Originally published for Bleach Online: A Motley Crowd:
Witnessing a photograph by Ellen Jane Rogers often feels like attempting to solve an impossible puzzle or looking into the labyrinth of the complex mind of a genius.
The London-based photographer seems to capture scenes of something mysterious and titillating that brings the voyeur out in anyone who views them. Having received her master’s in photography at Goldsmiths College, young Rogers, only 27, has accomplished a lot as a fine arts fashion photographer from being published in i-D magazine to being interviewed by numbers of reputable publications.
Her technique remains a secret, but I was happy to have gotten a glimpse into her persona and soul with this small interview with the photographer.
When did you first discover your knack?
To be brutally honest, I still don’t think I fully understand the knack. I think the knack is quite like an automated response to what you work on; I still have to dig deep to get what I want. But perhaps I have developed a knack on a personal level in regards to pouring my insular feelings into my work.
When you dream, what do you often dream about?
My dreams are never exceptionally nice. I think they absorb my angst, sexuality, deepest fears. There is a lot of black fog.
Artists typically echo their life experiences through their art; how do your experiences resonate in yours?
On a superficial level they reflect my obsessions with female beauty, but in terms of analogues, I could be literal and say there are direct references to my life experiences, like my mother dying. I mean, I could argue that everyone I have encountered in my life has helped to shape a semantic mantra that my art work is lead by, but what artist doesn’t have a personality that will affect their work? Can one exist without the other at all?
What is your favourite part of the photography process?
I could definitely tell you my least favourite! I hate to scan the work in, I have something in the region of 100 scans to do a week, this can become quite monotonous. I think having them complete and seeing them in print is my favourite part.
In models, what do you look for?
I do a lot of castings at modeling agencies to find a girl who is comfortable with herself; I don’t like shooting girls who seem self conscious. It doesn’t translate well in my images. I guess I am looking for someone who seems quite empowered. At the same time, they must be versatile enough to act as the blank canvas any director will need them to be. I have seen other girls look entirely different when shot by other photographs, because good models have to be able to act as a vessel for the directors’ visions.
My muse Hana is the perfect balance. For me, she is beautiful, strong, adventurous and perfectly acts the part she is cast in. I think she has mastered the art of empathy and is intelligent enough to emulate what I seek to portray.
What is the question you find people asking you all too often?
What techniques do you use? What camera do you use? What film do you use? The answers to these questions are hard earned. To suddenly give them away to anyone who asks seems inappropriate.
Is there a sort of exhibitionist undertone to your photos? (Not necessarily in a sexual sense but of the soul)
I think my work is an inversion of myself yeah.
Do you aim to capture a sense of reality or surreality?
I consider it to be a continuous narrative, not one that exists, but one I can add branches to give roots to. So I guess in that sense they are my own tales of fantasy, not so disconnected that that might be surreal, at least not to me.
What kind of spaces do you find yourself the most productive or inspired in? Rural, urban, cluttered, empty?
I feel much more comfortable in a cluttered environment, some with many textures and things to stimulate your mind. I think, also, I have a predilection to certain buildings and eras that inspire me.
What songs are on your "life soundtrack"? Songs that you can go back to again and again.
Rachel's Music for Egon Schiele is one of my favourite albums.
Ellen recently came out with an 80-page photo book designed by Prizme. It can be bought on her online store.