Brooklyn based photographer Elena Mudd explores the relationship between individual and social identity from a feminist (or humanistic) perspective. The intimate portrait, conceived as collaborative process with her subject, is her specialty. Her subjects range from family members to strangers she meets on the street.
How did the idea for the series come about?
Lyssa responded to a post on my instagram seeking subjects for a series I’m doing on body image. We connected through DM and decided before we worked on that project together we should get to know one another and shoot something more fun. I asked her to bring clothing she loved and felt confident in and we basically played around with what I had in the studio. There wasn’t much planning but it all flowed very well and felt very collaborative and fun.
“I think we are creating at an exciting time, where more and more womyn creatives are coming together to make art and imagery that is reflective of what they feel and what they see in the world.“
Can we photograph the female body in a more powerful way?
Of course. There will always be work to do there. I think we are creating at an exciting time, where more and more womyn creatives are coming together to make art and imagery that is reflective of what they feel and what they see in the world. The male gaze has colonized the art world and especially how we view women’s bodies in art for far too long. While I love many male artists, there is an inherent difference when they and when other womyn photograph womyn subjects. I aim to collaborate with each person I work with, to make it a process of creating together something that speaks to truths of how we feel in the world as womyn and femmes. Too many people view models or the person in front of the camera as a prop, an object, a body. I try to represent my subjects as more full, complex versions of themselves. I’m sure I don’t always succeed but I’m trying.
How would you define beauty?
Ooooph that’s a tough one. Beauty to me is in the smallest moments. It’s the way a friend laughs, first covering her mouth and then unabashedly. It’s light. It’s the way light touches someone’s face and eyes. Beauty is that inexplicable combination of strength and vulnerability. We as humans have it, the ocean has it, trees have it, animals have it.
What inspires you and what makes you happy?
I’m inspired by other forms of art, I love film and non-fiction essays and poetry. But mostly, since I create a lot with other people, I am inspired by individuals. By the stories they tell and the way they tell them, and I am especially inspired when someone opens themselves up to me while we are collaborating. It opens up this door of energy and fueling one another that I love. Food, art, dogs, getting stoned with my boyfriend, dancing with my friends, and creating make me happy.
Film or digital?
I will always love the look and feel of film more, it’s what I started shooting with and how I fell in love with photography. But it’s expensive and sometimes too slow for me. I’m a hybrid shooter. So both!
Lastly, what’s next for you?
I am working on a video project with a friend of mine who has been one of my greatest muses in the last year or two. And I’m photographing and interviewing womyn and femmes around the central theme of body image. It’s part two of an ongoing project. I’m still trying to figure out how I will present it to the world but I’m excited about it!