23 September 2010

People Who Inspire Me: Elizabeth Crawford

I feel extremely fortunate to have encountered so many fascinating and talented people in my 24 short years.  It thrills me to meet others who appreciate the ordinary and extraordinary beauty all around us every day.  Lizzy is one of those exceptional people who has the rare talent of capturing that beauty in her always thoughtful and, at times, fabulously melancholy photographs.  I admire her gift immensely as I have little to no photographic prowess and I had great difficulty narrowing down only a few from all of my favorites ... so I didn't.  She was gracious enough to let me have my pick.  Thanks, Liz!

(Please note that some of the photographs would not fit as original size and I had to resize them thus losing some clarity.  Please click on the photos to open them in a new window as their original size.)

When did you take your first photograph? Describe, please. Did your parents hand you a camera at a young age or was photography something you discovered later or by accident? Tell me about this...

It wasn’t until a high school trip to France that I really started photographing. My twin brother, John, took great care focusing the shots he took of ancient castle and historic landmarks. My parents framed a few of them and put them up on the mantlepiece.  I had mostly taken photos of silly things like the dirt at Versailles or snap shots of the other students. When I showed them my photos from the trip my mother laughed and called them “people pictures.” I still don’t really know what she meant by that.
When I got back to the U.S. I bought a Nikon powershot camera that looked like it was made out of body armor. Within a year I took 5,000 photos with it. Turns out, it was not made of body armor. The corners were busted in, the whole surface of the body was covered in scratches. I really did a number on that camera carrying it around all the time.

What inspires you? Who inspires you? (People, places, motifs, anything)

Those first 5,000 photos I took in high school are lost because my laptop’s hard drive failed but I’m not totally heartbroken about this. I took photos of everything. Anything that caught my eye, really. I used to keep my powershot on the corner of my desk in class in case anyone did something interesting enough to photograph.
My best friend at the time told me that my camera was more like an extension of my right hand and anytime she saw me without it I was as unhappy as anyone who had just lost a limb.
I’ve studied fine art for the past four years and I’ve learned so much about the history of photography and contemporary themes in blue-chip art. The truth is, when I started photographing my daily life it was really a ferocious attempt to capture every moment so that I wouldn’t forget it.

Has being a photographer changed how you see people and things? For instance, are you always putting a frame around life and situations?

Oh, always. I’ll never forget showing my photos to my high school art teacher for the first time. She flipped through the two hundred thumbnails I gave her and after a few minutes she looked up at me and said, “I wish I could see the world the way you do.”
I am constantly hoping that someday a lens on a camera will produce the same peripheral affects of the human eye. That’s probably why I love my wide angle lens so much.

What is the most interesting/scary/weird dream you've ever had?

I go through phases of dreaming. Last summer I dreamt in action movies. One even had end credits.

Favorite meal ever: where, what, and with whom?

This is a two-hour long story but... I’ll try to condense it. Last spring I studied in France for five months (with Whitney!). My boyfriend David, and I planned a romantic weekend in Avignon for our reunion.  The rendez-vous didn’t go so smoothly. I showed up to the wrong train station with no cell phone and he didn’t speak a word of French. After a long, unfortunate struggle, we finally found each other. The next day was his birthday. After a few flutes of champagne, we wandered into this small square with a bistro hidden around
the corner. When we came back at eight to eat, the whole place was bustling with glamourous French people. We ate outside in front of an old gothic cathedral as the sun set. We savored each bite of beef stew with intense gratification. It’s impossible to describe how good this stew really was. The sad thing is, if you asked me where this place is I probably couldn’t find it again for the life of me. Maybe it was a mirage.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

This is a toss-up between Scottish countryside and the south of France. My family is Scottish and I like colder places where you don’t have to feel guilty about being bundled up inside all day. Then again, Provence is paradise on earth. I miss buying a baguette and knowing that it was made within the hour.
I live in Burlington, Vermont now. It’s called “The French Riviera of the East Coast.” If there were better bakeries, I’d stay here forever.

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be? Why?

If they weren’t going extinct, I’d say Polar Bear. I really just want a domesticated bear for a pet. Yeah. Imagine a polar bear sleeping at the foot of your bed at night.

Favorite adult beverage?

I recently had a Titanic themed party. We started in first-class with Vivaldi and the drink they served the night the boat went down which is an interesting version of punch romaine.  Here’s a link about it:
By the end of the night we were in steerage, drinking growlers of Magic Hat beer to Irish folk music.

What is your favorite book? Why?

I recently reread “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Dave Eggers. It’s a story about a boy who loses his father on 9/11 then tries to finish the puzzle his father gave him before he died. I’ve never had a book make me laugh and cry before.

Who is your favorite artist? Why?

It changes everyday, nope every minute. For contemporary photographers I love Jeff Wall and Alec Soth. For Northern European Renaissance Painters I love Hans Baldung Grien. For Arte Povera I love Guisseppe Penone. For abstract expressionism I love Helen Frankenthaler. For frescoes I love Botticelli. Ansel Adams always reminds me of my father. I’ll always love the Wyeths. For poets I love Guillaume Apollinaire and W.H. Auden. I’m all over the place.  Usually, if I love an artist it’s because of the finished product and the ideology behind it.

What would the name of your biography be?

It would probably be some play on words about a southern belle in the Northeast because my mother is from southern Mississippi and my father is from Delaware.

For titles of the photographs shown and prints for purchase, you can contact Liz at crawfordcommaliz@gmail.com .

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