Interview with Rob Macinnis
BIFA 2022 Winner, 1st Place, Professional Nature category, “Tidnish Mountain”
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you come to fall in love with photography?
I was born in 1977 and raised in Nova Scotia. I can’t say when or how I fell in love with photography. I think it was always just there. I didn’t discriminate between television and photography. I remember as a kid seeing photographs and thinking they were like tv shows but just quiet and still. I think I always wanted to mash mediums together and when I’m asked what my influences are, they often vary between composers, directors, and scientists.
Q: Could you elaborate on how you took this award-winning picture? What was the main concept and what was your process for creating it?
This is my latest photographic composition in my ongoing series called the Farm Family Project. The animals and much of the background was taken over many years in various locations around North America. The culmination of many hours and many tested variations, resulting in an impossible scene one finds themselves desperate to believe is real.
I wanted to create scenes that we long to believe are true, with the knowledge that they simply cannot be, creeping in the background. In our age, what is true and real is ever-more difficult to ascertain. Farm animals exist a part of our society but are always kept hidden from view and only ever portrayed as an object of amusement. Highlighting this tendency, I hope to encourage a re-evaluation of our relationship to them.
Q: What does receiving this honor entail for you?
Receiving this honor, I feel much of what every photographer feels when their work is recognized. Joy. And I thank you. I hope the honor encourages more viewers to take the work seriously and consider its value, as more than just an entertaining trick but an offering of critical perspective on our understanding of both animals and the tools we use to portray them.
Q: What other photographers’ work, practices, or styles have had an influence on your own?
It is not just photographers that inspire me, but Martin Parr, Andreas Gursky, and Tim Flach to name just a few.
Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and John Baldessari are more my speed in terms of tone and interests. I also must always cite that I grew up obsessing over Steven Speilberg and Robert Zemeckis.
Q: Photography is a great medium for communicating various messages to people. What are your thoughts on this tool and how do you use it?
Photography truly is a tool of great honesty. But in that statement lies a conundrum because with every seemingly truthful document of reality we make, the photograph tells a thousand lies. I find the world and the tools we use to express ourselves confusing and paradoxical, and therefore I obsess constantly about them. It was always my interest to portray animals in a more honest way than had been done previously, and the only way I knew how to do that was by making fictions.
Q: What difficulties do you think photographers face today?
I’m really not sure. I used to think that the democratization of photography, the ease of taking and “sharing” photographs, had made it very difficult to stand out and be noticed. But in recent days, I’ve found there to be so much repetition in the images I see online, that it almost seems easier, that if you have something different, it will stand out even more. But photographers also must learn to roll with the punches and embrace new media as it comes along.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your projects?
I find inspiration in any person expressing themselves in an honest way.
Q: What would the setting be for your ideal photo shoot? Do you have any tools or accessories that you must include?
Ideal photoshoots are when everyone involved is happy. That’s the main concern. Fancy tools and accessories are always useful and can help defend from unhappiness. But also keeping things simple is always the best rule of thumb.
Q: What are your future plans? Are you presently engaged in any intriguing projects that you can share with us?
I just sold out of the first edition of my monograph, The Farm Family Project, but I’m preselling the 2nd edition which is being sent to the printers now. (Can be ordered at FarmFamilyBook.com) That’s taking up a great deal of my time!
I’m also in an experimentation mode at the moment. I like to roam completely free to see what starts to stick with me before I concentrate. Once I’ve locked into a decision about a project or photo, I can become extremely single minded, which is good for production but bad for creativity. I hope to be sharing soon.
View Rob Macinnis’s Winning Work Here.