Name: Mary Robinson
Age: 17 (turning 18 next month)
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Current town: ATL!
Film and/or Digital? Film is my favorite. I’ll probably be forced to change to digital sooner or later, but I love how you don’t really have to edit film (I don’t know anything about Photoshop). I also like the anticipation of waiting for the prints to be developed and not knowing if they’ll be any good. I like being surprised!
First camera: My camera timeline: disposable cameras, Polaroid, Canon xti, Canon AE-1, Instax 210, Yashica 124.
Current camera: My Canon AE-1 is my main camera I use for 95% of my pictures.
How long have you been taking photographs?
I think I’m going on three years now (if you count the days I didn’t take it seriously at all).
Thoughts about first images ever taken?
I don’t think I really thought much of them—I just took them for fun. If you go look at my disposable pictures, they’re of my friends running around, sticking their tongues out, and basically just acting like the fourteen-year-olds we were. The first pictures I was really excited and proud of, I took of someone I didn’t really know that well, about two years ago (with my Canon AE-1). I remember bringing them into the lab, hoping they would turn out well, and thinking that they probably wouldn’t. We did a lot of chance shots, like her flipping her hair and jumping, and I had no idea if our timing was in synch. When I got them back, I remember thinking about how amazing the film looked (the colors and contrast). That was the first roll when I actually knew how to work my camera, that roll’s predecessors were all too bright and just bad. That’s when I started obsessing about taking pictures, especially with film.
What do you see when you look at your work now?
That’s a hard question! I still think I have a ton to learn and improve upon, but they’re definitely better than my 2009 pictures, especially with the technical side of them. I had no idea how to work a camera back then, and now at least I have the basics down.
What do you hope others will see, if anything? Their experience?
I hope they can tell how much I love to take pictures. I really, really enjoy photographing people, especially friends.
What do you look for in an image? What makes a great photograph for you?
I like pictures that tell a story. Lately I’ve been really interested in photojournalists’ work, probably because of that. I also like when photographers take pictures of their family or close friends. You can tell when someone is completely comfortable being photographed by someone. I don’t know, that’s a hard question to answer. I like what I like!
My favorite photographers are Sally Mann, Tierony Gearon, Ryan McGinley, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Annie Leibovitz. Sally Mann and Tierony Gearon make me want to have kids (just to photograph, which is probably not a great reason). I love the freedom Ryan McGinley captures; Henri Cartier-Bresson makes me want to travel the world and photograph everything I see; and Annie Leibovitz is just an amazing portraitist and photographer all around. They’re my photography role models.
I don’t really have any favorite authors because I usually don’t like all of their books, so I’m just going to answer with my favorite books! My favorites are White Oleander, Catch-22, The Book Theif and The Lovely Bones. I’m reading Haunted right now and I’m really liking it. Chuck Palahniuk’s one of the only authors that can actually make me physically react to his stories. I’m always squirming around in my seat
Favorite places online?
I love Tumblr because it’s so easy to find new photographers and artists. I’m a complete book-nerd so I love Goodreads. I probably go on Goodreads more than Facebook.
My favorite photographs I’ve found through Tumblr are all in this section of my blog. One amazing collection of photographs is the Vanity Fair photo book, Vanity Fair: The Portraits: A Century of Iconic Images. I got it last Christmas and it’s probably my favorite book I own. My favorite pictures are all basically by the photographers I just talked about. You all should google their work and find their websites if you’re not familiar with them—they’re incredible!
Artist’s playlist: Band of Horses, The Everybodyfields, The Beatles, Adele, The New Pornographers, Damien Rice, Serena Ryder and the Beauties, Band of Horses, Ingrid Michaelson, all available here: Featured Artist: Mary Robinson.
Where do you want to take your photography?
I don’t know right now. I think I’ll probably end up being a darkroom teacher because I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and I love photography, so it’s a good match. I thought about being a photojournalist for a while, but I don’t want to photograph everything wrong in the world, and even though that’s incredibly important and someone has to do it, I don’t think I’m cut out for it. All I know right now for certain is that I love photography and I’ll be taking pictures for the rest of my life.
And how did you get into licensing with Getty Images?
Getty just emails me saying they want to put some of my pictures in their stock pile. The only time I actually do it is if it’s of my dog or you can’t see the model’s face—not because I necessarily want to honor their privacy, they’d actually probably like it if someone used their picture—but because Getty makes you fill out a form and sign everything and most of the people I shoot are under eighteen. No one’s ever bought one of my pictures, though!
You’ve published a book, Analog. What made you decide to publish a book of your work, and what, if anything, would you do differently—or will do differently with your next book?
Well, the main (and probably only) reason I made it in the first place was because I needed money. I didn’t have a job anymore, and I didn’t have any money for lab costs. I only used the profits for developing and buying film—I didn’t go blow it all on clothes. I don’t know what I’d do different if I made another book! I’m not planning on making another book for a long, long time, or ever really.
Editor’s Note: Oh, we’ll see about that, Mary . . ..