The freelance Detroit-based photographer Megan McIsaac has been shooting since her childhood. She tells us not to fear the darkness; her photography is about opening your mind to the senses and allowing for unexpected opportunities. Also, founder of the community Inspired Women of Los Angeles (IWLA), Megan supports every woman wanting to be inspired and involved with art. We spoke with Megan about her photographs, her community and her future.
Where are you from and based?
I’m from and currently based in Detroit, Michigan.
When did you get into photography?
I’ve been interested in photography since before I can remember but received my first camera as a gift when I was seven.
Do you remember the first thing you photographed?
Some of my earliest photographs, which I still have, are of my childhood dogs, my siblings, cousins, parents and grandparents, and myself.
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Could you please explain the messages you are trying to communicate through your photographs?
There are many messages in my photographs, most of which I don’t even understand until some significant time has passed. What I communicate to myself relentlessly is this: Do not fear darkness, for, without it, we wouldn’t know the majesty of light. Trust your intuition. Open up, breathe deeply, and listen with all of your senses to the world around and within you.
Have you got a favourite camera?
Not currently, though I’m drooling over the new Hasselblad X1D (but can’t afford it yet). I’ve been shooting 95% analogue for the past seven years, and am finally super interested in what the digital world has to offer. The cameras I own at the moment include a Mamiya C300, Olympus OM-1, Olympus Stylus, Yashica MG-1, a few Polaroids, and a Stereo Realist, which I am dying to test out.
How would you describe your photography style?
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You often consider yourself as lucky, why?
(Laughs) While I’ve not been without serious challenges in my life, I’m well aware of how privileged I am. I hardly ever know what I’m doing, I fuck things up all the time, yet for some reason or another life has continuously given back to me. Everything in life is a gamble.
You seem to be really inspired by the 1990s, could you tell us where this inspiration comes from?
(Laughs) I was born in the summer of 1990, so it’s just ingrained in me. I picked up my first camera at the start of that decade.
In 2013, you launched Inspired Women of Los Angeles (IWLA) to spotlight and share the work of numerous artists because you thought women as artists were not recognised, right?
That’s part of it, yes. I started it in May 2013 by sending an open invite to all of the women artists I could think of in Los Angeles and asked what we could do to help each other feel more inspired, to get more work and more representation in galleries and online. We started hosting events and collaborating with other local communities, like LAMP, and we have a private group on Facebook with over twenty thousand members.
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Do you think you have accomplished your objective with this blog?
We’re still working on our website, which is amazing. There’s no end point for me; to be in a community you have to be very active and willing to engage with people all the time. As artists, our survival depends on our ability to engage with the world.
Why did you choose Los Angeles? Is this town a source of inspiration for you?
I moved to Los Angeles (from Portland, Oregon) in 2012 when I was twenty-one. I lived in an RV (recreational vehicle) on the west coast for a year, and never expected to stay in Los Angeles. This city gets you high unlike any other, you’re constantly surrounded by all walks of life, and it lends an incredible background for photographing. I was surrounded by an enormous mountain range, the Pacific Ocean, and high desert. When I moved there I only knew a handful of people through the Internet, but found artists everywhere I went. I have no problem in making friends, and I love photographing them and making introductions.
Tell us, what’s next?
I’ve had these past three months to ‘return home’ and just work on my insides. I almost burned myself out and was feeling down for a while. Fortunately, some wonderful projects landed in my lap during the transition. I’m here in Michigan to be with my family and to get back to nature and to photograph and work with the communities that first inspired me. Detroit is magnificent, and I’m dying to listen to its people. I’m editing a book I’ve been dreaming about, but haven’t decided whether to self-publish it or ask around yet. I’ll also go back to Los Angeles as often as possible, for work and pleasure, of course. I’m eternally asking the universe for unexpected and interesting opportunities.
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