April 26, 2020
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
Photography by Abbie Briggs
Interview by Melanie Meggs
For Abbie Briggs, mental health is something she has struggled with since she was teenager, but since she started getting acquainted with her first digital camera a few years ago, Abbie quickly discovered it to be a useful tool in sorting herself out. For Abbie, it has been through self portraiture that she has really found herself. Now, photography has become a healing creative outlet for her and has saved her in many ways.
“Evolve or die.”
A simple reminder for me to keep moving and never stop growing. I also like it because it reminds me of Lily Tomlin and Lily Tomlin always makes me happy. I first saw the phrase on a shirt she was wearing in a portrait by Norman Seeff.
IN CONVERSATION WITH ABBIE BRIGGS
TPL: Abbie please tell us when you started getting interested in photography?
AB: Even though I've only honored it more recently, I've been drawn to photography since I was little. Reflecting back I can see that it was something always trying to grab hold of me but I just never let it. So life went on and I hit some hard times and fell into a pretty deep depression. I was basically treading water until about the end of 2017 when a DSLR fell into my lap and I started getting to know it. Finally answering the call that had been trying to get my attention my whole life really helped in pulling me out of the darkness. I haven't looked back since.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
AB: Nature, poetry, music, other artists and photographers.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
AB: I'm a big fan of Julia Margaret Cameron and the way she brought stories and poems to life in her portraits. I also adore the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Both in their own right as artists but especially with what they created together. Anna Gaskell - especially her Turns Gravity series - gives me life every time I revisit. And I have to mention Bob Dylan and Patti Smith even though they aren't known for their photography. Their influence has played a big role in making me who I am and that makes my art what it is. So, yeah, credit where credit's due and all that.
TPL: Has your style of photographing changed since you first started?
AB: Absolutely. It takes time to find your style, I think. I also believe it's something that can keep evolving. Growth is good.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
AB: My little home studio. It's my safe space for creating self portraits. But also anywhere out in nature -- the woods, botanical gardens or the wildflower garden that grows at a local park.
TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
AB: I am definitely not a "gear person." Personally, I'm most fulfilled by challenging myself to get creative with what I've got. When I was first starting I was blinded by the promise of new equipment but realized that giving into that wasn't necessarily helping me create anything I loved. My focus was on what I thought I needed to do it better. So I decided to simplify. I chose just one of my lenses (nifty fifty was the winner) and shot with that exclusively for about a year. During that year I focused more on studying different genres and other photographers. It really opened me up creatively. It helped me find direction for the art I wanted to create. I do have a couple other lenses that I create with, as well as some filters and stuff for when I just need to mix it up a bit (because that's good for creativity too) but these days I'm only drawn to something new when I'm feeling sufficiently ready to grow my portrait setup in some way.
TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a good photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
AB: I think being a good observer, having a good eye goes a long way. Keeping an open mind and a willingness to keep learning have definitely helped me grow as an artist. If you're into self portraiture I'd say authenticity is key. Stay true to yourself, trust yourself. Think through your ideas and get in touch with your emotions. Then tell your story.
TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
AB: I've always loved creating but it's usually just for myself. Collage is something I've dabbled in for years and I play with paint once in a while. Nothing professional though.
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
AB: I've got some bigger ideas brewing. That's all I'll say for now.