“It takes time to develop as a photographer, so start now and persevere. Use your camera constantly.”
Grainne Quinlan (born in 1980) is a contemporary photographer from Ireland currently residing in Hong Kong. She studied photography at “Dublin Institute of Technology”. For Grainne Quinlan photography is a medium to interact with her subjects. She calls herself a performance photographer. You might also find interesting to read the interview with Grainne Quinlan about her recent series “White Crane Spread Wings”.
“I am a portrait photographer. My work is strictly character lead, with emphasis on costume and color. There is a high degree of performance found in my portraits. Subjects are represented as actors in front of the camera, with direction reciprocated between the subject and the photographer.”
“Artist Profile” – Grainne Quinlan
Grainne, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I became a photographer predominantly because of the access it gives to unique situations and people. With my camera I had a reason to go somewhere, to investigate, to speak with people, it opened up the world.
Photography is humourous and entertaining, emotive and abstruse. It is also a tool for education and understanding.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“I am at war with the obvious.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I use a Nikon D3, 24-70mm lens.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I like American Suburbx: www.americansuburbx.com.
What book about photography would you recommend?
John Szarkowski: “The Photographer’s Eye”.
Szarkowski’s role as a critic, curator and a photographer all feed into the language of this book. He simplifies a subject that is too often over complicated.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
“You can’t be a serious photographer if you only take pictures when you feel like it.”
It takes time to develop as a photographer, so start now and persevere.
Use your camera constantly. You can’t be a serious photographer if you only take pictures when you feel like it. You need to practise, practise, practise.
Enroll in a reputable course to get deep into the subject. Follow other photographers work, attend exhibitions and festivals. Stay informed, immerse yourself in the subject.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I keep returning to Seydou Keita’s images. He is an inspiration for me. He was Mali’s great studio photographer during the 1950s and produced luxurious black and white portraits at this time.
His resources were meagre – he photographed clients in front of bedspreads and cloths and saved on film by using only a few sheets per client. Despite limited access to equipment and financial constraints the images he produced were magnificent and are still revered today.
To me it is a reminder that great work can be produced regardless of restrictions, financial or otherwise. Nothing should get in the way of producing good work!
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
My photographic language is rich in color, humorous, abstract and offbeat. Not all of my projects use this language exclusively but generally speaking that is how I would define my language.
“When I’ve resolved the images technically, the concept behind my work tends to emerge.”
My creative process is to go out and make work. I don’t over think my idea’s but rather go with my intuition. The creative process tends to flow a lot quicker if I’m making work and reviewing it all the time. It is an iterative frustrating process when you don’t always immediately have the answers.
Planning means understanding if a project is feasible. I need to take into account access, finance and impose a deadline.
I jump from the planning stage to the execution stage quickly because the questions I have are usually only answered through test shoots, re-shoots, and successful shoots, and so on.
The technical and conceptual elements tend to become clear over a number of weeks. It takes a great deal of patience and persistence. When I’ve resolved the images technically, the concept behind my work tends to emerge. From there I refine the concept until I’m fully satisfied.