Photography is an art-form that is as varied as the people who take the photographs. It is always developing and growing, and hopefully so are we. Today we have the pleasure of sharing the work of Connie Imboden.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I never saw myself as an artist growing up, basically just a misfit. I had shown no artistic talent at all as a young person, and so at sixteen, when my mother handed me a summer catalog of courses listed at Maryland Institute College of Art with Basic Photography circled in red, it seemed out of the blue. She insisted that I DO something with myself that summer before my senior year in high school. How she knew to suggest photography at an art school remains to this day one of the marvelous mysteries of my life.
Which photographers work do admire? And what about their work inspires you?
I’ve always been drawn to Edward Weston for the magnificent formal beauty he saw. Whether he photographed a nude or a toilet he always approached the subject with the same respect. The moment I saw Diane Arbus work for the first time when I was seventeen I remember saying to myself – I didn’t know you could show that depth of emotion in photography. I also like the weird stuff, work by Eikoh Hosoe, Jan Saudek, Hans Bellmer, and Joel Peter Witkin. There’s a kind of psychological depth and darkness that I feel my work has in common with theirs….
In your mind what makes a great photograph?
To me, a great photograph transcends its subject matter. A great photograph can show us something deeper, some universal truth that speaks to us on a level that goes beyond the limitations of verbal language. I look for images that are at once disturbing and beautiful.
What challenges do you face as a photographer?
The medium of photography is always evolving, and the rapidly changing technology can be a challenge to keep up with. Every major technical advancement has a profound affect on aesthetic discoveries.
How did you get over your fear of water and was that your driving force to work in the water?
My attraction to water was purely visual. I did not start photographing water because it was a very important symbol, nor did I think about my own very personal reactions to water. I simply liked what I saw. As a matter of fact, it was only after starting my work that I recalled earlier childhood fears of the water. The further my visual exploration of the water went, the more distance I felt from the fear of it. Before long, my attraction to what I saw in, above, and below the water became so focused, so intense, that I simply forgot to be afraid.
How do you over come a creative block?
I’ve dealt with this so much I could write a book about it. I rely on discipline and try to just keep working. I have always found that working on a schedule is the most effective way to keep working, but when I am not progressing or the work just seems to be the same thing I always do it becomes very, very difficult. I usually start asking myself if I really want to continue or if it is time to stop and pursue something different altogether. Eventually I realize that photography is still my passion and so I make a new commitment to it – like renewing my vows. After the agony of the block I look at the work that I thought was so terrible and realize that is was not the work that was off, but me, or my perception of it. I had psyched myself out of being able to see the work as it actually was. The worst block I had was in 2006 and lasted for a year and a half.
And how to you go about planning a shoot?
I get the models together. I always plan the shoot on who is available, not looking for body types so much as who wants to be part of the process. I make sure the lights are where I want to start and then I look at the last few shoots. I do not plan specific poses. Working intuitively and responding to what is in front of me is important.
Would you tell us about your workspace?
I have a black bottom swimming pool I use for the underwater work. An assistant holds an underwater strobe. Sometimes I shoot at night so that nothing above the water shows up, while other times I shoot during the day and work to combine daylight with the single strobe. When I am working in the studio with mirrors it is much more complicated. I have several different lights I am working with – strobes, reflectors, hot lights and flashes. Combining different color gels I can mix colors.
How important is the “creative community” to your art form?
It used to be important to me but the older I get the less involved I am in it. I don’t look for feedback for my work as much as I used to, except from a very select few people who have known my work over a long time.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
It makes me more sensitive and aware.
How do you hope your art contributes?
I would like the viewer to look at my work and have an experience – joy, sorrow, a sense of beauty, loss, love, etc..
Please tell us what you enjoy about the workshops that you give?
I love giving workshops more than any other form of teaching because of the intensity. I see students progress more in a week in a workshop than a semester in college. Students who go to workshops want to be there, have paid a lot of money and often giving up their vacation to take the workshop. They want to learn as much as possible and push me to push them. It is fantastic. I always return from workshops exhausted but inspired!
Is there another subject or type of photography you would like to do?
The nude is the most popular subject in the history of art and I now understand why. Through the nude we can explore our psychology, spirituality and our aesthetics.
Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects ?
I put my latest work on my website so I would suggest that as the best way to stay in touch with my work. Connie Imboden
Thank you Connie for sharing your art.