Interview by Mia Kingsley
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year, sorry for the little break between interviews but for this week we have Francesca Jane Allen who is really special (worth the wait!).
Francesca is part of the uprising talent in young female photographers, her work is fresh and inspiring, full of colour and intimacy. When I look at Francesca’s photography I feel the images are so personal and find myself wanting to know the story behind each and every one. Miss Allen is 20, she grew up in Cornwall but travelled a lot when she was younger. Now studying at the London College of Communication, living in London and taking awesome photos, meet Francesca Jane Allen…
So how did you first get into photography?
I’ve never been patient enough to paint or draw, photography seemed like the most logical medium to work with.
What is it about creativity, taking photos and making art that attracts you?
Taking photos is kind of instinctive now I guess, I’ve stopped thinking about why I do it, I should probably try and remember. I don’t know why creativity is so attractive to me, it’s quite therapeutic to do things with your hands and eyes instead of your mind. I love painting really big stuff with spray-paint, like chairs and bicycles.
Have you always been creative?
I was more obsessed with maths and languages growing up but I’ve always made things. I used to make earrings and sell them at school fairs but I didn’t pick up a camera until I was about sixteen.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I feel like it’s quite obvious that I’m a girl from looking at my pictures.
What are your biggest influences?
I think my biggest influences are the people I’m surrounded by, I’ve ended up being friends with a lot of other girls who are photographers and artists and I admire their work a lot. It pushes you to be better I think. You see your friends making this amazing stuff and you realise there’s no reason you can’t do that too. There’s a whole generation of girls who are making work about girls for girls and I’m so proud to be a part of this.
Tell us about your travels from this year, Mexico and California must have been a dream to photograph?
It was insane, everybody keeps asking me about it and I never know what to say. Mexico was amazing but I didn’t really photograph it as much as I could have, the culture is so different to my own that I didn’t feel I had a right to be photographing it, nothing belonged to me and it wasn’t correct for me to appropriate it, does that make sense? As a photographer you have a big responsibility, I don’t want to take photos of children on the streets and place that out of context, I don’t know their story and it isn’t mine to tell. California is basically my photo-dream; I love big empty landscapes and tacky diners. I lived there when I was younger for a while so it was weird going back as an adult. I’m still in the process of working through all the pictures I took when I was away, I want to do something cool with them like a show or a zine, it would feel like a waste to just put them on my blog.
Your current project focuses on girl culture, tell us about it…
I’m looking a lot at intense relationships between females, girl gangs, cults and the concept of an all female world. I’m planning a staged documentary series that I will hopefully be shooting in the spring. I’m really into the work of Justine Kurland right now and I’m enjoying studying a subject rather than just going out there and taking the pictures without thinking. I’ve been really dissatisfied with my work lately; I’ve just been churning out the same crap I’ve been making for years. It’s nice to step back and think about things for a while.
Do you think your gender influences your work and the way your work is received?
Definitely! I’m reading a lot about this at the moment actually, about the responsibility of female photographers to their female subjects. I could take a photo of a girl looking a bit sexy and it would be deemed intimate and honest but if a man took the same image it would be received in a totally different way, but it’s still the same image. I’m photographing a lot of really young girls right now around the ages of thirteen and fourteen, if I was a guy maybe their parents wouldn’t let me, who knows.
Your photos I feel are really personal and intimate, what is it about a person that makes you want photograph them?
I just want to photograph people who can be themselves in front of the camera, whether they look uncomfortable or awkward or confident and sexy I don’t want anybody to pretend.
Tell us what would make your dream shoot?
Amazing locations, maybe Iceland? I love huge landscapes, I want to go back to California, I felt like I could carry on making things there for years. Californian suburbia is so beautiful to me. I wish I could drive, I would just save up a bunch of money and go on a big trip with friends. I think I just want to hang out with great people really, fashion doesn’t really interest me.
What’s next for you Francesca, what can we look forward to at Cooler?
Right now I’m trying to finish my degree, after that, who knows? I’ve been working on the images from travelling in the summer and I also made a short video so I would love to put on a show. But I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow so let’s wait and see.
Thank you so much Francesca! We wish all the luck for this New Year 🙂 If you want to check out more of Miss Allen’s work here are a couple of links:
But until my next interview for more ‘Mia Meets…’ or more Mia Kingsley: