This week’s photographer answering the five questions that matter is Flynn Larsen. Based in Beacon New York, Flynn reveals her favorite object, favorite books, and shows us her favorite image she has shot, the marvellous Mrs Salomon
Photographer Flynn Larsen lives in New York with her husband and daughter. Her photography, lo-fi, understated, celebrating the unsung detail of everyday life, is echoed in her responses below. Not least in her choice of her favorite picture, the environmental portrait of Mrs Salomon, an image bursting with colour, lived-in-ness and humanity, is there anything more life-enhancing and inspiring for a Friday! Why not try guessing the film moment shot by Flynn with just the contents of her desk.
1. IMSO: A shot of a single object that expresses a powerful memory/event?
Flynn Larsen: Can the object be a photo? One September my husband and I went to Montauk for a few days. The fog rolled in like pea soup, and the landscape became absolutely magical, and looked like a prehistoric landscape, all signs of human habitation absent. I took a bunch of photos, including this one of the path to the beach. The following September, I imagined being back there in the fog, listening to the ocean, as a relaxation technique when I was having my daughter. And now one of the photos from that time is up in her room!
2. IMSO: An image of three books that have inspired you?
Flynn Larsen: I couldn’t decide, so I have four books here:
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson is one of my favorite novels. It is written as a letter from an old father with a failing heart to his young son. Beautiful.
Winterreise is Luc Delahaye’s portrait of Russia in the winter time. It is wordless (mostly), and so intimate and poetically done. It is bleak….very bleak. But inspiring in its storytelling and imagery and just showing these tough lives in an incredibly intimate way.
Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City is an extremely detailed book about what Manhattan looked like before Europeans arrived – what plants were there, what animals, what people, what the landscape looked like. It is as close as you can get to time travel!
Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication (by Kathleen M. Dudzinski and Toni Frohoff). This book is so mind blowing…these two researchers write about their experiences over years or working with wild dolphins, how dolphins communicate with each other, and with humans and other animals.
3. IMSO: Favorite photo you have taken?
Flynn Larsen: This portrait is up there, among favorite photos I have taken. This is Mrs. Salomon who used to live in the building where I grew up (and where my parents still live), on the Upper West Side. I love Mrs. Salomon in the picture, her posture, her expression, but I also love how the composition worked out – all the arch shapes (mirror, basket on the wall and the doorknob, the arch of her cane on the table and in her hand, the back of her chair), and then the downward plunge of the tablecloth. I love the box of kleenex on the table. The plant reflected in the mirror. This was one of those experiences where it all came together in just a few moments and only a few frames of film.
4. IMSO: Favorite artist/photographer/image-maker?
Flynn Larsen: Hard to say – I don’t really have one favorite, but I have always really loved Lee Friedlander, and his images are some of the ones that inspired me to start shooting seriously, and actually try to express something with the camera. I love his sense of humor, the deadpan quality of his pictures, how he uses shadows and reflections. On a different note, I would also put Hiroshi Sugimoto in as a favorite too. His images instill a powerful but quiet sense of wonder, whether seascapes, movie theaters, or dioramas. I get a similar (or related, anyway) feeling looking at his work as I get from reading books like Manahatta or Dolphin Mysteries.
5. IMSO: RECREATE A SCENE FROM YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE FROM THE CONTENTS OF YOUR DESK/BAG?
Guess which film?! Next check in for a close look at Flynn Larsen’s work