Q: Hi Missy, welcome to Pellicola! Introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi Pellicola. My name is Missy Prince. I grew up on The Gulf Coast of Mississippi and moved to Oregon in 1991. I studied Philosophy and Literature at some college a long time ago. I design landscapes when I’m not a photographing them.
Q: Tell us how you discovered photography. Do you remember when and why did you start taking pictures?
I went through a few uninspired phases over the years. It wasn’t until around 2006 that it really started to make sense. I can’t say why I began taking photos, it was just something to do. When I started getting photos that I actually liked I was encouraged to keep it up and it grew from there.
Q: In your shots you show the reality as it is, nothing sweetened. What are you looking for when you go out shooting?
I’m looking for looking’s sake. Beyond that I’m looking for things that contribute to the feelings I have about a place. Lyrical scenes, deadpan reality, simple beauty, whatever strikes me as worthy to draw a rectangle around. As I pass through a place I hope for small surprises. Ideally I’m learning something about the way people live, however trivial, and feeling the pleasure the world showing itself.
Q: What feature should have a person to make you think you want to take a portrait of him or her?
There must be something about them that helps define their environment. Hopefully not in a stereotypical way, but in a true expression of place. The more generic a person is the less interesting they are to me… unless their generic quality is descriptively useful.
Q: Is there any connection between what you photograph at and the inner you?
Most likely. I only photograph what I’m interested in.
Q: What does attracts you the most of desert landscapes?
The wide open spaces, the light, the sparse human presence, and the inhospitable beauty. It’s always possible that the desert will kill you quickly, quietly, and without remorse. That tension between beauty and dread appeals to me.
Q: What do you like about Polaroid film?
The painterly way it interprets light. It’s refreshingly less literal than straight film. I also like its immediacy compared to regular film. Having a physical print is such a big part of my drive to photograph. I am not totally satisfied until the print is made. Polaroid closes the loop quickly… and beautifully when it works. It’s nice to have those quick rewards sprinkled throughout the otherwise pleasantly maddening suspense of the film process.
Q: You’ve visited a lot of places around the U. S. A. . Can you tell us any funny or odd anecdote of your photographic trips.
I was followed by a creepy guy in a truck while driving through Kansas. It started at a gas station, continued through a few towns, and finally ended in Kansas City at a Federal Building guard shack. I took many random turns and ran a few red lights but couldn’t lose the guy. He even almost ran some cars off the highway to stay on my tail. This was before I had a cell phone so I couldn’t call anyone. It was quite scary but I finally got rid of him. I always wonder what his intention was, but I’m glad I never found out.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects?
I’m not really the project type. I’ve got a handful of ongoing very open-ended fixations, mainly based on place: The Desert, Mississippi, The Northwest, The West in general. The world is so full of constraints. Photography is my escape from that. That said, I might be working on a small book this year.
Q: Missy, thank you for finding the time for this interview. As last question, would you suggest a film or an album to our readers.
Sister by Sonic Youth always delivers.
All images © Missy Prince