Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work of photographer Birgit Maddox.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in the Northern part of the Black Forest in Germany close to the French border. I started traveling at a very young age and that drive to discover new things has never left me. But the more I travel, the more I find things disappearing, the old way of life, simplicity, beauty arising from hard work. These days we are inundated with noise, clutter and instant gratification. I want to capture the mysterious, what cannot be seen or is in danger of getting lost.
How did you get started in photography?
I first became interested in photography watching my uncle Fred with his Leica in the seventies. The images he produced were amazing. In 1978 I bought my first 35 mm camera, to shoot black and white. Three years ago I picked up photography again and I now shoot medium format. Mainly Hasselblad.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
The elusive quality of art by painters such as William Turner and Claude Monet has always intrigued me. Something draws me to those brush-strokes, directive motion and quality of light. I love the work of Michael Kenna. The clarity and simplicity of his images are astounding. Because I spend a lot of time in Italy, I have been fascinated with the Street photography of Italian photographer Pepi Meriso.
Did you have a mentor?
My daughter Michelle (Magdalena Maddox) told me I inspired her to become a photographer, and now that she is an accomplished photographer herself, she in turn inspires me a great deal both in technical aspects as well as creatively, but I am surprised how the photographic community supports one another. I learn a lot from my peers.
Do you mentor ?
I do thrive to inspire, perhaps not in photography, but in living creatively.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
If you could spend the day with another photographer living or from the past who would it be?
Michael Kenna. I admire both his photography as well as his philosophy on photography.
If no one saw your work, would you still create it?
The creative process is a need for me. I love the process of analog photography from the moment I am inspired to the sound of the shutter to developing in the darkroom, so yes, even if nobody saw it I would still create.
How do you decide what your top images are?
I usually know the moment I push the shutter if the image will be strong, but if that same feeling keeps arising when I look at it, I know I have something.
Please tell us about your process and what is the perfect day for you.
I have long searched for the perfect process, but it always finds me. As for the perfect day, I thought about what I should write about, and today I had the perfect day, so here it goes: I took the train to Genova to work with a photographer to learn more about toning. I spent the morning in the darkroom printing, had lunch across the street at Piazza Ferrari, visited a photography exhibit in the museum and back to the darkroom to tone the prints. Besides sepia and selenium toning we discovered a brand new way of toning that was just extraordinary. That pretty sums up a perfect day for me.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
That depends if you like challenges. As much as I love the slowness of analog photography, it can be challenging trying to get a shot set up in time. Darkroom products may be discontinued and I will have to find new combinations for papers and developers. But I love challenges and unpredictability. It keeps things interesting and ever-changing.
What do you hope the viewer takes from your work?
I would hope the viewer could experience what I felt shooting the image. A strong sense of mystery, a moment in time, an appreciation for what’s hidden.