Life is a Photo Op l The Itchy Eyes

Meet Tricia King. She takes AWE-some photos of her life, and posts them to her super addictive blog – The Itchy Eyes. Prepare to be blown away by the way she documents life in her uniquely creative and awesomely honest way.

Where are you from?
I was born in Swindon, Wiltshire in England.  Swindon is best known for being the place where The Office was set but also heralded the band XTC.  My immediate family came to Australia when I was 6.  We left behind cousins and grandparents and uncles and brothers – and whilst one part of me wishes I could have lived the big city London life and gone to St Martins art college or the likes, the other part of me realises that if I would have stayed in England I wouldn’t have travelled the path which led me to photography and my husband (met at art college whilst both photography students) and my girls so I have to be at peace with it.

Where do you currently live?
I currently live in Brisbane, Queensland in Australia with my husband, two daughters, three cats, three chickens and a really healthy vege patch with about a thousand worms.

How long have you been shooting?
I started in early high school.  They had a darkroom tucked under a set of stairs and one of the older girls showed me how to process film and develop prints.  It was magical.  I shot for the school newspaper and did whacky arty projects for myself.  Every school project I somehow turned into an art project.  We had to do an economics project – mine had accompanying photographs.  For an English literature project I made my friends act out scenes which I photographed and submitted along with my written deconstructions.  I was in love with it and passionate from the start.  I can remember vividly that moment when I first saw a print develop in the darkroom.  It was – quite obviously – life changing.

 Are you self-taught or schooled in photography?
Self taught for about four years and then schooled.  My guidance counsellor in high school asked me what I wanted to do and I said “go to art college” he told me to drop that stupid idea right that second.  I submitted my portfolio to three colleges (two in Sydney and one in Brisbane) and got into all three.  My parents persuaded me to stay in Brisbane.  I have to admit, art college was great because I got to do what I loved all day long, but it baffled me too.  I knew what the lecturers liked and it was hard not to shoot to get good grades.  I constantly battled with myself about that.  It was a relief when it was over.  The best thing was the people I met there. There were some people who really expanded my thinking in terms of what is art.  And the art swapping – we gave each other prints all the time so I have some nice prints from some very talented artists now.

Do you photograph for a living or is this a hobby?
I spent years as an exhibiting photographer holding down a crappy day job.  One certainly doesn’t pay a rent as an exhibiting artist (only the lucky few)!  Then two or three years ago I started to pick up some editorial work – which I loved – and slowly swayed me to the idea of shoot for someone else.  From this emerged a new love of “the client” and I’ve turned this around to embrace family shoots and weddings.  I would have never have been ready to have the confidence in myself to shoot for others all those years ago – it took me a long path to hone my style and my skills to be able to meet a new client and assess their wants and needs and desires and capture that in an image.  So now I’m transitioning from being an exhibiting artist holding down a day job to being a full time portrait and wedding photographer.  I will be dropping the day job bit for good very soon.  Have you heard the Ira Glass piece about how you have to work every day at your art but it may take you years of not quite making the art you want to finally find your voice?  I think I’ve finally found my voice. (FYI watch this if you haven’t already: http://youtu.be/PbC4gqZGPSY).

What is in your camera bag?
I have a 3Annies camera bag which I stock with my Canon 5D M2 which pretty much always has my 35mm lens on it.  I have other lenses but this is the way I see.  I carry my 50mm and 28mm lens, lots of back up cards (I shoot constantly in life and work), spare batteries, my purse, my phone, my iPad, my hard copy diary (I need to write things down, I haven’t found an online to do list or calendar which works for me).  Had you have asked me six months ago I would have said film and a film camera but that hasn’t been so much the case lately.

Do you shoot digital or film or both?
I shot film exclusively for 20 something years.  Right up until last year when I started picking up more family portraits and weddings and decided I should probably explore digital.  I have my own b&w set up at home which I’ve used to varying degrees over the past five years.  I’ve had two children in the past five years and I won’t be around the chemicals when I’m pregnant – so in those times I’ve not processed at home.   I did the whole deal – bulk loaded my b&w film, processed it myself and printed it.  So it seems strange to have lost that side of my this past year but at the same time digital has pushed my boundaries further.

