May 10, 2020
FABRIC OF NEW YORK VISUALS
Photography by Elle Clarke
Interview by Bill Lacey
Welcome to the world of Elle Clarke, a passionate New Yorker and street photographer who captures the city she loves with her Samsung Galaxy. From her Pentax K1000 SLR of the eighties to her modern mobile phone, Elle's photography has evolved and developed over the years. With a keen eye for beautiful compositions featuring strong shadows and patterns, Elle also has a sensitivity towards capturing people and places in need of comfort and support. Despite the physical challenges Elle faces in her day-to-day life due to Multiple Sclerosis, she continues to use photography as a healing tool and a way to connect with her beloved city. Dive into this interview with Elle Clarke and learn more about her amazing story and how she is creating art every day with her mobile device.
“I'm a native NY'er with a illustrative background. I have always worked in the arts and was always the photographer in my family. I learned to use a Pentax K1000 SLR back in the 80s, I have a Nikon DX digital, but all my street photography I do has been solely with my mobile Samsung Galaxy. I struggle with Multiple Sclerosis which derails me at times from my everyday life. When I'm healthy enough to get back to it, my street photography has become a healing tool, connecting me to the city I love and all it has to offer. I will never stop...it's that important to me!”
IN CONVERSATION WITH ELLE CLARKE
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Elle, could you please tell us when you first became interested in photography?
ELLE CLARKE: When I was about 10. I guess with my drawing, even though I can draw Photorealism, taking a photo and making that a true piece of art interested me more. I always had a craving to document everything and everybody around me.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
EC: I literally can find it anywhere, my kitchen, the neighborhood but especially NYC!!
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
EC: I always loved the painter Georgia O'Keefe, but discovered her partner photographer Alfred Stieglitz and his way of making a photo have a painterly feel! And the Russian artist Alexander Rodchenko has greatly influenced me by his use of shadows and patterns, architecture and people. You can throw photographer Paul Strand in there, and printmaker M.C. Escher.
TPL: Has your style of photographing changed since you first started?
EC: YES! I have become bolder in my compositions and don't care too much of what others might think. I shoot what catches my eye and spirit at the time, without sounding too corny here! 😉
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
EC: Absolutely New York City!!! Always something new even if your on the same street!
Creativity is a drug I cannot live without! - Cecil B DeMille
TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
EC: No!! Even though I have several manual and digital 35mm's I go out with my mobile Samsung because of its lightness and just blending in with the crowd. What would I say to someone starting? Just shoot everything! Be fearless, don't worry about what anyone thinks! Your eye is unique!!!
TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a 'good' photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
EC: I think a good characteristic is creativity and patience! Don't get discouraged by anyone! Just shoot what makes you happy! Look at other photographers in your genre and learn, we're never too old to learn.
TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
EC: Yes, I always drew and painted...was an illustrator and worked in the textile industry as a painter. I was that kid at the easel in kindergarten!
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
EC: Nothing at the moment, but when this pandemic is over...I want to go around my neighborhood and photograph all the old mom-n-pop stores and restaurants before they're gone!
TPL: If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
EC: Probably losing my mind...ok maybe painting!
With her background in design and her eye for composition and design, Elle Clarke has found her own healing tool in street photography. Through her work, she has been able to represent the city of New York in a unique way and express herself in the process. If you would like to see more of Elle's work, you can view her unique photographs through the links provided below.