Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Joyce Tenneson

Pro Perspectives: Joyce Tenneson
By MOC staff / Published by MOC

Joyce Tenneson talks to MAC-On-Campus about her distinctive style, the importance of a formal education, and what she looks for in an intern.

  • Fine art and portrait photographer
  • George Washington University, BFA and Masters in Photography

MOC: Your work speaks for itself. You have your own unique style. One can almost thumb through a book and say, “Wow that’s a Tenneson shot.” Where did that come from?
Joyce Tenneson: Well, I think that every artist of any note has a signature style and I see it as a thumbprint of the artist, so that an Avedon thumbprint would be different than a Mapplethorpe thumbprint, that would be different from a Tenneson thumbprint. All that comes from, I think, the way we were brought up: our cultural heritages, our family backgrounds, the time that we were living in—you know, all of those forces that make you who you are as a unique person.
MOC: How did you get started? How did you become what you are today?

JT: I guess I was always interested in art history and in reading, and I think, maybe, in people first of all. Photography allows you an incredible access to meeting people and getting to know them, especially portrait photography. I think that’s really what the hook was for me.
MOC: Is a formal education important?

JT: Absolutely essential, but the degree is just the beginning. Young photographers really need to plan an internship of between two and three months with a photographer who’s working in a field that they particularly like, and observe the inner workings of a real studio.
MOC: What do you look for when you talk to people that want to intern for you?

JT: Must haves: technical, digital abilities; studio lighting abilities; and creative abilities. I want somebody who has a lot of common sense and somebody who can think on their feet, who’s a fast learner, a problem solver with common sense. They should have a vivacious personality, or, if they’re shy, they have some other skill that identifies them . . . personality skill. I look for different things in different people—something over and above what you get in a curriculum.
MOC: I see that you are now shooting digital using the Leaf Mamiya ProDigital camera. Why that one?

JT: For many reasons. I’m using it because I’m mainly a portrait photographer. I can get feedback immediately during the portrait session, which is extremely helpful. I deal a lot with celebrities. Their time is very valuable and as soon as I feel that I’ve gotten the image that I want, I can stop shooting. It’s invaluable from that point of view. The quality is so superior. I used to shoot great negatives and then scan with a top-of-the-line scanner. Now I’m finding that the quality that I get just directly from the Leaf Mamiya ProDigital is of the highest quality. It saves steps and also saves time with my portrait.
MOC: How do your clients feel about this digital switch?

JT: I think a lot of them had poor experiences earlier on with technology that wasn’t really up to snuff. I think those that have worked with this new technology, they actually want it.
MOC: So they’re seeing some benefit to it?

JT: Oh yes. We’re very pleased with the results we’re getting and with the feedback we’re getting from our clients.
MOC: Have any advice for aspiring photographers?

JT: I would say to them to choose the field that they really feel passionate about in photography. To be great in anything takes a real commitment of time and energy, and it really is not possible without a passion for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.