Mobile Photography – Streets Ahead Interview with Grace Brignolle

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This week, the Women’s Mobile Street Photography Collective (Streets Ahead) is pleased and honoured to feature Grace Brignolle in our interview section. I first met Grace very briefly on a visit to New York last year. I wasn’t aware of her work until then and I started to follow her on Instagram. Her composition and sense of timing made her images stand out to me, and I became an avid fan of her work.

In her words, ‘the streets are her inspiration’ (see feature in ‘Hipstography'”) and through her eyes we catch glimpses of an array of street scenes around New York city and its environs.

You can explore more of Grace’s work on the following sites:

flickr

Instagram (@icstreets)

Oggl: @ICstreets

Please share a little about yourself…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Self portrait”

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Have you always been interested in photography? Are you (or have you been) involved in any other art medium… such as painting, sculpture, writing, music?

I am originally from Ecuador but have spent most of my life in New York City. At college I studied graphic design and dabbled in some photography courses as well. However, I was never able to pursue a career in either due to motherhood and all of the responsibilities that followed. But I knew from the instant that I was exposed to photography that I just loved it as a medium for composing stories from mere moments.

Which mobile device do you use?

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

Which mobile device do you use to take (and process) your photographs?

The  primary device I use in my photography is the IPhone. I also use a Fuji X100

How did it all start?

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

How did you get involved in mobile street photography? And is this a genre that you predominantly focus on in your work?

My love affair with street photography began with an invitation from my boyfriend at the time, Clay Butch Benskin. He would relentlessly snap pictures all over the city. After seeing his obsession, I decided to give it a try. It was then that I discovered a whole new world. I fell in love with it.  While I do focus on street photography, I also love photographing dogs and ambiguous parts of the body such as legs! It might sound odd, but taking headless photographs can be very intriguing. Yet even in these other forms of photography, I always incorporate my skills from street photography.

Street Photography Ethics…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

There is a general question among some people about the morals and ethics of taking pictures of strangers in a public environment. Many think that this is an infringement of an individual’s rights and privacy. What are your thoughts on this? Has the question about “privacy” been an issue for you in your work? Have you had any negative experiences taking street photographs in your home country or whilst travelling abroad? How did you handle them?

New York is a city where people are constantly taking lots of photos. Generally, I don’t feel that I am invading anyone’s privacy because I usually am still respectful to others. I will never photograph a homeless person or a child simply because I would never want to exploit that person or photograph them in compromising situations.  In the past I have had one or two people stop me from photographing them.  I have even been asked to erase the actual photos and have done so without any hesitation. I totally understand and try to be respectful to the privacy of others.

Personal guidelnes while in the streets…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

Do you have any rules in place when you are on the street photographing? For example: are there certain “things” or situations that you personally feel are “off limits” in your photography? Can you explain why?

As mentioned before, I don’t usually photograph the homeless or children. It can be riské and I don’t want to portray the wrong message in my photography. I use my photographs as a medium to exhibit the beauty in everyday life. It is not to stalk people or make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Personal preferences while on a photo shoot…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

What kind of situations, characters, and/or environments appeal to you? Why?

Usually special events lure me. It is a great way to capture a plethora of unique characters. The Coney Island Polar Bear event on New Year’s Day is one of my favorites.

Women street photographers who have influenced you…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

Are there any women street photographers/photo journalists who have inspired you in your work? If so, who are they? And what inspires you about their work?

Vivian  Maier and Annie Leibovitz  are great inspirations in their own way. Vivian Maier was almost like a ghost who captured so many moments through street photography in an era (50’s and 60’s) when street photography was uncommon. I am also inspired by the style of Annie’s photography; it’s enchanting yet provocative.

Women’s involvement in mobile street photography…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

Do you think that more women are getting involved in this genre because of the democracy and immediacy of mobile devices? What are your thoughts on this?

Photography is a sort of freedom. It is a freedom of speech and a freedom of having a loud voice in a very creative way. The iPhone enables this as it is very easy to use – it is less intimidating than a microphone for instance and allows a woman to be very vocal.

Post processing images…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

What are your thoughts on post-processing mobile street images? Do you post process your own images? Can you share with us an example of your workflow process?

I prefer to not over process photos. While taking the photo I try to use and maintain its value through its organic qualities. However when I do make small changes here and there I use Snapseed. When I take a photo, I immediately look at the elements of the photo. I look for anything that might be seen as an obstruction and I will crop it out if I feel that it is necessary. Afterwards, I might enhance the photo with a change of filter. But I really try to be minimal when processing a photo.

What were your thoughts when you took these photographs?

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© Grace Brignolle, “Lincoln Center Sq”

 

Can you share with us a few of your images that you feel give us good overview of your work… we’d love to hear what you were thinking or felt when you took these photographs. What moved you?

This photo is called ‘Lincoln Center Sq’. When I first spotted the couple I felt an instant surge of questions. How long have they been together? Were they sharing beautiful words with one another or were they in a serious conversation? The way they looked at each other was captivating. It was tender and beautiful. I saw that moment and wished so badly that it was something that I could feel at that very second.

Artistic goals and aspirations

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

What are your artistic goals and aspirations?

My goal is to constantly evolve and simply to get better at this. In addition my aspiration is to be recognized for my daring and artistic ways of photographing. I hope to achieve this by rubbing elbows with my peers and by learning from their talents.

Social Media Platforms…

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

Where do you show your work? What social networks are you on? On which platforms are you most involved?

I share my work on Flickr, Facebook and more so on Instagram and oggl. Through Instagram I can display my street photography while on oggl I can be a bit more artistic and creative.

Anythng else?

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

 

Is there anything that you would like to share with us?

To me STREET PHOTOGRAPHY is a puzzle. “To live a creative life, we must loose our fear of being wrong.” – Jospeh Chilton Pearce

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© Grace Brignolle, “Untitled”

8 thoughts on “Mobile Photography – Streets Ahead Interview with Grace Brignolle”

  1. Grace has been one of the street photographers I admire! I love her work and her friendship through IG. Congrats on the feature.

    Reply
  2. Great feature, Grace! Your style is amazing and I always appreciate the support and encouragement you give me.

    Reply
  3. I came across Graces streets just recently . Immediately knew she was someone to take note of. Spot on street indeed!!! –

    Reply
  4. Always a pleasure to discover new talented street photographer. Thanks for this JQ. I´m really in love with the Lincoln Center SQ capture. Well done Grace!!!

    Reply
  5. Brill! Love all the images – and I appreciate the purity in the processing. So much of mobile photography is really “image” creation, NOT photography. And though I appreciate the graphic design and illustration/manipulation techniques of many mobile creators, I appreciate the pure aesthetics of work like this, which honors the true tradition of street photography at its best. Kudos Grace.

    Reply

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