits using myself as simply a vehicle for expressing the emotion or idea rather than the idea of "me" out there. Because of the support I garnered, I was able to push myself further into this realm.  After about a year, the original self-portrait challenge folded and one of the members, Jeremy Stockwell was gracious enough to move the group to flickr where it's been ever since.  There are several original members of that group that actively participate, and I hope that it will continue for years to come as our group membership has continued to grow over time.

self portrait challenge: last week: the 7 dwarfs: bashful
self portrait challenge: the five senses: final week

2. Looking at your collection of self-portrait work I notice that you embody a broad range of "moods"--some are light and whimsical while others are dark and serious--I love all the variety. How much planning goes in to your shots--the setting, your clothing, your hair, props, etc? Where does your inspiration come from?

Well, as human beings, we all have a variety of emotions that grab and tug at us from day to day.  It's interesting to me to round these feelings and moods out through my imagery. I chew on the theme that is presented and then use it to tie the threads of all the different things I am facing in my life at that particular moment in time.  Because I am very much a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of girl, I do not really plan ahead and when I finally do have an idea that I want to interpret, I shoot very spontaneously and usually very quickly.  The only thing that I really consider is the time of day since lighting and location is an integral part of the image, but other than that, I do not even change my clothes before I shoot and rarely if ever use props.

self portrait challenge: week 4: with someone
self portrait challenge: six word stories: week 3

3. Do you have a favorite self-portrait or series of self-portraits?

Halloween is my favorite holiday and last year I sewed a black tulle skirt to use for my costume.  I was wearing it and thought it might be fun to shoot a self-portrait in it.  That series has become my favorite.  Wearing that skirt made me feel very feminine and it brought forth a different kind of energy in front of the camera which we really caught me off guard in a good way.

self portrait challenge: week 5: tiny words
self portrait challenge: week 2: idioms

4. Do you feel that you have discovered anything new about yourself through your self-portraiture?

Whenever Jeremy issues a new challenge, I really grumble about it (don't tell him though).  The self talk involves a lot of " I can't figure this one out", "I don't know what I'm going to do with this one", "blah, blah, blah"....and then I watch myself get my head around it and synthesize it into something meaningful about my life at that time.  It's definitely taught me a lot about how I face challenges in life.  It takes me a while, but when I do commit to it, I commit full hearted.  Often times, I am very surprised at the emotions that do come out of the camera.....things I was not conscious of, but have found their way up to the surface to help me fill in my gaps of self awareness.

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self portrait challenge: week 1: the 7 dwarfs

5. What is your advice for for someone who is new to the world of self-portraiture and still getting used to seeing themselves in the picture?

I am not sure we ever completely get used to putting ourselves out there and if you asked me if I have a sense of reservation about making myself public, I would tell you without a doubt that I do.  But, the part of me that struggles with that is less than the part of me that wants to create.  I think that anyone who is considering exploring self-portraits, should give themselves time to wade through those days when the struggles to do it are great and know that the days of wanting to create are going to be larger. Christy, I want to thank you so much for asking me to speak about my work.  It's been a privilege and a true honor.

self portrait challenge: week 2: space
self portrait challenge: last week: space

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Dawn Hanna studied Studio Art at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, daughter and one crazy Welsh Corgi. You can find her on flickr, on facebook, and at her blog the dawn of an older age.

Dawn, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your vision with us here today at {In The Picture}. Your work has personally inspired me, and I was so happy to see that you picked the "tulle skirt" series as a favorite, as it is one of mine too (I even bought a tulle skirt a couple months ago)! I hope you don't mind, but I picked one last image from your flickr set because I couldn't let this interview go by without sharing one of my favorite selfies of all time...your creative polka dot image...

self portrait challenge: week 1: walls

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Hey all ~ don't forget to stop back here next Friday, May 25 for our next self-portrait linky party! I can't wait to see you {In The Picture}.

First time reading about {In The Picture}? Click here if you want to catch up!

In The Picture
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11 comments:

Lynne said...

A fabulous interview! Dawn inspires me to keep with the self-portrait challenge as you do with your wonderful blog and self-portraits!

Stephanie said...

What a fantastic interview. Dawn's imagery and artistic expertise is a constant source of inspiration and muse for me. I have loved her work for a long time (all of it) but truly her self portraiture is masterful. Her images are full of emotion and wisdom and vulnerability. Thank you so much for allowing her work to be shared on this platform!

Mom Photographer said...

OmG!!! these images are wonderful! thank you for the interview!!!!

Deb Medina said...

Wow!!!! I love everything about this post and Dawns photos. They are so inspiring especially for self conscious people like me who have a hard time putting my mug in the frame.

Linda said...

Great interview! Her pictures have a depth to them.
Thank you for giving us these interviews and opening up new channels to explore! This has really opened up a door for me that I am eager to explore! I have admired your self portrait work for a while! Keep up the good work!

I just joined the Self Portrait Challenge group on flickr! I hope to see you there!

xo,
Linda

Fiona Jones said...

So nice to find out more about Dawn...her work is breathtaking..x

This is Belgium said...

indeed very special
are you familiar with valery lorenzo.? I have a feeling that you would really like his style,
valery-lorenzo.blogspot.com/
anni

Bella said...

The photos are all so breathtaking!
Thank you for sharing this lovely creative interview.

lisa. said...

A fantastic interview Christy.
I have been following Dawn for some time now, and I truly love her work.
Thank you!!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Zena said...

Wonderful interview, her work is amazing

michelle gd said...

a wonderful interview! loved hearing dawn talk about her process...and especially appreciated this idea: the part of her struggling to put herself out in public being less than the part of her that wants to create.

these photos are fantastic!