Dee Elegia, Manchester, UK
Please introduce yourself to our readers: My name is Dee, but I'm more commonly known as elegia. I'm a self-taught analog photographer from Scotland, but I've been living in Manchester, England for the last four years. I love colour and quirkiness, and I pretty much live on tea (and hummus).
How and when did you get into photography?
I got into photography via modelling around six years ago. It began with me experimenting with self-portraits as a way of practising my posing and to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. A few of the resulting self-portraits I shared online in my modelling portfolio garnered a bit of interest, and soon I was photographing other models who liked my work. My fellow models were incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about my photography, and it was through the experience of working with many of them that enabled me to build up a body of work. At the time, film cameras were cheaper for me to buy than digital, and they were also the perfect way to teach myself the technical side of photography - since you need to know what you're doing in order to get anything out of them. All of this was a real learning curve and ultimately helped me realise that I was passionate about trying to take things further with my photography. So I quit modelling and relocated from Scotland to England to focus on doing photography for a living.
What cameras do you use preferably for analog and digital?
I go through favourites when it comes to cameras. Last year my weapon of choice was an Olympus Mju II, which is super compact with a great lens. I like that it's weatherproof (I've used it during a rainstorm and it has survived falling into a pond). Setting it up for shooting self-portraits is mega easy, and despite it's unassuming size the camera is capable of really amazing results. This year I've been using my Zenit E a lot, and I'm hoping to buy a new large format camera which will give me more ways in which to improve and learn. For my Polaroid work I flit between an SX-70 and a Spectra. The former is great for getting up close to subjects, and the latter has multiple exposure capabilities that are just so much fun!
You are one of the rare artists who are lucky enough to be fantastic photographers and models in one persona. How do you come up with the ideas for your self portraits?
The ideas for my self-portraits a lot of the time are very personal and draw on my life experiences and childhood. I'm a nostalgic person and I have found that that really comes through in my photography. At the moment I'm working on a project about dyspraxia, as I feel this is one of the things which has shaped my eye and what makes my work unique to me. I also think that some of my ideas are simply of the moment; like noticing the light playing on a wall in my house, so I will quickly load some film and try to capture a shot or two. Others are more thought out and planned, and have a meaning to me. I think inspiration is an ever evolving pool that creatives tap into and for me my environment, my life experiences and things I absorb daily such as cinema and music, all contribute to it. Colour is my main influence, I'm just drawn to it. So I'm always experimenting and trying to find new ways to infuse my work with as much colour and vibrancy as I can.
Please tell us more about your prints, is the physical aspect of images on paper a big part of your art?
Printing is probably the most important tool when it comes to my photography, and I feel it's the best way to truly appreciate anyone's work. I don't think your work really exists until it's in a tangible form for you to hold and look at. There is just something so special about staring at a huge print on a wall, that pixels on a computer screen can't compete with. There have been lots of images which I was unsure of when scanning as a negative, which I've then taken into the darkroom to print and made something better out of them. Printing your work is also a great way to evaluate and consider where you're trying to go with it.
Is there anything, anybody or anyplace on your bucket list you have to take a picture from?
I'd really like to photograph my Dad. He's the person in my life that I look up to the most, and I'd like to capture a little piece of what it feels like to be around him, in a photograph. There are lots of places in the world I'd love to go shoot at, namely Tokyo and New York. These cities would be a challenge for me because I usually don't like anyone else being in the image other than myself or the subject. I also struggle with crowds and noise, so I think that I'd enjoy pushing myself to create work in a bustling environment like that.
And last but not least, is there anything you want the world to know?
I would like the world to know that analog photography is accessible to everyone and it's as much fun as it looks. I'd encourage anyone to pick up a cheap film camera from somewhere to try it out for themselves.