Thoughts of a photographer // Joelle McTigue

My prior main focus in photography was in black and white street photography. The imagery played on heavy contrasts to create patterns and direct the viewer's eye. As I transitioned to color photography, I began looking for a way to introduce pattern.

[C] What makes a good photograph?

[J] We are taught to believe the perfect composition and lighting will lead to a good photograph. Sometimes it does just as a perfectly symmetrical face can be beautiful. It's the ability to use asymmetry or imperfection to convey more than a pretty face or landscape that makes a good photograph.

 

[C] Could you talk us through your themes? There’s seems to be a tendency towards Islamic style art, how did this come about?

[J] My designs tend to have an inherent mashup of European architecture and African textiles due to my upbringing in the Caribbean.

 

Inspired by Ray and Charles Eames' Powers of Ten film (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0) and the rituals of gardening, my current series Control and Cooperation restructures landscapes into aerial botanical gardens. The original photographs are of public spaces that embody the power dynamics of practical, leisurely, and spiritual pursuits.

 

[C] How did you first become interested in photography?

[J] When I lived in Los Angeles, my interest in street photography happened organically. I used to go on long walks around

the city by picking a starting point, but never an end. It was a great way to explore the city. Eventually, I started bringing my camera with me to document the places I found. My street photography evolved into my current work as I began to travel.

 

[C] What does the term art mean to you?

[J] Art is a form of communication with the past, present, and future. No matter what you are trying to convey, invoke, or record with art, the commonality is an attempt at communication.

 

[C] Could you explain the process by which you produce your images?

[J] My street photography evolved during my travels when I became enamored with the history of the grand gardens across Europe. The gardens, their history, and how the land is re-purposed inform how I deconstruct and rebuild my photos. I digitally take the photos apart and re-stitch them together to collapse the perspective and emulate an aerial point of view. The outcome is closer to a digital painting than a photograph.

 

[C] Your work is very much influenced by cultural identity - is it right to assume that travel is therefore essential to you?

 

For two years, I moved every three months to a new European country. The length of time allowed me to learn about local culture and history. For me, cultural identity is elusive. I have tremendous respect for the people I’ve met who have a deep understanding of their own cultural identity and heritage.

 

[C] Do you find a comfort in the repetitive and almost mathematical nature of your work?

[J] Absolutely, I do.​

[C] How has being an expat influenced your work and artistic endeavour?

[J] When I started traveling full-time, Montenegro was one of the first places I lived. I enjoyed the country and knew I wanted to return. Within two weeks of my second trip, I started looking into moving here because I finally felt at home. Finding the familiar in the unfamiliar spurred a creative burst and has been the primary influence in my new work.

 

[C] There seems to be a combination of colour, architecture and shape within your work. Would you say each is integral to the success of the work or does one element dominate over the others?

[J] As a final piece, I think the most successful works address an even combination of colour, architecture, and shape.

[C] Would you describe your work as beautiful? There’s seems to be a focus on symmetry, bright colour and a composition that is pleasing to the eye. In other words are the pieces driven purely in a pursuit to deliver an aesthetic or is there something more?

[J] Beauty is a welcomed byproduct. The places I photograph are inherently beautiful themselves as many of them are tourist hotspots or local favorites and can carry their own hashtags. Using  a mathematical approach to reconfigure the images helps maintain a symmetry that is inherently pleasing to the eye.

 

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