CHC: Well hello there, Heidi. How are you doing today?
HH: Today is like all days, I am so grateful for it!
CHC: Brilliant! Let’s begin with the basics, how did you get started with photography? Was art always in your background?
HH: While growing up I was constantly exposed (no pun intended) to my father’s lens. He was a great photography enthusiast, always searching for new equipment or the best buy in film. I am now in possession of the many photos he took while serving in World War II overseas, during the time he spent traveling as a comedian with “The Major Bowes Amateur Hour”, and of course the thousands of family photos he took. My entire family is creative. My sister, Jane Simonson is a fine art painter, whose works have been shown in various galleries and museums. I couldn’t (and still cannot) draw a stick figure. I knew what I wanted to express on paper or perhaps even in words, yet I just didn’t have that gene. This, my favorite photography quote pretty much sums that up: “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things in words.” – Elliott Erwitt
CHC: When did your photography really come into play as a serious passion to pursue?
HH: Around 5 years ago, I was constantly taking poor quality pictures with my blackberry (ancient!). Everywhere I went, I documented events as they happened in my life, in order to preserve my memories. On one particular birthday, my kids bought me a “real” camera, a ‘point n shoot’ so that at least I could have better quality pictures.
That was it for me. I signed up for lessons, upgraded to a DSLR, added lenses, more equipment, more camera bodies, even more lenses, and went out on the streets.
CHC: You photograph the everyday. Why People, the title of one of your series? How do you relate as the artist to your subject?
HH: You are correct I photograph the everyday. In my series, People, I look for a ‘story’. I don’t necessarily care what the “true” story is, as I am not a photojournalist. I relate what I call a good photo to a good ballet. I have been a patron of the New York City Ballet for over 30 years. The reason I adore the ballet so much is that for the most part, there is no “story”. Unless it is intended to have one, such as Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake, (which I still love to see for the pure athleticism of the dancers), but those are not nearly as interesting or fun for me. The same holds true in my photography, whether it is of People or of the dolls in my Mirror Mirror series. The normal stress that comes with everyday life will show on people’s faces and body language, good and bad, whether it is because they are rushed, busy, hot, cold, hungry, tired, happy, distraught, in pain, frustrated because they have to wait for something or for someone, or excited because they are waiting for something or someone!
Rarely do I find a relaxed human on the streets of New York. I relate more to people on the beach. The beach is a wonderful “street”. The public beaches are so much fun for me because there is so much diversity, from very young to very old, the eccentrics, the vast array of body types and so many tattooed bodies! It is their “day off”, time to relax, maybe meditate, exercise, play or simply sleep.
CHC: Your series Mirror Mirror is all about the use of Barbie in eerie, mysterious, evocative and humorous situations in your works (please feel free to agree or disagree), I ABSOLUTELY ADORE these photographs. From what I’ve previously seen as what I like to call “Barbie Art,” I have never been so entertained and fascinated, even in the most mellow situations pictorially. How did Barbie enter your oeuvre? Why Barbie? What does this plastic ICONIC doll mean to you?
HH: Are you sitting down? With all due respect to Mattel © and to collectors, the Barbie doll means absolutely NOTHING to me. [CHC SURPRISED!!!] I do not collect them, “iconic” and as beautifully made as some of them may be. I do not keep the boxes for the “future”. I am not promoting the doll as a product. I do not see the doll as anything more than a plastic “model” that I use to represent the emotional side of me. I find some of the dolls have just the right facial expression or body language that I can maneuver to meet my needs for a certain message I want to send photographically.
CHC: Explain how you shoot your Mirror Mirror series if you don’t mind. Do you pick out which Barbie you will use, choose the location, and have an idea of what you want the picture to turn out like…or do you bring Barbie somewhere with you, have your camera and just go with the flow?
HH: I use both methods, and sometimes will combine the two. A shoot can take anywhere from half a second while on the run or “in the moment,” to weeks for the staged pieces, where I conjure up an idea, make sure the lighting is just right, the props are proportioned well, and the doll in use is clean and ready for work! But, I always have a camera with me anyway, and more often than not, depending upon the day, there will be a random doll in my bag.
