Yolanda McMahon is a self-taught photographer from Medford who describes her work as cinematic, dramatic and abstract.
How did you get started as a photographer?
I started photography once a friend of mine in 2010 got a DSLR and we would go around MA finding places to shoot. I experimented a bit with lighting and settings
What kind of gear do you use? Do you have a favorite lens?
I work mainly with my Canon Rebel. I’m not big into the technical side of photography so as long as I can capture a moment, I’m set. (Shout out to Galaxy phone cameras as well!) Some of my favorite photos in low light have been from a Galaxy phone.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the vision I see in a shot. I have a goal with almost every photo, I see the photo how I want to in my head and then work from there. I love making ordinary things look out of the ordinary
You said your work is very “cinematic” and I totally agree. Can you talk more about this? Are you inspired by film? How do you capture the world in a “cinematic” way?
I wouldn’t say I’m inspired by film (I actually don;t watch much TV or movies) I’m more in tune with music, vision and emotion. I like putting music to the mood of my photos and make up my own cinematic world
Do you plan out the entire shot beforehand or do you see what happens in the moment?
I always shoot in the moment. I wish I could plan better actually
What’s your favorite place to take photographs?
My favorite place to take photos is typically outside or anywhere that I can turn into something more than it is. Even subway stations, stairs and hallways catch my eye. It usually depends on everything being “right
Do you edit the images in photoshop once you’ve taken them?
I edit my images in Adobe Lightroom. I’ve been seeing a lot of photoshop work recently, which has its own beauty, sweat and tears. But it tends to lose its authenticity for me
What project are you currently working on?
I feel like I’m always working on multiple projects at once. I usually have thousands of photos to edit that just pop up in my camera roll.
Are there any artists who inspire you? Any photographers you style your work after?
A good friend of mine, Jen Rose @Jenniferrose has always inspired me with her photos and also due to the fact that we share a lot of the same style.
What is the greatest achievement you’ve reached so far as an artist? What are you the most proud of, and what are your goals?
There is a hint of personal meaning in my photos once I’m satisfied with my work. But, I tend not to have a connection to the shot itself, only once I’ve “perfected” it
My most recent achievement has been my first published photos in a magazine (Visual Mag Issue 006) I dont have any strong goals with photos other than doing better and better with my work for myself. Everything good tends to come after that like a cherry on top
What words would you use to describe your work?
I love the neon colors of the people on a dark backdrop. How did you achieve that look? What does it mean to you?
I have very little experience with all things photo, as for the past 8 years I’ve self taught myself everything. The neon photos were shot in my basement with a little color changing light bulb from my room!
From these images I feel like you spend a lot of time capturing your life with a camera, is that a fair assessment? Do you find value in capturing moments or memories?
I originally would always take photos due to my short term memory being not so great. Being a visual person and having photos of certain moments would jog my memory of the feeling I had when I went to go take the photo. If it was important enough for me to capture it in the moment, then I want to keep it to look back on.
Above all, I’d like to add that depth is everything. To pull emotional depth is important. Its understanding others, I guess I’d say I connect more in negative space* with others. Creating a very real, raw, sometimes sad, special and beautiful outlook on the world.
*negative space may sound bad but is my term for the unseen part of our world. Its kind of like that “feeling” in space around us, not us, and how we experience it. It’s fun to build around it in a photo- composition.