Photographer’s Eye: Flynn Larsen

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Flynn Larsen: Family

Following our intro to photographer Flynn Larsen in These Five Things, we take a closer look at her work, how she got into commercial photography, how being a mum shaped her photographer’s eye, and the project she is doing with her Dad…

There’s a well-known poem by William Carlos Williams that’s a celebration of the everyday, of small pleasures,

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

William Carlos Williams

Image Source RM / Flynn Larsen

Flynn Larsen’s photography has some of that poetic rhythm, images that feel loose, unbound, without ‘punctuation’, a photography in love with the abundant richness of living. Her images sometimes feel like a conversational aside. On her website Larsen describes her photography as expressing “the fabric and feeling of everyday life” and it teems with the seemingly insignificant bustle of everyday life, the friends playing dress-up, the families hanging out and the arrangements of objects that invite the viewer to fill in the surrounding story.

Commercially it’s easy to see the attraction of her imagery for advertisers who want to evoke a naturalistic sense of home (Wal-Mart), community (Colleges and Schools) and uncontrived comfort (W Hotels).

Image Source RM / Flynn Larsen

Larsen’s images are full of the bustle of life, they’re untidy spaces, filled with bric-a-brac, visceral crops, lending her work the visual rhythm of everydayness. A feeling of nothing and everything happening, a kind of lo-fi, indie, Americana.  In our follow up to Larsen’s These Five Things, she explains some of the background to her work.

Image Source RM / Flynn Larsen

IMSO: You were an English Lit major before you studied Photography. How has that informed your work?

Flynn Larsen: I think the word-oriented part of my brain and the image-oriented part are completely different universes in my head, and I’m not sure the ‘word’ part is all that useful in my photography.  It’s helpful in writing things for proposals and contests, and I do really enjoy writing.

Image Source RM / Flynn Larsen

IMSO: The Art Center has a rich history of creative alumni. What’s its photography tradition and what did you take away from it?

Flynn Larsen: I went to Art Center because of its commercial emphasis, and I ended up going there for what would have been another BA, instead of an MFA for that reason.  To me at the time it was a good blend between art and commerce, and I really just wanted to work as a photographer.  I didn’t have the desire to get too analytical about it.  I wanted a place where I could start to find my own voice, plus learn some nuts and bolts about lighting, equipment, materials, and how to run a photography business.  And that’s exactly what I did there.  The program really showed me how to be a professional – it emphasized presentation, business practices, technical competence, plus (above all, I suppose) the importance of finding your own vision and style.

Image Source RM / Flynn Larsen

IMSO: There are some very evocative words on your website describing your work as being about, “The fabric and feeling of everyday life”. It’s a great descriptor of your images, rich with visual and narrative detail, but very reserved, they feel very tangible. How did you arrive at this approach?

Flynn Larsen: I never would have put it in those words exactly before having a child and spending more time in the domestic sphere than ever before.  I have always been drawn to the poetry of plain old regular things that we live with, but until the past few years I have always gone outward to find those things.  It wasn’t really the main focus of my work before.  Now that’s different, mainly because my own life has more texture and richness than previously.  There are just so many more interesting things to look at, arrange, and play with around the house now, and since I spend so much more time at home this has become my focus in photography too.

Flynn Larsen: Family

IMSO:The subjects in your images feel very naturalistic. Are they friends, family acquaintances? Or are you just really skilled at making people feel at ease!

Flynn Larsen: All of the above!  I do have a lot of images of friends and family on my website, but some are models, and some are “real people” that I have photographed for an assignment.

Image Source RM / Flynn Larsen. Part of Nature Mort series

IMSO:Any personal projects on the go?

Flynn Larsen: I am making a book of the Nature Morte section on my website (and always still adding that body of work), and hoping to do a gallery show of those images as well.

I’m also doing a book project with my dad, who is a writer, called An Autobiography of an Apartment House, about the building where I grew up (on the Upper West Side).  It is 20 photographic portraits (by me) of people who live in the building (some have been there for a LONG time, some are newer tenants), plus short poetic-biographic sketches of each person written by my Dad.  We are currently trying to find a publisher for the book.

To see more of Flynn Larsen’s work on Image Source

To see more of Flynn Larsen’s work on her own site

Flynn Larsen: Nature Morte series

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