I have always enjoyed black and white photography. It allows the photographer to capture the true essence and real movement of the present with a dream like quality in muted shades of grey. When I first saw Julia’s photographs in Brooklyn last year, I was again reminded of the beauty of this art form. Julia’s photographs brought me back to a softer, gentler place, a world void of fast paced technology and streaming pixels and into a space of innocence and discovery.
When did you first know that art would be your calling?
Both my parents were artists, so they constantly exposed me to art when I was little, finger painting and drawing. My mom is also a teacher and she would let me be her assistant. I grew to love art in general, not just photography. I loved creating.
What attracted you to photography?
When I was eight years old, I got my first camera for Christmas. I loved it. It was a small point and shoot film camera. It was the days before digital. I would walk around the block and take pictures of everyone’s dogs and animals. I wanted to work for National Geographic. I had these big photography dreams. I would take pictures of landscapes, just for fun. It was something that I was so comfortable doing that I could never imagine doing anything else. I knew that it was my calling. So I got a nicer camera and started taking classes on Long Island at USDAN. That is where I started to develop my passion for photography.
Did you have a mentor that guided you?
I did a lot of my work on my own, but when I took classes at USDAN in high school my teacher Kathy always had great project ideas. She would teach me how to see through your camera and how to see different textures. She would always come up with these different ideas for photographs that she had seen and projects that she had done. She was really passionate about it. I learned from that and realized it is always best to surround yourself with people that are passionate about what they do. Also, my parents were a huge influence on me. My mother does ceramics and now she is doing jewelry making and my dad did sculpture. He was not a professional artist, but because of his appreciation for the arts, he always took me to art openings and creative places. Every weekend we would go someplace new, we never stayed at home.
How does New York City inspire you?
Here in New York City art is everywhere. There are so many creative people. I go to art openings all the time. On Thursdays I go to Chelsea and on Sundays my boyfriend and I go to museums. I work at the Brooklyn Museum and that is a huge inspiration for me. I have a card that allows me to go to any museum for free. So I take full advantage of that. With so much art always in front of me, it inspires me to do my own thing.
Do you have a favorite spot in Brooklyn that inspires you?
I love the galleries in DUMBO and its waterfront. I love the bridges, especially the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. I ride my bike over them in the summer. They look surreal. I like the feel of the water underneath and the tall buildings above. It is so picturesque. I also like Grand Army Plaza, the Library and its wonderful gold doors. Also the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Zoo.
Your models have a lot to do with your works, how do you get them to do what you envision?
I am very inspired by nymphs and goddesses-like figures. They have a delicacy to them but they also have this strong, powerful presence. They might look very small and gentle, and their poses might suggest that they are vulnerable or playful, but they are mischievous and do strange things like changing the landscape. I try to look for those types of qualities where my models are innocent looking but still have strength. Their dress also adds to that delicacy. I have this book called “Jazz Age Beauties” from the 1920’s and 30’s and their poses are very feminine and always holding their face like a mask. I always have that book with me when I am doing a shoot. The model’s personality has a lot to do with it as well. After working with them for a while you get to know what works well with what they are doing, and what I am after. They are also creative thinkers themselves and that helps.
What visual artists do you like?
I like Francesca Woodman. She did self-portraits and they are kind of spooky and have a weird presence. She was a weird character and I think it came across in her work. She did figures in landscape in black and white. She started when she was fourteen and her book has those early photographs. She committed suicide when she was 22. No one knows exactly why or even knows much about her, but her photos remain and they are so expressive. I also like Anne Brigman. She was part of the Pictorial Era and that style was very influential on me. She would pose nude women in the landscapes. It was all about making photography into art. This was in the early part of the 20th century. People didn’t think that photography was art. That it was only for documentation. They would put Vaseline on the lens to get that obscured like image. Having perfect image wasn’t important rather just the idea of the image. She would search out these amazing trees to put her models in and these incredible spots in nature. I also like Magnum Photos. I like to get lost on their site and look at these creative whimsical ways of displaying the entire world.
What do you want people to take away when they see your work?
I want people to realize that they don’t need computers to make something surreal and magical looking. People today rely to heavily on Photo Shop. I love Photo Shop and digital art, but it is not my personal choice I prefer film photography. I want to remind people that the world can be very interesting and whimsical and you can find weird places that are already there and exist. So I want encourage people to see the surreal.