10 minutes with Elissa Bogos

Interviews with Photographers October 11, 2011 8:41 am

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

When I was in the first grade, my parents gave me a Polaroid camera for my birthday.
I used it to photograph everything–my pet frog, meals my mom was preparing, our backyard, my collection of dolls. This desire to capture everything around me staying with me, although I hadn’t thought about turning it into a career. I went to college as a journalism major, Russian literature minor. After a year, I decided to switch schools and focus completely on photography. I was always specifically interested in photojournalism and documentary photography, in letting photographs give voices to people who might not typically be heard or seen. That probably sounds cliche, but I believe it’s true and it’s really what drew me to photography. Growing up, too, my parents were always taking us to museums and I was captivated with the light in some of the paintings I saw. For as long as I can remember, we’ve had reproductions of Vermeer’s “Young Woman With a Water Pitcher” and Velazquez’s “The Water Carrier of Seville” in our house. Those paintings, how they seemed to be just painted with light, remained with me.

I feel so lucky to have met you at Magnum way back when we were college kids. Even though our group of interns all said we wanted to be photojournalists, you were the only one who actually did it. This is a vague question but – how did you decide to take the plunge and get out there and become a journalist? In the beginning of your travels, was it hard to stay motivated?

I remember feeling discouraged at times. I was frequently in touch with a former professor and mentor from my college, and I’d often send him photos I’d taken. He was a very tough critic and I felt discouraged when, after sending him some photos I’d taken in Jordan, he really tore them apart. But his criticism was immensely helpful to me. It can be hard to put your work out there and even harder to take harsh criticism, but it really helped me see things more clearly.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m continuing to freelance, but I hope to start working on a personal project soon.

 

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

Elissa Bogos

 

Elissa is based in Afghanistan. See more of her work, here.

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