Faceless by Patty Maher

Patty Maher is a fine art photographer based in Caledon, Ontario. She derives the inspiration for her photography from an exploration of what stories can be told inside of the theatre of the natural worlds. Working primarily through self-portraiture and portraiture, Patty creates rich vibrant photographs that envision the world in a transformative light.

Where do my ideas come from? This is such a great question. And I believe the only truthful answer to it is: I don’t know.  Not definitively. I think the whole process of creating is a very mysterious one, and most mysterious of all is where ideas actually come from. I have believed for a while that the best ideas are just ‘out there’ floating around and looking for someone to translate them. Because of that, I don’t really consider ideas to be ‘personal’.  Having said that, I do think the process of acquiring or uncovering ideas and then translating them is very personal. So here are a few of the ways I do that.

Some of my photos are an interpretation of something I’m going through in my life. Sometimes it’s a negative experience and sometimes it’s a positive one, but either way if I can distill it down into a word or a phrase then I can often find a visual that will describe it. In those cases executing on the ideas are a bit like cheap therapy and I always feel very satisfied about the process of taking a situation in life and turning it into art.

Then there are the photos arise from a feeling or a mood rather than a clear picture or specific idea. At those times I get this gut sense to just ‘get out there’ and see what happens.  I think of it like improvisation: I give myself a costume, a prop and a location and then see what happens.

At other times I’ve just driven around knowing I wanted to take a photo and come across something unexpected. That’s the beauty of living in the country: everything changes with the season and no two seasons are exactly the same. Sometimes you turn a corner and find a pumpkin patch оr a field of sunflowers.

There are other times where I’ve had ideas that feel very distinctly as if they are coming from someplace else.

This year I have an idea for a series but I am purposely resisting them to see if it’s possible to push the concept a little further. My general tendency is to have an idea and then act on it quickly, so I am interested to see what will happen if I let the ideas cook for a while. My theory is that ideas once had, will gather other, possibly better ideas, if you sit on them for a while - kind of like compound interest. I guess we’ll see if I’m right.

All photos by Patty Maher