I discovered our August Artist, Romina Mandrini originally on Instagram. Egads, I love me some Instagram for this very reason! Those days when you see an image that sparks something and proceed to go down the rabbit hole of stalking the artist who made the image. Romina wasn't on Facebook at the time so I had to write her directly on IG. Thankfully she wrote back and I've been stalking her photography ever since. I'm so glad she's since joined the FB-sphere so I can share her work with you here now!
There's something about her images, all BW, ghostly, etherial, innocent and raw, that speaks to my artists soul. I'm so proud to be spreading the word about her here. Please enjoy these images, words and links. Head on down the rabbit hole.
1) How long have you been in business and how did you get your start in photography?
I got started in photography in 2012 following the birth of my fourth child, who just happened to be The Worst Sleeper Known to Mankind (bless him!). During that time of utter exhaustion and delirium, a strange thing happened: I felt oddly energised to create things. I began making little paintings and collages – for whatever reason, doing this made the severe sleep deprivation seem bearable, even useful. It was a survival technique. One day, in an attempt to satisfy this insatiable hunger for a creative outlet, I found myself buying a used Canon 30D. I started reading everything I could about photography and, before I knew it, I was well and truly hooked.
2) Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
In 2014, I enrolled in an online course taught by photographer and curator Laura Valenti. This course drastically altered the way I approached photography: it taught me the importance of shooting what I love and the value of meaning over technique. I’ll be forever grateful to Laura for the wisdom she imparted during those six weeks. Other photographers who inspire me are Emmet Gowin, Sally Mann, Deborah Parkin, Lori Vrba, William Ropp – to name only a few. To me their images are intriguing, emotive, otherworldly and at times dark – all qualities I feel very drawn to.
3) What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I wish I’d known a bit more about the art-making cycle: the resistance to making art, the love/hate relationship with your work, the fear that you’ll never make good art again... This is what every artist goes through, but in the beginning I found all these highs and lows terribly unsettling, and it caused me a great deal of angst. I still find this process confronting at times, but I’m now able to recognise and accept it as a normal and healthy part of art making.
4) What does photography mean to you?
In recent times I’ve found photography to be a wonderful way to explore hidden parts of myself. The images I make of my children often bring back memories of my own childhood. Sometimes I see certain aspects of myself in the images; aspects I had not been aware of or that I’d forgotten. I’ve become fascinated by what the camera seems to know about me, and in this way, the process has become very cathartic for me. Photography is truly humbling. Often I will download my pictures thinking I got nothing, only to find that, on closer inspection, I was given something completely unexpected. It places me on the receiving end – I’m not necessarily taking the picture, I’m given the picture. There is something magical in that.
5) What is the best part about being a photographer?
I love the feeling I get when I’m honing in on something with my camera…everything goes quiet…and it suddenly feels like time has literally stood still. Being a photographer means I get to pause and be present on a regular basis. The process itself allows me to see, to remember, to connect and to engage with whatever (or whoever) I am photographing. Looking through my tiny viewfinder, searching for beautiful light, observing my surroundings from all angles – all these things force me to notice the little things that I would otherwise miss.
6) If you could shoot with any photographer in the world, who would it be and why?
I would love to learn from Deborah Parkin. Her images have an old-world, dreamy quality about them that really appeals to me; they are nostalgic and they move me. Deborah is an analogue photographer and I would love to explore alternative processes some day. Her Wet Plate Collodion work is breathtakingly beautiful. Her overall approach is so tactile – the way she makes her own photo books, the notebooks she keeps…she really is inspiring.
7)What is your favorite image you have taken to date?
My current favourite is probably “First Home”, an image I made of my daughter in the bath. She looked so strong through my viewfinder that evening… To me, this image represents a personal rebirth.
8) How do you feel about breaking the perceived rules of photography?
When I started breaking the “rules” of photography – when I finally understood that there actually aren’t any rules – my images became so much more meaningful to me. By using a slower shutter speed than what would be considered “correct”, or intentionally (or accidentally!) missing focus, or even by detaching the lens from my camera – this is when the magic happens for me. There is something to be said for letting go, throwing caution to the wind, and photographing from a place other than your logical mind. For me, it’s about allowing the work to be what it wants to be, rather than trying to control it.