Article contains adult images.
When I look at photography, I want to feel moved by the image – to be within that moment that has been captured and to feel. When Anita McGarry picks up her camera – it is that narrative that she has the ability to create in a still image that makes me such a fan of her work.
My own skills with my DSLR are well let’s be honest – quite basic so I always feel in awe of people who have mastered all the aspects of photography and whose skill base I find inspiring. I am delighted to be featured an interview with Anita today on Floralesque as I was so interested to learn more about what brought her into the area and where she finds her inspirations from.
Have you always had an interest in photography? Do you have any fond first memories?
Yes – always! I remember finding an old wind-on camera at home and that was the very first one that I played with; I think I was 7 years old. I loved it so much! Even though it was broken, it was the idea of having my own view of the world through the little viewfinder that bewitched me. So, when I was around 9 years old, my parents gave me a small 35mm for my birthday and it built from there!
From then, I was always taking photos. I remember an old National Geographic article about a photographer who lost all his gear on arrival in Cuba and ended up doing all his coverage on a bunch of disposable cameras. The photographer’s name escapes me but they are still some of my favourite and most inspiring photographs.
You have always had such a keen interest in art and design – do you think that this has influenced your photography style?
Without a doubt. I loved drawing since I could hold a pencil, and always in black and white. Pen and ink sketches were certainly my favourite with people featuring heavily.
In college, I imagined that I would be taught how to paint and develop my skill more, but sadly that was not the case. As a result, I had images in my head which I could not express on canvas. I ended up sourcing my own models, to create my own scenes and I used my photography to help depict the narrative that I wanted to convey in my paintings. The photos were direct reference material for each one but I soon realised that my heart lay with photography and not with painting.
How would you describe your photography style?
I would say classic film noir.
Oh please do expand – I am not familiar with film noir!
It is an old style, think back to the 1940’s, and is generally described as moody, dark and dramatic. There is a timelessness to that look, sometimes it was more of a boudoir style, dressing room lighting and a little Hollywood glamour that shows some fairytale elements and these elements leave a lot of scope for variety and playfulness with images.
Are there any photographers that you look up to?
I really admire the work of Paolo Roversi and Sebastiao Salgado. I could probably add to this list forever but the way these two use black and white is enchanting!
People seem to be your favourite medium to photograph – what do you find so enthralling?
Everyone has a story and a history and I like to be able to capture that.
Where do you find your inspiration from?
I love that people have a story to tell and I like to capture that narrative in my photographs. Some people don’t like to have their photo taken so I always ensure that I engage with every person. I encourage them to tell me a story about themselves, what they like and don’t like. By doing this it can make them feel like a person having their picture taken and not just being a prop for a stranger.
Travelling also allows me to take some wonderful images. Again I always try to engage. People have some amazing stories, even though most are quite humble about it but it’s amazing how willing people are to talk and share with a stranger. I think it’s a mix of both sides enjoying the exchange and a feeling of something new and exciting. It’s an experience that is a two-way street.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your images fresh?
Travelling and talking to people. My two favourite places so far have been Cuba and Southern Italy. The people make the photographs. The personality of the people in these places was electric, even the ones who didn’t want to be photographed! I find in general that people are very interactive and curious there, perhaps the better weather has something to do with it but I’m Irish so of course I’d assume that! But I must say that I often meet great characters just by sitting with a stranger on a bus or in a cafe- stories are all around us.
What type of camera do you use?
– Canon T70 35mm
– Canon EOS 50D
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
Oh, that is a hard one! Probably my lens wipe – I use it all of the time and it is on my key chain so I always have it with me.
What do you find most technically challenging about being a photographer?
I think the light changing so quickly can sometimes cause me issues. Just when I think I have nailed the setting for an image, the light changes and I need to start again. Since I am artistically trained, I always feel like my technique needs improvement. As Michelangelo said, “ancora imparo”- “I’m still learning”.
How important to you is the post editing process?
I prefer to take the photograph and go. I don’t like to spend hours changing an image to make it something else. I rarely Photoshop my images. I use Lightroom to alter contrast and some other darkroom techniques but that’s it.
For those testing the water with photography – do you think that they should go straight in and buy a DSLR or how should they start?
I think you need to buy a camera, but not necessarily a top of the range DSLR at the beginning. I would recommend someone to buy a decent second-hand SLR or DSLR camera and one prime lens to help train their eye. You need to be able to see things creatively. Some people are more technically minded and will be creative later but I think the training that eye can make it more fun from the get-go.
What advice would you have for those photographers just starting out?
Have fun! Don’t be afraid to take photographs. You will make a lot of mistakes and that’s okay. Enjoy them! You will always be learning – we all are and that is a large part of the fun. Also, always keep your camera in your bag with you because you never know what opportunity may pop up.
Can you please tell us about your upcoming Exhibition?
It is a selection from a continuing catalogue of nude photographs that goes from 2005 up to now and it is an exploration of language and communication through the human body. This collection excludes faces as I wish the viewer to create a one-to-one conversation with each piece without searching for clues in facial expressions.
Anita’s current photography exhibition entitled ‘Eden Photography Exhibition‘, is on in The Black Gate Cultural Centre, Galway from 13 March – 27 March and is well worth visiting. Her work is just beautiful and really takes you to the moment when the images were captured. To learn more about it click here.
What does the future hold for Anita McGarry Photography?
I would love to make my passion my career, my full-time career in whatever capacity it evolves to. I think that travel will feature heavily in this aim and of course, an expansive collection of stories is the ultimate goal!
A massive thank you to the amazing Anita for the interview. Having seen her craft develop over the last number of years, this is certainly one photographer who can capture the inner feeling of the human soul from behind her lens and one whose exhibitions I look forward to attending. You can follow her on Facebook here.
All images kindly provided by Anita for use.