If both, what do you find both positive and negative about shooting in both formats?
As much as I’d like to say I’m shooting both formats I think it’s time to admit to myself I’m not.  I constantly fought myself regarding my change to digital but  I should embrace it as it has many positives and I believe its the right tool for me right now.  There are some amazing film labs these days – and more opening up which is awesome – but it wasn’t so for my last five years of shooting so I took it all on myself (processing and printing film) and I think towards the end it did become a bit hard.  I do miss using my half-frame cameras (which were the loves of my life) but I think my vision has changed.

Why do you love Digital or Film?
For me, I have become a better photographer since shooting digital because it’s been so much more accessible for me.  I know that’s not the case for everyone. Digital lends itself to clicking the shutter profusely and hoping the shot happens in front of you – which you simply cannot do with film – but because I shot film for twenty-something years I don’t do that.  I know the shot and I take it.  I’m economic.  Digital is rad if used right.  I think film is awesome to teach discipline on and everyone would benefit in their shooting to go back and learn the CRAFT of photography.  I am sad that art colleges these days no longer even have darkrooms.

How did this project come about?
I have always endlessly documented.  It’s what I do.  Where ever I go, I take my camera.  The way I now approach photography is reactive in that I respond to what is before me and capture the moment authentically but with my presence in the timing, framing, processing etc. Since having children I’ve had a focal point in my personal life to document.  When my eldest (Cody) was born I took a polaroid of her every two weeks for two years.  When my youngest (Mika) was both we started shooting a roll of 120 medium format of a head shoot of each of us so that we could see how all of us were changing over time.  Digital allowed me to move to daily life.  Film for personal use was too expensive.  So I started shooting mages every day of my girls and in 2012 I decided to start putting them on my blog.

What is it about this project that speaks personally about you?
I’ve done a lot of different projects and series over time but of course none have ever been as personal as photographing my children.  For me, it’s just critical and important.  I have no photographs of myself as a child so that alone marks its importance to me.  The very interesting thing which has arisen from this project is how memory is now preserved.  For example, my daughter vividly remembers the painting on the wall in the house where she first lived – although we moved out when she was two.  Having images refreshes her memory constantly and never allows it to forget.  Their worlds are so detailed now.

What would you want this project to say to the viewer?
That beauty and art and importance is everywhere, even in the smallest moment, so best not blink.

Are you currently shooting or planning to shoot another personal project?
I am always shooting different projects for one reason or another.  I have at least three semi-formed projects which I am working on.  I say semi-formed as I’m shooting for them but they haven’t quite reached maturation so I’m still at critical stages in their development.  I would be nothing without a zillion different projects at one (I’m one of those awful people who thrive on a chaotic stress).

If so, what is the goal you are trying to achieve from that project?
To keep moving forwards.  Walking towards the mountain and not away from it.

 How do you keep challenging yourself photographically?
By shooting all day every day.  I think the daily project is challenging – to shoot the same subject in an interesting way every single day (and after a long day its very hard to not have a “dinner shot” or a “bath shot”).  I’m also starting a blog called Hearth (hearthloves.wordpress.com) which is about how art is everywhere if you just look for it, and I’m using that as a vehicle to push myself outside my comfort zone by doing some non-traditional portraiture.  I think I push myself hard and am super critical but most of all I love what I do so I will always find ways to do it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen July 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

The Office is set in Slough.

toni raper July 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Tricia rocks, so glad to read her interview here. Her photography is cool, honest & unique much like her & her little girls are just scrumptious.

Kate De La Rosa July 27, 2012 at 12:32 am

Oooh I love Tricia!! Definitely one of my favorite photographers and I’m so thrilled to see her here. Great pick! :D

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