September 26, 2014

Spotlight: Rosie Brock

Peas in one really beautiful pod.

What does it mean for something to be one in a series? Do you stand out from the others, bold and different, or do you fall seamlessly into line with your other mates and yet at the same time, lose a bit of your personal identity? What about both?

After looking through photographer Rosie Brock's images of sometimes woeful sometimes joyous girls, sometimes clad in party outfits with balloons floating behind or sometimes in a what-might-be bleak parking lot, I've discovered what I believe a series should do. Each image, though striking and unique in its own way, converses with one another, ultimately building a narrative that trails throughout, heightening a concept or emotion that pulses through you as you flick from picture to picture. Looking back now on my experiences with fishing through series of images, I can see I've had similarly sentiments, but never before has this conversation between photos been so readily apparent.  It's like reading a book, almost.

Perhaps this is because Rosie admits to devising her images almost as film stills, each one connected to the last and the next, though undeniably furthering the message, the story, the emotions, whatever else. And it is working so, so well. We spoke with Rosie about shooting your friends (shooting their pictures! their pictures!), her favorite themes and who she'd shoot in a perfect, undead world.

THE LE SIGH: When doing a shoot, do you have certain concepts or shots in mind, or do you let things happen naturally? Both?

Rosie Brock: For shoots, I always have a specific concept/visual goal in mind. I like to meticulously plan out all aspects (clothing, models, color scheme, location) in my sketchbook and make an accompanying moodboard. However, I’m a lot more spontaneous in regards to actually shooting; I usually just go with the moment and take images as they happen. I always pretend I’m taking stills from a film when I shoot, which I think allows me to be free enough in the process, while still maintaining my original idea.

TLS: Your images are not just photos, but combined with other media like gems and glitter, and turned into makeshift collages. What do you think these aspects add?

RB: I think the mixed-media/collage element adds more of a stylized voice to the narrative. In my opinion, the vintage advertisements, landscapes and gems/glitter help to clarify the generally nostalgic, youthful mood I try to evoke with my purely photographic images.

TLS: From the way you've structured your website, it also seems the collages are a newer form of your work, under the category "latest work" (I'm a detective, can't you tell?). Is this a new direction you find yourself heading in? How did you begin experimenting in combining various mediums?

RB: It’s definitely a direction I really want to continue in—I’m hoping to further develop my mixed-media process and technique. I first became interested in collage because I was feeling inspired by a lot of mixed-media artists, as well as a bit frustrated with my work at the time. The first collage series I did was a few months ago, during late winter of my senior year in high school. I was feeling particularly angsty and wanted to make this sort of tongue-in-cheek, vaguely humorous series called “It’s My Party,” inspired by the 1963 song by Lesley Gore. I had this book of ads from the 1950s-60s, and the images inside had always really appealed to me, so I used them as a starting point for my entrance into collaging. For “It’s My Party,” I shot a series of photographs, printed them at a local drugstore, and then just went crazy on these prints, using the ads and a bunch of miscellaneous glitter/sequins.

TLS: What sparked your interest in photography?

RB: When I was about fourteen, I went to this art summer camp because I was really interested in creative writing. There was this older girl in my class who was a really talented photographer and I was just in general awe of her because she seemed so different from anyone else I had ever known. The fact that photography was her “thing” was so intriguing to me; I’d never encountered someone around my age who was interested in it. Anyways, I think that brief encounter subconsciously laid the foundation for me to timidly begin shooting “glamour shots” of my sister and friends during freshman year. Eventually, when I was sixteen I started to look at a wide variety of photographic artwork that completely changed my perception of what photography really can be, the purpose it can serve and just how versatile of a medium it is. That’s when I really fell in love with it and began to view it as something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life.

TLS: You're 18 and now studying at an art school in New York City, a big, new and awesome step for your photography career, I'm sure! What do you think/hope school will do for your work, process, vision, etc?

RB: Thanks! It’s very exciting, but also quite overwhelming at times. I’ve been living here for a little under a month and I’m still definitely getting acquainted with everything. I’ve dreamed of living in New York since I was about nine years old, so it feels nearly surreal now that it’s actually become reality. As for school, I hope it’ll help me create on a more consistent basis and further push my conceptual limits. I think being in this environment will expose me to new work and ideas that in turn will inspire/influence me. I’m excited to see how my process and style will evolve.
TLS: What themes do you most like to explore within your work?

RB: Most often, I focus on themes of youth/female adolescence, escapism, as well as a sense of identity or transition. I think the themes I explore are sometimes visually subtle, but each photograph in my more recent work is definitely related to a specific emotion or mood I’ve experienced in the recent past. For example, my “Lost Girls” (inspired as a female take on Peter Pan’s “Lost Boys”) series is all about transitioning from a sheltered and relatively stagnant childhood-adolescence stage, to “the real world.”

TLS: A lot of your images depict familiar faces--are these models your friends? If they are your pals, what complications or difficulties does this present, if any? Or is it mostly one giant/awesome girlfriend party?

RB: Yep, they’re my girlfriends! I find that I tend to produce better images when I have a strong personal chemistry with the subject, so essentially all of my models are also my friends. As for complications, I’d say they’ve been quite minimal (luckily)—the people I photograph are pretty easygoing and willing to dress up and run around parking lots or whatnot for me, which I’m very thankful for.

TLS: If you could photograph any lady from all of history, dead or alive, who would it be? Where would the shoot take place?

RB: Oh wow, that’s a really wonderful and tricky question. I’ve been scrolling through my “Things I Love” folder on my laptop for the past fifteen minutes trying to figure out an answer. Okay, so this might technically be cheating but, I’m going to have to say that I’d most want to photograph an ensemble of girls, all characters from my favorite books or films. I’d have the Lisbon sisters from “The Virgin Suicides,” Christina Ricci’s character from “Buffalo 66,” Marlo Thomas from “That Girl,” and maybe a few others. I would shoot them on a really elaborate set; a life-size version of an 18th century Parisian children’s puppet show booth. And they’d all have really absurd, campy props like, huge paper mache flowers and moon/sun scepters.

See more of Rosie's work here.

Written by Molly Morris