Remember by Jude McConkey

Through the Viewfinder

All of the art featured in this issue is the work of Jude McConkey, a fine art photographer who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When Jude McConkey looks through the viewfinder, she sees things that others do not, and her photographs draw us into an intense dream world.  We were stunned by the dreamy, often even creepy images in her photography portfolio. Following the images below, Lloyd Eddy, our art editor, asks Jude a few questions.

 

Snow and Lace by Jude McConkey
Snow and Lace by Jude McConkey

 

Greeting the Pink Moon by Jude McConkey
Greeting the Pink Moon by Jude McConkey

 

Harbinger of Storms by Jude McConkey
Harbinger of Storms by Jude McConkey

 

Remember by Jude McConkey
Remember by Jude McConkey

 

Tree Faeries by Jude McConkey
Tree Faeries by Jude McConkey

 

Dear Teddy by Jude McConkey
Dear Teddy by Jude McConkey

 

Silent Orchard by Jude McConkey
Silent Orchard by Jude McConkey

Border Crossing: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Jude McConkey: I’ve never been able to say that inspiration comes from music, or outside influences similar to that.
Environment is about the only outside influence. It took years to figure it out and it really was quite simple:
Inspiration comes from what I see when my imagination and a subject meet.

 

BC: Are there any artists that you were highly influenced by?

JM: My style isn’t like either of these photographers, but my favorite ones are Diane Arbus and W. Eugene Smith. I used to be a painter and I think a lot of the atmosphere and painterly look of my work can be attributed to that medium.

 

BC: How long have you been working in this style and how did you come upon it?

JM: I became interested in photography in 2004 and joined an online photography group called Pbase, where I started a Photo A Day project with some other photographers. It really helped me to look for subject matter daily. I also paid attention to certain aspects of any photograph I liked so I could figure out what it was that drew me to it. I learned that I love vignetting around the edges of photographs because the light in the middle pulls the viewer into the image. When looking at my photographs, I would [see] stories immediately… Spinning that story is part of the process I like the most.

 

BC: How would you describe your artistic process and how big of a part does that play in your work?

JM: There are two types of photography I do: fine art photography, and images for book covers. My fine art photography consists mostly of flowers, landscape scenes, a lot of trees – I’m obsessed with them. With those I drive around and look for scenes that stand out to me. A story of something – maybe a desolate house that used to be alive with voices from families that lived there. I work with Photoshop to use layers of textures or whatever I think will enhance the image to become what I “see” in my mind.

For the book covers, I purposely create photographs that I think will be accepted by the two image libraries that show my work to publishing houses. This method involves me writing down ideas I have, sometimes drawing out the detail. It is almost always a set-up photo shoot, with the exception of a bit of luck in coming across something unusual.

BC: How did you get into art?

JM: I used to do pen and ink sketches, then moved on to oil painting. Art was on hold while my children were young, but once they were all in high school I started to search for something creative to do. Painting and drawing weren’t satisfying any longer, so I tried many other mediums. It wasn’t until 2004 that I decided to give photography a try. I knew right away that this was what I was looking for. Ironically, my father was photographer but I had never considered pursuing it.

 

BC: Were there any exterior influences in your life that had a large impact on your work?

JM: The biggest exterior influence is where I live. Trees, water, and lots of snow. Those things guided me in what I could shoot. I couldn’t do street photography, nor could I do a lot of photojournalistic style either. I was the photographer for the Sault Evening News for six years, but still, most of that is not the big city kind of photojournalism. I started to see just everyday scenes and subjects that were beautiful – things that we pass on a daily basis but don’t see because we’re too much in a hurry. I think that was the biggest influence for the bulk of my work. Then there are the photos I take that are a little more haunting. I’ve always liked that mysterious, creepy, Tim-Burton-esque style of images. Dead flowers, a girl trapped in a bird cage, what looks like a bloody handprint smeared on the wall, all sorts of subject matter in cemeteries.
It makes me smile (and makes my mother worry).


JudeMcConkeyJude McConkey has always dabbled in the art world in some way – as a painter and a writer – but it wasn’t until 2003 that she picked up a camera and realized her passion. In 2010,  she quit her day job as a newspaper photographer to sell her art online and in galleries. Using Photoshop to enhance her work, she creates dreamy, intense, and yes, even creepy images full of emotion. Her photographs and jewelry can be purchased online or at Sault Realism in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.