You’re very young. How and when did you start experimenting with photography?
I’m fifteen years old. I discovered photography as an art form by pure coincidence a little more than a year ago! While spending my daily hours losing my time on the Internet, I once fell onto Flickr, a photo sharing website. Seeing other young people’s self-portraits, concepts and manipulations made me want to try my own way at expressing ideas. At the time, I had basically never touched a real camera! But I quickly made my mother teach me, and very soon after that, I started experimenting a lot and taking random pictures of myself. However, my goal always was to learn to translate certain feelings visually, and that quest is still actual.
You wrote, “Photography plays a very big part in my magic recipe of happiness.” That’s lovely. Can you explain?
Ah! I always fail to give the feeling justice. Learning photography was also learning to really live; it gave me back the eyes of childhood. You know, the ones that fill you with wonder at all the simple details of the world! And now, it has sort of become a drug; I need it not only to be happy but to stay sane, I’ve become addicted to the feeling of accomplishment, of freedom, of seeing my ideas slowly take shape; it’s a real therapy. Now as soon as I’m not creating anything, I tend to feel like I’m just losing my time. Taking pictures is also an excellent pretext to get out in nature and be active, which is something I would never be otherwise!
You started a 365 day project. What is that and how has the experience been so far?
A 365 is a popular project born on Flickr, that consists in doing a picture every day for a year, in my case self-portraits and often, concepts. And how it’s been so far for me… A terrible, terrible mess, actually!! I started the project at the end of October, however I’m only at seventy pictures (half way from where I should be). I just don’t have nearly enough time to do this kind of thing, but above all, I take it way too seriously, like I can’t stand posting a picture if I’m unhappy with it.
Though I was doing fine in the first weeks of the project, with progress came the development of my ideas and the need to go further into editing. I still think this project can do wonders to some people, but it’s not something I would recommend to everyone. It personally drove me crazy. Because of it I would stop having a life besides my pictures, I wouldn’t take the time to be curious and to experiment new things. I took a ton of delay and with it comes a terrible feeling of failure. BUT, I must admit, it boosted my level in a record time, it helped me get confident and even more passionate, and even though it’s a big stress it’s still a very fun time all the while. So if anyone’s got a certain amount of time for themselves, and wants to do something really valuable and life-changing with it, this kind of project is absolutely the thing to do.
As a young photographer, where do you get your inspiration from?
I tend to differentiate two things within the term inspiration: creative inspiration, and influence. The first one is completely essential to anyone that calls themselves artist; it’s about ideas or just personal “impressions”, of ourselves or the world. It’s found in all kinds of places. For me it can come purely from the mind, just as it can be triggered by a place, a beautiful light, a song, etc… Influence on another hand, comes from the other people that create. And all it should be is a personal and diverse combination of favorite photographers that has a certain impact on the way you approach your inspiration when bringing it to life. This is so important because people mix the two so often and end up with no personal style and ideas that are not really theirs.
Anyway, that said, let me tell you yes, I have a big collection of amazing people that I look up to! In fact, if it wasn’t for them, I probably never would have gotten into conceptual self-portraiture in the first place! My three favorites are certainly Brooke Shaden, Lissy Elle Laricchia and Oleg Oprisco. It’s hard to imagine that’s it’s even possible to be so amazing, and their work and words constantly revive my love for photography. You should definitely check them out.
Do you have any other projects planned for the future?
The future in terms of photography is still quite unclear – which I consider a good thing! Apart from doing the album cover of a music trio at the end of April, I feel like I’ve still got heaps and heaps to learn, so for now I especially want to stay personal and experiment on the most things possible. And of course I’ll continue to bring concepts more and more sophisticated to life. Starting photography was completely life changing in such an amazing way, so you’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of me in the future!
Ella Campbell is 15 years old and lives in Geneva, Switzerland.