Interview with… Linda Brownlee

Photos by Linda Brownlee

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Irish Photographer Linda Brownlee lives and works in London.  
She graduated from a communications degree at Dublin City University and went on to study art & design.
Since moving to London 6 years ago, her portraits, documentary stories, and fashion work has featured in numerous international publications such as Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Nylon, & The Guardian.  She is currently exhibiting at the printspace on Kingsland road as part of group show focusing on the extended portrait. – You, Me and Everybody Else.  She has work featuring in an exhibition at Nottingham Museum this July. 

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How was your life before you started to be a photographer?
Well I studied media at DCU in Dublin, at the time I was considering being an actor, perhaps a radio producer,
and I had notions of being a sculptor too!

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How did you decide that you wanted to be a photographer?
I was doing an art diploma to pursue the idea of sculpture after my media degree and during this time, I started to take a lot of photographs of my friends and family, I started to feel really good about my photographs and then went to NYC for 4 months where I met a photographer John Francis Bourke who really encouraged me to consider a career in it. I went back to Ireland and began working with a local photographer, and that was how the journey began.

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How can you describe your photos?
They’re quite intimate, a little dark sometimes, and other people have said there’s something romantic about them.

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When you do a portrait, what do you use to focus on? Witch kind of details?
My main focus is to gain a really good rapport with the person I’m photographing. Once I have that, its so much easier to work on getting something a little special from the meeting. I look at peoples body language all the time, and how they work in their environment.I try not to disturb the natural way someone inhabits their space, but obviously thats not always possible.

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Can you tell us which one it’s your best photo, that you like since today and why you like it so much?
It changes from week to week. This week its a photo of April Parker from the Exhibition I have showing in the Printspace on Kingsland road. Its an image from the last shoot of a series of shoots I have been doing with my neighbours over the past 2 years. April has suddenly turned a corner, and become a real teen, I took this picture when she was in a real strop with her Mum, it was brilliant!

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Do you prefer to shoot inside a studio or outside?
I prefer shooting outside, in location houses and people’s homes. I get bored in studios, I need the excitement of exploring a new space. And I’m very curious about people’s homes!

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What do you think about the streetphotography?
I love it. Henri Cartier Bresson was one of the first photographers that really inspired me, and William Eggleston is one of my favourites. I love the normality, the mundaneness, the surprises, the education of street photography, the subtleties, the craziness, the variety, the grime, the history and the architecture of street photography. Its all there.

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What do you think about the connection between fashion and streetphotography? They are two different worlds or not?
I think fashion and streetphotography work brilliantly together, its a very natural relationship, one inspires the other.

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What about your future project?
I’m currently working on a piece about the holiday destination I’ve been going to for the last 13 years. It’s a wonderful excuse to keep going back to a place I love dearly. I’m doing portraits of the local people scattered around their landscapes and I’m learning so much about the history and gossip on the island! It offers me a whole new perspective on the place, and I’m involved on a completely new level. I’m not just a tourist any-more!

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