Interview: Madeline Dignadice

There has been a lot of talk about self portraits this week (check out the Ultimate Guide to Taking Self Portraits and enter our recent Challenge: Self Portrait) so we thought we would dig a little deeper and sit down with one of our creators who specializes in self portraiture, MASTER | Madeline Dignadice.

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Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? What are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not photographing? 

I am a fine art photographer currently based in San Francisco. I am originally from Santa Clarita, CA but moved to the city to study fine art photography at the Academy of Art University.  

I am passionate about experiencing life and sharing it through art. I'm aware of every emotion I am feeling so I can capture it and share it, hoping to connect to others through my art. 

 When I am not photographing myself or nude friends, I am outside walking around or indoors watching films. I believe watching films help photographers understand putting emotions into the visual. For a simple shot in a film like "In the Mood for Love" that has an amazing composition can say so much without the words to guide you towards a feeling. 

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How did you get started in photography? 

I thankfully fell into photography, first as a hobby but soon became a passion and a way of self-expression for me. I received an athletic scholarship for cross country and track from the Academy of Art University, and I chose to study photography because it sounded the most interesting to me. Years later, I am very happy I made that choice because this medium has shaped who I am today. I use photography as a way to understand myself. I have trouble verbally communicating how I feel and so I turn to photography to just document what I feel. It isn't until after, I can start to see and understand what is really going on within. 

Playing with light, color, and movement your self portraits are emotional and curious. What is your inspiration?

My biggest inspiration for self-portraits is Francesca Woodman and Nan Golding. Two very different styles but both very impactful. Francesca Woodman created this dark and intimate world within her images. I feel as if she really documented her emotions, often using motion blur. Her images carry this sadness you can feel within yourself as if we are getting an intimate view of her mind. For Nan Golding, her style was more documentary but just as intimate and emotional. Showing you more details that were easier to understand on the surface but challenges the viewers to take a real look into someone's life.

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Why self portraits? Why use yourself instead of a model?

I tend to photograph myself when I feel like I'm losing myself; when I'm forgetting who I am. It's odd, but when I photograph models it is when I am trying to express how I feel but when I photograph myself it is in search for myself. I believe that we are all highly influenced by the people the social media we surround ourselves with. I have to remind myself of who I am and I go back to my "roots", setting up my camera and self-timer creates a space that is totally free and allows me to be totally vulnerable.

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Do you have any advice or tips for fellow photographers who want to take self portraits?  

-Photograph yourself alone and make space for yourself. Move the furniture around, follow the natural light that is leaking into the room and set up your camera. 

-Play with the space around you. Due to my small SF apartments, a lot of my self-portraits were in a corner next to a window. That confined corner let me be creative with the two walls around me. Challenging me to try new things for different shots. 

-Use your wardrobe or not at all! I like to photograph myself with loose and flowy fabrics. This is another element for you to interact with and adds to the simple details of your image. Or use your body in various poses from different angles, don't be afraid to get close to the camera. 

- I usually put on some of my favorite records when shooting anything! When I am taking self-portraits I usually listen to slower music that helps me slow down and work through the process. 

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