DARYA KOSILOVA—Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you? What did you have for breakfast? What was the last interesting dream that you had? What makes you sad?
BRIGETTE BLOOM—I’m a person who enjoys living. I have a coyote for a neighbor, my eyes change colors in the sun – I think everyone’s do – and I smell like rosemary because I was just rolling some in my fingers. I turned 27 last week. This morning I had fresh-squeezed orange juice, oatmeal, a few bites of a pear, and a couple licks of honey. I really like breakfast! And food!
The last interesting dream I remember took place in Alaska. I looked out the window of the car and saw a humpback whale and its baby right by its side. They were both stuck in telephone wires, which made them look kind of like they were suspended in mid-air. The ocean was nowhere around. The snow had gotten so high it pushed them to the very top of the wires. But everything looked like it was made out of papier mâché. I felt like I was made out of construction paper too. It was all a pale blue. As we were driving past I kept turning my head to watch them, and at the last moment I saw them wiggle their way out and dive back into the snow.
Going to the fridge and realizing I ate all the blueberries makes me sad.
DK—What kind of equipment are you working with?
BB—I usually only use two cameras – a Nikon FM2 and a Polaroid Spectra.
DK—Word on the viral street is that you experiment with some unusual photography and development techniques. Could you share what some of them are? Anything new that you would like to try out?
BB—Yes! I pee on my film. Sometimes I get strange looks from people when I tell them my method, but it works great! And it’s free! Basically, I just like to experiment with different film soaks and damaging my film to get new effects. It can be anything from lemon juice, wine, soapy water, or just tossing it in the dishwasher and seeing what happens. There are literally endless techniques I want to try out! I’ve been dreaming of having my own darkroom for years – one day I will and it will be magic! I really want to get into large-format photography. Shooting with an 8×10 camera, wet plate, cyanotype, pinhole, chrysotype process, salt paper, emulsion transfers. I want to try it all! I also want to make huge prints that cover the whole wall and paint them. I think that would be a fun collaboration too!
DK—Are concepts like accidents, chance, lack of control things that you value or even seek out purposefully in your work?
BB—My work is all about embracing the unknown. I like not knowing quite how things will turn out and I kind of let my photos take on a life of their own. In the beginning, I wasn’t seeking anything out purposefully. I was just experimenting because it was fun and I liked creating something I hadn’t seen before. The more I work this way, the more fascinated I’ve become with the process.
DK—You initially started out as a documentary photographer. Your work since has shifted into more of a conceptual narrative. Why do you think your perspective or approach has changed?
BB—It’s funny because my work is the exact opposite now. My photos keep changing as I change. It’s fun to look through my older photos and see how much growth has taken place. My work just mirrors the place I’m at in my life at that time. It will constantly be changing, developing, and evolving.
DK—What kind of storytelling goes on in your mind when you are shooting or developing stories? You have stated in the past that you reference your own dreams often.
BB—I really don’t go into shooting with stories in mind. My process is basically just seeing what unfolds when I get there. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to create but I’ve learned from my experience that it never turns out the way I imagine it. So when I find a spot that feels right to shoot at, I set the camera up and it turns into this dance. I never plan out what I’m going to do anymore, I just set the self-timer and intuitively go with what feels right. It’s such a freeing and therapeutic process for me.
I’ve always been drawn to my dreams and I love weaving them into my photos. Lately my work has been so personal but it’s also led to something else. Now I see my photos expressing the realization that this life is only a dream. It always makes me laugh when I’m going around being so serious about something because I’ll have these glimpses that everything really is an illusion. We make life serious and it’s not. Life is playful and fresh! We’re all here for such a short time, experiencing this weird and wonderful place. If there is anything I want to express in my photos right now, it would be to enjoy life! All of it! The highs, the lows, the pain, and the ecstasy because that’s life! Enjoy it now, because one day we’ll all be gone.
DK—How long have you been living in Nevada for? It seems that you have really taken advantage of the desert landscape within your photos. What kind of visual and emotional connection would you say you have with the desert?
