Maryanne Gobble is a photographer from St. Louis, Missouri and primarily shoots black and white photos, or to speak the truth, she converts her images into black and white. Ted Grant once famously said, “When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!” That’s why many photographers believe that monochrome aka black and white photography reveals true beauty of the person or a landscape and removes distraction caused by color. Maryanne Gobble gives a definite style and appeal to her monochrome images. We know that a lot many young photographers scoff at the idea of shooting monochrome but we’d suggest they start experimenting with it and it’ll sure make their work better. Maryanne’s monochrome work is praiseworthy and here she’s telling us about her life and work:
I was born and raised on the Oregon coast but currently live in St. Louis, Missouri. By the time I was in high school I began to realize my style of learning is largely self taught and visual. Reading has been a large part of my creative process. When I’m not at the library I’m likely to be found exploring the outdoors or fiddling in the kitchen. I seek out a lot of solitude to balance my inner life which is on the lively side.
I took photos in various genres until about five years ago when I made the switch to personal work. It was the best decision I’ve made for a multitude of reasons, especially how it frees me up to spend time with my family. For a long time I was convinced that other photographers were advancing in their field because they had separate work/family time. Or the parents who stayed home only took pictures of babies. I didn’t want to be viewed as the dreaded ‘mom with a camera’. It was silly of me, really. Once I got over these perceived limitations I found I had quite a bit of photo time that fits into my chosen lifestyle.
My photo journey has certainly enriched my life. I tend to be rather serious and intense compared to my peers. I’ve been told when I’m passionately speaking I can be ‘intimidating’ or ‘too much’ in conversation. Half the men in my extended family are preachers if that explains my gene pool at all. Speaking through imagery takes the edge off my voice making it a bit more palatable.
And it’s not just my own voice that comes through. I love how photography gives voice to who I photograph. Most of my current work is of my family and I’ve gotten to know them on a deeper level through the process of it all.
I would define my photography as fine art as it’s very much aligned with my personal vision. Within that I dabble in conceptual, portraiture, and landscape.
I’ve just upgraded to the Canon Rebel T5i and use a Tamron 17-50mm lens. Despite some limitations I love the lightweight body of the entry level cameras. My lens is also the perfect combination of weight, versatility and wide angle to fit my needs. Wide angle fits my mind’s eye.
What would you call your biggest achievement in photography?
Don’t laugh, but my biggest game changing achievement was in the 8th grade. My art teacher awarded me artist of the year. This was years before I picked up a camera but it gave me permission to identify as an artist very early on.
I’m really sensitive to light quality and tonal value. Artificial lights such as florescent bulbs physically drain me to the point of nausea and headaches. While it’s a negative trait in my daily life, it’s a huge asset in my photography. I have both a physical and emotional reaction. Having said that, I still shoot in many situations where the light is not ideal. I’m often at the mercy of my family’s schedule so I make due. In a perfect world I would shoot the majority of my work in the early morning when the light is soft and the roads are empty.
I am blown away by the amount of talent pouring out of the photography community. It’s unbelievable. Recently there has been a lot of focus on the age of the photographer, especially teenagers. While it’s exciting to watch people discover their talent so young I worry that we are boxing them in by defining them by their age. Also, some of the older emerging artists have expressed feeling left out of the conversation.
This along with the internet culture is not helpful in letting our work mature. The publish button is too accessible. This is something I struggle with and am working to remedy in my own work. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a balance.
When I lived on the West Coast finding places to shoot was easy. Where I live now I have to dig a little deeper. Finding historical or cultural context makes the scene come alive in my mind. A list of things I have or plan to research in my area are nuclear waste, Native American culture, Huckleberry Finn, and learning the names of native trees. If I can keep my curiosity alive I always seem find a new place or idea to shoot. Sooner or later something clicks. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Google maps.
Right now I’m focused on defining my style and living fully in the moment. I’m less concerned with monetizing my work. I’m investing my creative energies in art as a lifestyle while my kids are young. It has to be of value to my whole family. If it doesn’t make me a better mother and spouse it’s not worth it.
In the future I would like to work on long term intimate projects or anything with a sense of outdoor adventure. A dream project would be to backpack Northern California’s Lost Coast. Even better if I could document a surf trip at that location. I love surf culture.
I’ve particularly been inspired by writers writing about their craft. It’s just far enough removed from photography to give a clarity of concept in my mind. I’m more concerned with a narrative or feeling in an image than technical perfection. I recently read “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, and found it inspiring.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I’m a worker by nature. If I approach photography as work rather than a hobby it energizes me. I create small goals I can reach a sense of completion with to mentally propel me forward. Blogging helps in this matter. It gives a finality to an idea so I can move on to the next.
Yes! Don’t forget to live. Photography isn’t life, it’s just a tool. The moment photography becomes your absolute everything is the moment you have nothing useful to say to the world. I love this quote by Albert Einstein, “It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”