Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work of Winky Lewis.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am a mother of three, now almost all teenagers, these years are just flying by now. We live in Portland, ME.
How did you get started in photography?
I was exposed to some wonderful family pictures when I was young. My father took really nice photos, a lot of photos of our family. My grandmother gave me a camera when I was six or so and I pretty consistently took pictures from then on. My brother and father gave me an enlarger when I was in high school and we transformed a bathroom in our house into a darkroom. High school yearbook editor, etc. and then in college I stumbled into Emmet Gowin’s classroom, not really knowing who he was. I didn’t know anything about fine art photography.
Did you have a mentor?
I guess it would have to be Emmet. He was certainly very influential. I was fortunate enough to spend a few years in his classroom and darkroom, he was my thesis advisor. He validated the idea of family photos. He taught me how to print, how to see. I have always photographed those I loved, and have leaned towards children. When I was young it was my younger brother and dogs, I think. And for the last 15 years I’ve been photographing my children.
Which photographers and other artists work do you admire?
Emmet Gowin, Fazal Sheik, Sally Mann (even more so, since reading her book), Hellen van Meene, Loretta Lux, and Jock Sturges, who has actually been so helpful to me these last few years. He found me on Facebook and even edited a book of my work that was published by the German Galerie Vevais. His kindness and generosity knows no end.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time and why?
There are so many images that come to mind. I do love the work of Loretta Lux and picture her images in my mind often. The photos from the early 2000s. I have her book from then and I sort of see those photos as one. I love them. I love the children, the spaces they inhabit or are placed in, the objects they are sometimes holding, the emptiness, the light, unreal nature of them. I find them hauntingly beautiful.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
Please tell us about your book. We spend our summers, or part of them, on a small, quiet, lightly populated island off the coast of Maine. I am pretty much in heaven there taking pictures of my kids. Just capturing the play and the time there, which in these busy days is different from our time the rest of the year. But then there are also times, where my daughter and I will actively go out and “take pictures” and I love that too. At these times, there is some posing going on, but it is usually the moment before or after “the pose” that is the moment.
Please tell us about Stop Here. This is the Place.
The book! The hard copies just arrived. They look good, I can breathe a sigh of relief. My neighbor and dear friend, the writer, Susan Conley, made this together. It began as just a creative exercise, just a way to collaborate on something. One day I just said I was going to send her a photo every week, from the week, and would she respond? She did! Every week. And I’d get those emails and pretty much my heart would stop for a bit. The photos, of my kids or hers, of play out in our street, etc. were taken to a whole new place or time. At the end of a year, we thought we had a book. I just hope that everyone reacts to it the way I did each week when I’d get Susan’s prose in an email. I spend so much of my time these days at my computer working on various jobs (I shoot commercially as well), a lot of editing time spent here, a lot of time alone at my desk, which I love, but I feel like I’m just racing to catch up much of the time. So to get those words from Susan each week and to feel I was really halted and touched by a memory or a thought about my children, was so welcome. I hope others feel the same way!
What challenges do you face as an artist?
Time! I wish there was more. I wish I was shooting more, working with images more, thinking more about just where I want my photography to go or what I want it to be. There is a lot of racing these days, our house is busy, I want to be present for my kids, so it is a juggling act right now.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
There are many. Who do different kinds of work. The first thought though is that it would be pretty cool to be by Emmet’s side as he shoots the butterflies in South America. He told me about how he shoots them, live always, but I’d love to see it, and see him do it.
How do you over come a creative block?
I do get scared, always, that I can’t take good pictures, for one reason or another, but since I’m just really capturing what is around me right now, I don’t think I’ve really felt the creative block thing, but wait til the kids are out of my house! I’m sure I’ll come face to face with this phenomenon, big time.
What is next?
I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, I’m not a big planner! The focus of my work this last year, has leaned towards my daughter, and I imagine we’ll just keep going in the same vein for as long as it feels right. The book that Jock curated is all photos of just my daughter. If this book that Susan Conley and I have published is well received, we have year two almost ready to go.
Thank you Winky. To learn more about Winky Lewis please visit her site at, Winky Lewis Photo.