Maura had a definite idea for her a story. During down time on commercial shoots she would often take portraits of the people on set, working with what was readily available, an apple box to sit on, a black foam v flat as a background and natural light. The images often unintentionally had a “religious” feel, soulful expressions teased with heroism, sometimes sadness and vulnerability. She thought to incorporate our linen into this series.
How did you incorporate Two Dawson linens into your portrait series?
I took the portrait series to another level when I shot the linens. I wanted to really push the old masters/religious outcome that I so love. On the shoot, once again my daughter, Oona helped me immensely, we just started piling the linens on our subjects and kept moving them around until it started to feel like something photographable. The image of my daughter just blows my mind in how madonna-esqe she became.
You say Brooklyn is your address but Maine is your home?
I’ve spent all my summers in Maine, visiting my grandparents at their house at the beach. We were really lucky, being from NJ, to be able to get out of the heat in the summer and spend weeks there. My parents, when they retired, moved to the house they had inherited from my grandparents, full time, so going home became going to this wonderful cottage at the beach in Maine. I was incredibly lucky to be able to buy my own house a few houses down from my parents about 5 years ago. My two sisters have also bought houses on the same street so our family, which is now 20 people strong, has this lovely family community that, no matter all our different ages and stages in life, we all gravitate there to be together. It’s a generational love affair with the place. Corny, i know, but it is like that old adage, home is where the heart is...holds so true when it comes to Maine. I’m currently working on a book on Maine homes.
Do you remember your first photo?
I remember a photo I took early on that made me feel excited. I was a working prop stylist at the time and really wanted to be a photographer and I went to a camera store and asked them for a rental Hasselblad for the weekend. I was so embarrassed that I had to say quietly, “and can you include the instruction manual.” I bought a few rolls of 1000 ISO color Agfa film which had some grain to it, which I’d seen in fashion magazines at the time and I thought it could be a cool effect in interiors and still life, which is the kind of photography I wanted to do. I got home, petrified to have this equipment now staring at me, judging me, laughing at my audacious desire to be a photographer. So I took out my knitting, watched some tv, did the laundry, read the paper….ANYTHING to not have to face this very scary challenge…regretting all weekend long that I wasted the rental money. I was petrified to pick up that camera!
Since I was a stylist, I tended to have little still lifes all over the house and I kept giving side long glances at a small table in my hallway. It began to glow for me as the sun moved west in the sky. OK…I said to myself, put down the damn knitting needles and I got out the camera and took the picture. just one. I was all alone in the apartment but my heart was pounding and it was all I could manage to do. I returned the equipment on Monday and went to a lab and had the one roll of film developed. The image, of a small table with a white cloth over it and some assorted objects atop it, framed by the hallway door, shot with Agfa …. took my breath away. I bought a Hasselblad that very week.
Favorite photo of all time?
I have an image that I consider to be perfect…it is of my daughter when she was about 11 or 12 and we were bored at home on a dreary weekend in Brooklyn. I said, well let’s have a photo shoot! She took over the styling job and I got out my camera. She scoured my closet and took out this ancient vintage gold taffeta dress. Since she was her age and such a girlie girl…she had to put on makeup…but with a decent hand, not too much. She had an old faded fabric rose in her room and put it in her long red hair. I had her lay down on this dark fur bean bag chair and stood above her and took her portrait. It’s perfection. She does look like a young woman in an old master’s painting. I think it was the beginning of my series of portraits of people on black.
When/where are you happiest?
Sitting on the sofa, with my daughter’s head on my shoulder, watching a movie. We love that. But I’d also have to pick the weekend of the 4th of July….I’m always in Maine and I pinch myself all weekend that it’s just the start of glorious summer!