Showcase: Patty Maher
Patty Maher is a fine art and conceptual photographer located in a small forest just outside of Toronto, Canada.
” My favourite place to create is somewhere in the line that separates reality from the purely magical. I see what is there, and then I try to imagine what could be there – what story could be told with a location that might not have been told before, or might not have been told in exactly that way. I love the process of making the invisible, visible.”
Patty is featured on the cover of Tell Me A Tale short story anthology book published by Fluster and Armida.
Interviewed by Giulia Bertelli
Hi Patty… I just had a look at some of your pictures and I’m already in love with your work.
So now I have to start asking questions.
First of all: where do you live? Is it a magic place?
Thanks so much! I live in a little house on two acres of forest in Caledon Ontario and it is definitely a magical place.
Your life is photography and…?
Well I make my living working for a publishing company so that takes up a lot of my time. The great thing about that when it comes to photography is that I travel quite a bit with my job so I get the opportunity to photograph in different places and I’ve been able to meet up with some photographer friends when I’m on the road. I also have an amazing husband who I love spending time with and some very inspiring friends.
Are your photographs selfportraits or portrait?
I mostly do self portraits although I try to do them in a way that they don’t specifically look like me – using costumes. Recently I’ve had some great opportunities to work with friends who are willing to model for me which I really enjoy.
Why do you never show any face in your pictures?
I like the anonymity that comes with not showing someone’s face. I think it makes the story of the photograph more open and the viewer can write their own meaning more easily into the story being depicted.
How do you come up with your ideas?
It happens in a number of different ways. Sometimes I find a prop or location that inspires me and I start from there, other times I get an idea and then try and find a way to depict it. On occasion when I have no idea at all I just go out with my camera and see what happens.
Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
I have always loved photography but it was only a couple of years ago that I picked up a camera and gave it a real try. I wasn’t really sure if I would stick with it, but I ended up falling in love with it and have been going ever since.
It seems that the nature is important to you and your work. Is that so?
Yes definitely it is. I feel very lucky to live in a place where I’m surrounded by nature and it has become an integral part of my photography.
What comes first? The photos or the titles?
Every once in a while a title comes first, but mostly I take the shot and then title it later. I sometimes find it really difficult to come up with a title because I don’t want to close a photo off by making its title too specific.
It seems that the seasons are an important element for you and your work. If so, why is that?
Because I live in Canada the seasons play a major role in what I do. I really love the fact that the landscape changes so dramatically season to season – it’s like nature offers up a whole new theater to create in every few months. In the winter it becomes a little challenging because it gets so cold here and I really have to remind myself not to stray too far from shelter and not to stay outside without a coat and gloves on for too long. Luckily this winter was warmer than most so I was able to spend a good deal of time photographing outside.
When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you want to do?
To be honest the very first thing I want to do is have a coffee, but once I’ve done that I usually want to get out and take some shots. I tend to get up very early and the morning is an amazing time to photograph because of the light. I love being able to start my day that way when it’s possible.
Why did you start to put your photos on flickr?
I found flickr by accident and I thought I’d try posting my shots there. At first I didn’t get any comments so I wasn’t really sure about the point of it, but after I got a DSLR camera I found that people started commenting and interacting with me a lot more and I really found it to be a wonderful and supportive photography community. I’ve learned a lot from the other photographers there and I’ve even made a few friends whom I’ve met in ‘real life’.
Do you have any future project in mind?
Yes – I have a number of people lined up to work with over the summer and I’ve got some themed projects in mind. I really like the idea of creating a series of photos around a particular theme so I’m looking forward to those.
Will you ever want to live in any other forest?
I’ve never met a forest I didn’t like so I am pretty sure I would be happy to live in any forest.
(Images © Patty Maher)
More of Patty’s work here