Border Crossing: Where do you get your inspiration from?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).