IN CONVERSATION WITH LI MULLEN
Li Mullen is an universal photographer from the United Kingdom and Ireland who dabbles in multiple genres of photography and narratives. Passionate about the arts, fashion, and travel, Li reflects these themes in her whimsical and thematic work.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
I was born in Dublin though I never grew up there. My family moved to London a few months after I was born. London is my home but Ireland is always in my heart.
When I was little I had a Fisher Price toy camera that never left my side. I’d pretend I was an intrepid photojournalist. I suppose that’s how my love affair with photography started. All thanks to a toy camera.
Do you have any particular stories or any interesting experiences or memorable moments of connection with people you have met?
Engagement with people depends on the situation. I have met and photographed some interesting characters at protest rallies, special events and festivals in the past. The most memorable experience was documenting the Donald Trump protest in London (March 2019). The public really did not want President Trump on British soil. The atmosphere at the protest was electric. I had a great time documenting it.
Your photographs in your Instagram gallery usually tell a story. Is storytelling actually a big part of your photography?
Yes, absolutely. Storytelling is integral to my work. The story is the soul of a photograph and is what brings a photograph to life.
Do you have a favourite quote/lyric/saying that especially resonates with you?
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
― Coco Chanel
As a woman and a female artist – it is important that our voices, thoughts, feelings and opinions are heard and not suppressed or demonised.
Where do you find your inspiration? And do you have a favourite place to shoot?
Mainly from fashion and the arts. One of my favourite places to shoot is in an art gallery. Galleries are difficult places to shoot… I like the challenge of shooting in artificial low light conditions. I like to observe people observing art. Art evokes different emotions in people.
In general, describe your style? What are some elements you always try to include in your photographs?
My style is whimsical. Sometimes I look for the funny in photography. My aim is to create some intrigue and tell a good story.
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers? Who do you think has mostly influenced your style?
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
Dorothea Lange: Migrant Mother
Diane Arbus: Revelations
Cindy Sherman: 2016
Alec Sloth: I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating
Olga Bushkova: How I Convinced my Husband to Have Child
Curtain Call: A Year Backstage in London Theatre 2016 by Matt Humphrey
What motivates you to take photographs? Do you ever have any struggles in photography?
Photography is what I am good at and I’d be lost without it. Do I ever struggle? Yes, all the time. Everyone has self-doubt. Without a bit of struggle – one would never grow as an artist. It’s healthy to keep expectations realistic and go with the flow.
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
I dabble in different genres so for me having the right equipment is essential. My preferred lens is a 24mm f/1.4 prime lens. The 24mm gives a nice scope.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
I’ve been involved in the artistic world since 2003. I’ve worked in television/film and fashion doing PR/editorial photography and retouching. Presently, I do a bit of freelancing for the arts and culture industry.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
To never stop learning and create content that I enjoy and can relate too. I don’t like to plan too far ahead into the future. I take each day as it comes. We’ll see what happens.
Are there any special future projects that you would like to let everyone know about?
Currently, working on a few self-portrait projects inspired by fashion and popular television characters. Silly fun. Keeps my creative juices flowing when I’m not working.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…”
...Spend time with the special people in my life. Visit the theatre and watch a play. Go to the cinema and watch a film."