09 April 2007


Another interview from the archives of the Ramble Rocket project. It's amazing to see how far some of the contributors have come since 2005. Polly's published works and awards listing has grown disproportionately to the time that has passed and she deserves it. Her work is gentle and strong, consistently great, and always interesting.

It should be noted as well that Polly was one of those who has been and continues to be a great support and inspiration for me. And here's the interview:

Polly, to start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am currently a photographer for the Texas House of Representatives and I live in Austin, Texas USA. On the weekends I make pictures for myself!

What training do you have? How much of what you know is self-taught?
I have a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Southern Illinois University. What’s interesting about how I got my degree is that I don’t have an undergraduate degree in photography but in graphic design. The program I got my masters degree from is known for accepting students with degrees in other areas and so I feel lucky to have been able to create a thesis show without much of a background in photography.

"...keep shooting, even when you feel like you don’t have time or don’t have any money"

What equipment do you use for your work?
My favorite camera is my 4X5 and I use it a lot, but I also shoot with a Mamiya RB67 using a Polaroid back which gives me a square image. I have been using a Polaroid Land camera lately as well and I love it!

How did you get started in photography?
While I was in my final semester of my undergraduate education I was required to take “photography for design majors” and I fell in love with it. After graduating, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri, but couldn’t stay away from photography and signed up to use a local photography lab and continued to shoot.

Any advice for those out there would like to get started in photography?
I think if something is truly a passion, then all paths will lead to success in it, although it might not be a monetary success. My advice would be to keep shooting, even when you feel like you don’t have time or don’t have any money. You do have time and you can find a way to get the image made. It’s like anything else, you have to practice and hone your craft to get to the level you want to be at.

What are you feelings about film vs. digital?
I feel like digital is simply another tool or option in photography-not necessarily meant to replace film. I still love film!!!

Who are the photographic artists that you admire the most and why?
There are so many photographers who inspire me, for example, Robert ParkeHarrison and Matthew Welch. I appreciate a lot of photography, but when an image evokes a visceral reaction and makes me think “wow, I would never have thought of that”, is what really makes a lasting impression with me.

"Many of my images are not meant to represent reality but rather more of a dream; emotion or memory..."

Who are the non-photographic artists that you respect or inspire you?
I love the author Chuck Palahniuk and I’ve read almost all his books. I really love movies and I think David Fincher’s films are great (the cinematography is beautiful). I also love Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

How do you approach the creative process?
Photography is like a relationship for me in that it grows stronger in time, I try to cultivate it and work on it even when times are hard. I think about it all the time and there are times when an idea comes naturally and other times when I have to put a lot of effort into it.

What's that beautiful melody?
Sometimes it’s jazz and sometimes it’s a ballad.

Are there any other artistic disciplines that interest you/that you would like to do?
I really enjoy silk-screening and I think I would like to try film at some point. I think cinema and photography go hand-in-hand.

What are the top 5 websites you admire/visit the most?

  1. www.matthewwelchphoto.com
  2. www.seankernan.com
  3. www.singergallery.com (to see Michael Garlington’s work)
  4. www.walkerpickering.com
  5. www.marktucker.com

When working, what makes you decide between making use of color film or not? Is there a clear purpose for each?
Many of my images are not meant to represent reality but rather more of a dream; emotion or memory and I feel that B&W lends itself to this way of working. Sometimes my choice might simply be about visual aesthetics, the scene might just scream color!

Where would you like to see yourself and your work in 10 years?
I hope to eventually work for myself doing editorial, commercial and of course, fine art photography! What I hope for most of all is to continue to feel passionate about making pictures, and I think I always will.

Thank you, Polly.

Polly Chandler Wiki

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