BB—Well, I was actually born here. The emotional connection I have with the desert is about coming full circle. As a teenager I was trying everything in my power to leave this place. When I was kid I loved the desert, but as I got older I kept focusing on how unbearable the heat was and how it wasn’t lush and green like the forest. I kept feeling that the desert was this place I needed to escape… to go onto bigger and better things. It was literally like the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”
But coming back to where I started, with new eyes, is what changed everything. I’ve had a complete shift in the way I see it now. This place is spilling over with beauty and a mystery that I could never put into words. I feel like I step into another world once my feet touch the dirt. The desert is alive! I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to come back and experience that. The desert has been my greatest teacher and I have such a deep respect for this land. There is also a humbleness that wasn’t there before. The book I just published is a tribute to this desert. My home. The truth is that the desert has always been a rich and brilliant place. It amazes me at how much I didn’t see before. The desert never changed – I changed.
DK—Based on your series Here and Gone it seems that you travel quite often. Why do you constantly relocate?
BB—I’ve always loved to travel and experience new places. But I’ve realized that another part of why I kept relocating is because I was running away from things in my past that I didn’t want to face. It was kind of that mindset of, “Oh, this place will solve my problems.” But the fact is that no matter where you go, you bring yourself. You can’t escape your fears by moving and I know that now. Plus moving all the time gets exhausting.
This year has really been a self transformation for me. I just had this turning point where I woke up and realized that I wanted to face everything I’d been afraid to look at before. I’m still in the process but I am really getting to the root of my past fears. It’s been terrifying and blissful all at the same time. As far as traveling; there are so many places I want to explore and I know travel will still be a big part of my life. But I’m also looking forward to putting some roots down and being part of a community, most likely by the ocean.
DK—Tell me about your companion. I’m referring to your beautiful dog that appears in much of your work.
BB—Leo is a little bit of everything all rolled into one. He’s goofy, stubborn, sensitive, charming, gentle, a little moody – I swear he’s half cat – intuitive, clever, mellow, funny, mischievous. I could go on and on! Every quality in Leo, even the ones that frustrate me, I’ve come to love because every piece and aspect of his personality is what makes him, him. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better dog.
DK—Can you talk a little about your relationship with nature and animals? How do you as a woman and as a photographer connect with Mother Nature?
BB—I am a part of nature so I’m always connected to it. We all are. Ever since I was a kid I’ve felt the deepest connection to animals. There is just a knowing there. I don’t know how to put it into words but looking into their eyes instantly feels like I’m looking at a kindred spirit. I couldn’t live on this earth without animals. I spend most my time in nature because that’s where I feel most at home. Nature is like my refuge. I know I have a place to go to recharge, feel inspired, and tune in with a higher energy. It’s the place where nothing needs to be done. You just come as you are – listening to the wind blow or feeling the sun’s warmth on your face. Anytime I’m feeling stressed, I just take off my shoes and walk on the rocks and my heart feels lighter. I think it’s so important to have places like that, no matter where you live. Being immersed in nature soothes me. Whether it’s the desert or the ocean or a garden… It’s where I come alive!
DK—I think one of the most appealing things about your work is how feminine it is. The female form is a continuous visual theme throughout your images. What does it express to you?
BB—I do a lot of self-portraits, mostly because I’m always around! I think the female form is so beautiful. Actually, I think every form in its natural state is beautiful. And I want to celebrate that! It saddens me that as a culture we’ve become brainwashed to the point that people are actually ashamed of their own bodies. That’s when you realize something is extremely out of balance. We have been given these magnificent instruments to experience the world in, and we’re afraid of them. I’m not saying that everybody should be going around taking nude photos, but more that we should accept and embrace the bodies we’ve been given.
It honestly amazes me how meaningless things like body hair is still shocking to people. Why is this even an issue? Sometimes people shave their pits, and sometimes they don’t. Let’s celebrate our differences, and realize we are all the same! Our lives and connection we have with others stems directly from the connection we have with ourselves. It’s more valuable than anything on the outside world. I feel that being disconnected from yourself is the greatest tragedy. Basically, the female form in my photos expresses the freedom, celebration, and connection I feel to everything. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things to be comfortable in your own skin.
DK—Tell me one thing that very few people know about you.
BB—When I was a little kid, my only dream in life was to be a dog. You know when adults tell children that they can be anything they want when they grow up? I believed it. And I knew 100 percent that the only thing I wanted, was to be a dog. I went through this phase where I would bark at anyone who came to the door and would refuse to eat my food unless it was off the floor. I think I used to growl at my brother and only respond to the name Sprinkles.