Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Art of the Self Portrait: Feature interview - Mirjan

This is the third interview for the feature The Art of the Self Portrait, meet Mirjan...

'It was a place that I could be myself, that I could express myself, proof that I was alive.' Mirjan

1. Fill me in on your background, where are you from and how did you get in to photography?

My name is Mirjan, I am 22 and I live in Holland, a small village together with my family on a farm.

I started photographing almost 4 years ago, i asked my parents for a camera for my 18th birthday. I got a small digital camera and started to experiment.

2. Who has influenced you the most in terms of photography?

A difficult question because I started photographing when I was studying fashion. I found out that I couldn’t put my creative feelings into clothing so found something else. I finished the study and felt that my photography was growing. I learned everything myself.

I always felt attracted to old images, especially from Edward Sheriff Curtis and all the other vintage photographs. They had an emotion, something very personal. And deep down I always liked photographs.

3. Why do you prefer to take self portraits?

It had many reasons when I started to think about it, and people asked why do you take self portraits. I never could answer that, because I didn’t know why, i just took them. But I know now it was a place that I could be myself, that I could express myself, proof that I was alive. Now I understand it more and you can learn so much from yourself. I have a whole different perspective on my images now than 4 years ago.

4. What is your process when taking self portraits from getting ideas to editing?

I never think too much about what I am going to do. Usually I get up early and when the sun is shining or there is a beautiful fog (which is one of the beauties of autumn) I get up and get my camera and take some pictures. And afterwards I look what I made and see if there is something I would like to share.

Purity, I find that important, to be in touch with nature. I can be out of inspiration as well, in the beginning it can be annoying but now I know I can put my camera away for a while and when I feel that I want to take photos, I take them.

5. What are your tools of the trade?

I started with a small Sony digital camera and now I have a Canon EOS 400D with the basic lens: 18-55mm together with my 55-200mm and 17-85mm lens. I use a tripod and a remote control.

6. Where do you hope to go with you photography and self portraits?

To share moments, feelings and emotions. I would like to keep close to the freedom I get from taking pictures. It gives me silence, no thoughts just being there, a moment. It will always be my passion but I don’t think that I am going to make a job of it. I have other plans, but It will always be an expression of how I see or feel things.

7. Why do you think people are drawn to self portraits and what is you impression of the people that think it's just narcissistic?

For me it is very personal and I find it hard to explain it in words what each picture presents.

It’s not only the share something but also to learn something about yourself. There is always a reason why you take this photo and why you wanted this location, to be outside or in the house, to be happy or sad. I find it hard when people say that it is narcissistic but judging is so easy. You have to take a closer look to understand why, or maybe don’t even think about why, just take a look and go further. Some people like what you are doing and some people don’t.

8. Who are some other self portrait artists that you admire?

Right now the Swedish Anna Classon. The world she lives in and how she sees her world trough her own eyes is just amazing. The light and the feelings.

Originally uploaded by annaclasson

I always find it hard to explain it in words, I always have a feeling and I think that is one of the reasons as well why I take photos. It is a different language, no words just being in the moment.

9. What is your best tip to taking a self portrait?

Best tip, just stay close to yourself, and follow your intuition. And most of all have fun!

10. Your photos seem to incorporate your surroundings, is this a big part of your style?

Yes, I live on a farm and nature is important to me. To be surrounded by trees, land, water, grass, just everything. Nature and human are one. I like to see far. It gives me freedom. I always like to use flowers and other natural things.

11. Who has been your biggest influence in your photography work and where do you look for inspiration for your work?

I am a big fan of English costume movies! I have seen Pride and Prejudice so many times, all the other movies as well, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility. Even the music, especially Dario Marianelli, is an inspiration. The costumes, the emotions, nature, the whole scenery is an inspiration to me.

Also other movies like Atonement. Joe Wright is an amazing director, the light and everything it just fascinates me.

Music from Sigur Ross are an huge inspiration. I have seen them twice in my life, and the music brings you to another dimension. But if you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining on your face I feel inspired.

12. What has been your biggest achievement so far with your photography?

For me it was that I could express myself into my photographs, that I can let my intuition go.

13. Which self portrait artist do you think i should interview next and why?

Anna Classon, for sure!

Thank you Mirjan,

See more of her work here

See her blog here


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