Photography is a dying art form & craft, especially among young people (thanks in no small part to Instagram). It’s a common thought that a vintage effect applied to a regular photograph makes for a beautiful picture. What is forgotten is that the beauty comes from both the craft & technique in creating the image; from planning and composing a shot to developing the film (analogue or digital). Naturally, when I look at a young photographer’s work, I’m typically skeptical. Consider my skepticism blown away. Chris Prince put the photography of Glenda Lissette in front of me and I immediately saw the raw talent behind her pictures.
Today, not only are we lucky enough to have an exclusive interview with Glenda, but she has been kind enough to curate a self portrait project just for CreativeFluff Magazine. Take a look at her photography below as well as read through the interview to get insight behind this budding photographer’s work.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 17 years old. Iâ€™ve moved around quite a lot in my lifetime, almost every year of my life. Iâ€™ve lived in Maryland, Arizona, & even Guatemala for a few years. I was born in Illinois and am currently living in a suburb just west of Chicago. Driving across the country, being in airplanes for ten hours, and always being the new girl has really given me a lot of time to myself. Itâ€™s been pretty lonely and all but Iâ€™ve always used creativity as my scapegoat. Iâ€™ve danced, sung, drawn, acted, wrote and read since the day I was born. I had a pretty hectic childhood with a pretty dysfunctional family, but my mother has always pushed me to be creative. I have seen beautiful and ugly things and my need to show the world has always existed. Iâ€™ve always enjoyed snapping stills but I think my passion for photography grew as I lived in Guatemala. I think it was the extremities of the country; both the horror and the beauty.
Q: What has you drawn to photography at such a young age?
I think itâ€™s just my desire for expression â€“ like any artist, really. I truly believe Iâ€™m on this Earth to capture. Itâ€™s what I do best. I want to do it till the day I die
Q: Are there any artists or designers that inspire your work?
Iâ€™m very inspired by many artists: Frida Kahlo, Tim Walker, Bosch, Sally Mann, Dali, and even director Wes Anderson. Some to-be legends however Rosie Hardy, Brooke Shaden, and also youngling Alex Stoddard really push me to have strong concepts. I think the one thing all these people have in kind is that they were totally different and most of these people have been found controversial. These people are innovative and have invented new ways to see the worldâ€¦or shall I say create new worlds.
Q: What type of photography are you drawn to? Portraits? Documentary? Fashion?
This is a hard question. Really, Iâ€™m drawn to pretty much all forms of photography. I mean I guess I love people, so pictures of people are my favorite.
Documentary photography is so beautiful because it really allows you to connect with real people. Though I mostly take â€œartisticâ€ images and usually they have a surreal aspect to them, I love pictures that just tell stories.
Lately Iâ€™ve been really getting into fashion photography. I never used to understand fashion, I thought it was shallow and ridiculous. This was until I realized the huge roll that clothes pays in my pictures. I realized that clothing really makes a character. Sometimes I see a dress & immediately a story pops into my head. Thatâ€™s why sometimes you see people wearing bags on their heads on the runway, yeah it looks ridiculous, but I think thereâ€™s always a story that the fabric and stitching tells.
Q: With all your amazing talent, are you getting a lot of work in photography?
Thank you so much! Haha, I take pictures every so often of kids from my school which is always fun! This summer, on my birthday, Iâ€™m doing my first wedding with a gorgeous model! So that will be very exciting. There are a lot of people who want to do photo shoots with me and most of the time I do it for free, but itâ€™s always a little hard because Iâ€™m in high school and have a busy schedule! I do a lot of volunteer work and work with local people, business, my school. I work with a local boutique that sells a lot of vintage clothes, so itâ€™s always fun to be able to photograph the clothing! A lot of photographers feel like doing this type of work is selling themselves out, but I find it to be really enjoyable. I give a lot of free sessions just because I love to do it and donâ€™t feel like I should be charging someone to have fun myself, plus it always serves as good practice
Q: Are you looking at an art college like Parsons, SVA, etc?
I did apply to art schools all over! I applied to schools in NY, Georgia, Kansas, Californiaâ€¦but I think I might stick in Chicago for a couple years. Iâ€™m not sure where yet, but wherever I go Iâ€™m 89% sure itâ€™ll be an art school and 100% sure Iâ€™ll pursue photography. I really think that college isnâ€™t about getting a degree, especially with what Iâ€™m doing. I want to go to college to actually learn and get way better
Q: What advice do you have for other amateur photographers?
My advice is carry your camera everywhere you go. I carry my camera everywhere, sometimes I tell myself Iâ€™m not going to take it but itâ€™s become a reflex and itâ€™s glued to me. There have been so many situations at school or at work where my camera has served as a relief and Iâ€™ve gotten myself into new work. Itâ€™s great! I always tell myself, you NEVER know what will happen. The world is so unpredictale, and Iâ€™m tired of having to say, â€œohhhâ€¦I wish I had my camera for this.â€
Q: Do you find that being a â€œpeople personâ€ helps in photography shoots?
Absolutely. Sometimes itâ€™s a little bit of a struggle for me because I recently have been very shy and awkward but I realize that when I feel confident and enthusiastic, the people Iâ€™m photographing feel the same. Itâ€™s so important that the models feel secure and feel a strong sense of direction! Itâ€™s good to have a conversation and break the ice so that the session will go smoothly
Q: Have you been able to get constructive criticism about your work?
Iâ€™m a very big part of Flickr. Itâ€™s a wonderful community; I get daily feedback (since Iâ€™m working on a 366 project) on all my photographs. To be honest, sometimes it it feels like thatâ€™s what keeps me going. Itâ€™s what keeps me taking pictures every day & I love it.
Iâ€™m also in Advanced Placement art class at my high school, so we have weekly critiques. Itâ€™s always helpful, but sometimes I wish that people would be more truthful/critical instead of just being kind
Q: Which of your cameraâ€™s is your favorite to shoot with? Mine is an old Spartus Full Vue with 120mm film
Well a couple months ago I got a Nikon D7000 and a 50mm lens, so paired up itâ€™s quite magical! I think what I really love about that camera is the great video option. Iâ€™m in my school morning announcements and get to make videos all the time so I always use it. I love cinematography and want to do really learn more about that world in college.
Now which cameras are the most fun is the real question. Iâ€™m not going to lie Iâ€™m a camera hoarder. I have shelves and boxes of cameras, lenses and accessories. I love shooting with my smiley face camera (Holga 135TIM), my nikkorformats, minolta x-700 and now thanks to the impossible project I get to use all my Polaroids! Of course shooting with film is super expensive but itâ€™s so much fun. I get to develop all my black and white film and pictures at school so thatâ€™s pretty awesome!
Q: Finally, where do you see yourself and your photography in 10 years?
In ten years Iâ€™ll be whatâ€¦27? Wow. Wellâ€¦ I see myself getting out of college for the second time but this time not with an photography degree but with marine biology. I see myself on a plane going back to my home in some warm state after being in Australia for a really long time. I see that the only thing in my luggage is a little bit of clothes and a bunch of camera equipment. I see someone waiting for me at the airport that cares about me, but Iâ€™m not married yet. Iâ€™ve been too busy, traveling the world, going to schoolâ€¦and getting a lot of recognition for it. Iâ€™m sitting in my seat my hands on my camera, excited to show the world of my trips. Excited to have come so far, and have people know that Iâ€™m a photographerâ€¦and a great one