Elle Clarke is a native New Yorker. Always an artist with an eye for design, Elle has a background in design and worked as a textile artist. Typically always having a camera in hand, a Pentax K1000 back in the eighties and a Nikon DX, Elle currently solely uses her mobile to capture all her street photography. With a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Elle had to regroup, and with the ambiguity of a mobile phone in her hand, 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 usually have strong shadows and patterns, or, to a lonely look or a person's condition who might not be well or down on their luck. Her images capture an empathy whilst retaining a respectful distance. In Elle's work it almost feels like we are watching a film noir.
What is your favourite quote that resonates with you the best?
"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton
"Creativity is a drug I cannot live without!" - Cecil B DeMille
It's a toss up really...both of these always resonated with me...being a artist I can't imagine not creating, whether it's photography, painting or writing.
When did you start getting interested in photography?
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.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I literally can find it anywhere, my kitchen, the neighborhood but especially NYC!!
Who are your favourite artists/photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
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.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
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! 😉
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
Absolutely New York City!!! Always something new even if your on the same street!
Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
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!!!
What characteristics do you think you need to become a photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
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.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
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!
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
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!
If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
Probably losing my mind...ok maybe painting!
Always a pleasure to chat with you Elle. We can thank Instagram for bringing you into our lives. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today and sharing with us an insight into the woman behind @elleclarke7. Discover more of Elle's street photography by following her on Instagram.
All photographs are the property of artist © Elle Clarke.