Photographer Esme Mai has been a creative presence in the city of York for many years, standing out as a unique visionary through her striking, beautiful photography. We chat to her about what makes her tick - and click.
Q: How did you get into photography?
A: I’ve always had a love of imagery and a few years ago a photographer friend [Andy Gaines] asked me to help him out. That day I had a realisation that I could turn something I enjoyed doing into a creative career…so that’s what I did!
Q: What and who have been your main influences?
A: Andy has been a huge inspiration and mentor. I try to make my work my life and take inspiration from everything around me; one way I do this is by surrounding myself with inspiring things and creative people. Another thing I like to do is to make sure I get out of town at least once a month and put myself in new environments and expose myself to different art and culture.
Q: Could you talk us through the current series? What inspired it?
A: I used to work as a costume designer and I found some great pieces at the York Theatre Royal costume hire that I instantly knew I wanted to use for a creative shoot. I asked a local York musician [Kat Louise McCabe] to model for me as I knew she’d be great. We chose the beautiful surroundings of Farndale as our location which is a very familiar area to Kat and we spent the day there taking photos. The shoot was very relaxed and I gave Kat little direction. Luis Márquez and Ellen Rogers are two great photographers whose work I admire and I think their influence comes through in this series of work.
Q: What do you shoot on?
A: I shoot mainly with digital SLR cameras; Nikon is my brand of choice. I’m a big fan of Polaroid cameras too and I like to shoot with film occasionally as well as digital. I’ve recently started experimenting with adding paint and collage to my photography which I’m really enjoying.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My focus is to continue having a career that I’m passionate about and at the same time expand my knowledge and creativity in the field of art and photography. I’m going to Australia for a few months next year so I plan to take advantage of the opportunity and arrange some destination shoots.
Q: How long is this current show on and where?
A: Some of the shots from this series are currently being exhibited at the York Picturehouse on Coney Street and will be showing until 10 June 2015.
You can follow Esme for now on her Facebook page while her website is being updated.