f/22 this month heads along country roads and east towards West Virginia to talk to Mandy Tincher , owner of Pixel Pixie Photography. I met Mandy in the summer of 2007 while in Missoula, Montana taking some courses from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Her humor was obvious from the first day as we went around the room and introduced ourselves to the group, including stating our favorite photographer. For Mandy it was jokingly herself, and quickly as others couldn’t think of a favorite photographer Mandy became their favorite as well. As Mandy was a favorite for many at that time and even now, I wanted to introduce you to Mandy as well.
Mandy, how long have you been photographing and do you recall what got you started with a camera?
If I said I was an embryo, would you believe me? I documented the birthing process. Doctor’s were amazed. 7 lbs 6 oz plus a Kodak Instamatic . Not everyone is born knowing what they’ll do when they grow up…………….okay, and I wasn’t one of them. I do remember getting my first camera when I was five for Christmas. It was a gift from my Granny. I thought it was the most amazing thing. I still remember my dad tearing open that box of film and loading my camera. The result were a lot of pictures of the tree and my feet. In high school, I starting playing around with the camera again. Mostly I took pictures of half eaten pizza, and stolen newspapers. I occasionally had to take a serious picture or two for the high school paper, but trust me those serious moments were few and far in between. As college drew to a close, I became more serious about photography. I really didn’t know a lot of the technical stuff, but I really was intrigued by composition. I began playing with placements of subjects and finding different angles. I became the "family photographer" and became quite transfixed on the concept of being able to pause a moment.
What is the current focus of your photography and where do you want to see it going in the future?
I’m still placing focus about a third of the way in the frame. Didn’t you learn anything at RMSP Neil?
You know, honestly I’m still focusing on portraits. One day it can be a portrait of a four year old, or the next it could be a portrait of busted shopping cart in front of an abandoned building. I have a literature and writing degree and I think it’s given me a poetic license to personify even the most mundane, nonliving subjects. I wish to never loose that little fire that is burning in my gut to go out and be around people, photographing them and the objects that fill their lives.
As far as personal projects go, I’m working on one that studies different body types and juxtaposition. I’m stoked about it (yes, I just said stoked). I’m sure this a project that I can work on for a lifetime.
If there was a dream opportunity in photography what would it be?
A dream opportunity would involve a lot of money to travel with. So in short, winning the lottery and buying a motor home.
A lot of people think of West Virginia and just go by what they have heard without visiting the state. Do you think your images taken in the state will help people think differently about WV? Is this something you can do in the future as a project?
Hum interesting. I could drive around and show people that hillbillies actually do wear shoes, marry outside the family, and most of us have teeth. Can I change my answer in number two? Honestly, after traveling around a lot, I’ve learned each state has their own stereotypes, and I have met the cast of Deliverance and Wrong Turn in every state that I’ve been in. I hate to think that people are missing out on WV just because of stereotypes. WV really is a beautiful place, plus it has me in it. How could you go wrong with that? You know, as my work gets out there more and more, I hope there is something it that catches someone’s eye, something which encourages someone’s wander lust.
Having seen you in action in the studio and in the field, there is humor in the way you work. For those unfamiliar with you, how would you describe your style?
I’ve been told that I’m somewhat an extrovert. My personality is out and open. Basically I’m a vessel of laughter. I get asked a lot why I’m not doing stand up. Sometimes that really comes through in my work. What really surprises me though is that the work of mine that speaks the most to me, are the photographs which are surprisingly quiet ,calm, and sometimes mysterious. That makes me a little nervous. Those quite, calm, mysterious moments feel like diary entries. In the end though, I just hope that no matter what the subject, that my sincerity comes through, because I love those sincere and honest moments the most.
What photographers do you follow on a regular basis, and what about their work inspires you?
Can you actually list every member of flickr on here? Do you have that kind of space and time? I really do like to flip through flickr and see the world through someone else’s lens. There is also local WV photographer, named Rick Lee I like to keep up with. He does a lot of commercial photography which is cool, but I like his blog where he mostly just messes around with his point and shoot. Just a good reminder that the camera really doesn’t matter. I also like to follow my peers and teachers from RMSP. I really do like to study their work, and follow their styles. Honestly, they are the photographers I follow the most.
Is there any one lesson you have learned while pursuing a career in photography which others can learn from as well?
I’ve learned that every job, and I do mean every job has something to teach you. You’ll quickly learn what you’re doing well, and what you can improve on. I think the minute you stop learning, you might as well sell your camera on ebay. I don’t care what they say, you’ll never fully master photography. There will always be something new.
With the end of August here, do you have any predictions you would like to share for the upcoming college football season? Of course we will not post any ill feelings you may have towards the Michigan coach .
The only time you’ll ever hear a Mountaineer cheer on Ohio State will be when they take on Michigan and that guy we won’t talk about.
Some samples of Mandy’s work
Images Copyright 2008 Mandy Tincher, all rights reserved.
For more information on Mandy and to see more images, check out her website and blog:
Pixel Pixie Photography – Images by Mandy Tincher
I hope you enjoyed learning about Mandy, and be sure to stop by next month for another f/22 profile.