This is an example of an unstaged, “I happened to have the right doll in my bag” moment. I had to work out the right proportion, hand and leg position, lighting all of the faces and direction of movement in a matter of seconds while holding my camera steady with one hand. Very difficult!!! The “story” here is as if she is trying to “blend in” with the crowd, which apparently, she did, as not one person even noticed what I was doing. This is telling of what New York City is, to me. People are distracted by nothing other than themselves. -Heidi Horowitz
CHC: Unlike your “Barbie” photographs, do you stage the photographs you take of those in your People series? Do you ever interact with the people before of after you shoot, or is it all about the story the picture tells, and for people to leave the rest up to their imagination?
HH: I never stage a photo on the streets. As I mentioned previously, I am not actually interested in getting to know a perfect stranger’s story. That is none of my business, and it is not my job to report. It is more fun, and way more interesting to me to have the viewer make that up in their own mind, based upon all of the elements that go into a shot.
I normally do not photograph children, but sometimes it is necessary. This is about the interaction between the small child and the large adult, both dressed in costume, but only one of them knows that. As I saw this scene unfolding I literally ran to catch up to it. The “story” I made up in my head was this adorable little girl thinking “OMG I think I just saw the real spiderman! Nobody is going to believe me!” And she is utterly amazed that he is looking directly at her, as if to say, “Yeah, kid, it’s me. Don’t you worry, I am watching out for you.. go ahead and take your daddy trick or treating..and by the way, “Nice job on the feathers.” – Heidi Horowitz
CHC: Who would you say are your artistic idols? Whether it be iconic artists, photo journalists, family, anyone…Moreover, whose works do you admire most and draw inspiration from? Do you have a muse?
HH: My most influential artistic idol is my sister, Jane Simonson. Because of her, I was surrounded by art in some form or another throughout my life. There are so many artists that I admire, and I am thankful to have made some amazingly talented friends in the photographic community, but I especially look up to Lori Nix, who’s creative process requires enormous patience, as she not only builds her own sets, but then photographs them in the most beautiful way, each one depicting a sense of emotion, without the use of a doll! David Carol, my teacher and mentor, has been incredibly inspirational to me. He introduced me to the “world of photography” as he himself lives it. He has had me study lists upon lists of who’s who in photography, past and present. If I am in a “slump”, he takes me on “field trips” to places I’ve never been, makes me run to “get closer” to a shot, and reminds me to check my exposure! Whether it is below freezing or stifling hot outside, we will walk and shoot for miles, and at the end of the day I will have learned something new, not only about photography, but about myself.
As for having a “muse”, yes I do have one. Me! I use my own PERSONAL life experiences, whether happy, sad, dark or funny, as inspiration for and representation of ALL women.
CHC: Where can we find and purchase your work?
HH: Some of my work can be seen on my website, Facebook or Instagram. Although, there are many more photographs that I do not choose to show online, I always try to arrange a private showing of my work when requested. Each photograph is produced in limited editions usually of only 12, signed (en verso) and numbered. Sizes will vary, but the Mirror Mirror series always shows best when printed 30” x 40” or larger. All inquiries can go to my “contact” page on the website to email me directly.
My work has also been featured in: Rangefinder Magazine, December, 2013 issue, Best of 2013 ‘Our Pics of the Year’ page 68, also featured as the background for the ‘Contents’ page; Musee Magazine, issue #2 page 47; Musee Magazine, issue #2 page 82; Lenscratch “Family” Exhibition; Lenscratch “Toy Camera” Exhibition; Lenscratch “Backyard” Exhibition; Lenscratch “Summer Fun” Exhibition; Musee Magazine’s Instagram “pic of the day.”
To see further through the eyes of Heidi check out:
Facebook: HEIDI HOROWITZ PHOTOGRAPHY