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May 10, 2020


Photography by Elle Clarke
Interview by Bill Lacey

Elle Clarke is a native New Yorker with a background in design and worked as a textile artist. While previously she always had a camera in hand, a Pentax K1000 back in the eighties and a Nikon DX after that, Elle currently solely uses her mobile phone for photography. With a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Elle had to regroup, and with the ambiguity a mobile phone can provide, the convenience and her natural eye for composition and design, Elle's passion for street photography began. It has become her healing tool for her lost artistic self, connecting her to the city that she loves and all it has to offer. Mostly black and white work with some color, Elle is drawn to compositions that have strong shadows or patterns to create her own fabric of New York visuals.

"Creativity is a drug I cannot live without!"
Cecil B DeMille


TPL: Elle please tell us when you started getting interested in photography?

EC: 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 shooting 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!

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!