Digital artist Paxton Maroney has a growing portfolio of conceptual photography that explores the delicate balance between fantasy and reality. Growing up, Paxton was always interested in art, but it wasn't until she found photography that her fascination grew and that spark of passion was ignited. After many years of vivid dreams that disrupted her sleep, she was finally able to channel that energy by creatively expressing herself using a camera.
Paxton's images have a strong focus on storytelling and often pair a solitary human element with a dark, whimsical landscape, inviting the audience to find their own meaning. With a growing career and endless talent, we can't wait to watch where 2017 takes her.
We are grateful for the opportunity to get in touch with her for a Behind The Lens look into her creative photography. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey into photography?
I’ve always had an affinity for the arts and photography has fascinated me most. My true passion for photography ignited around 2007. I actually was more interested in the post work at that time and retouched for others before I owned a digital camera of my own. In my opinion, being a creative while still having a vision for something is more beneficial than being technically sound with a camera. Anyone can learn how to use a camera, but, not everyone has the ability to use it as a tool creatively.
What are some of your interests?
I love to travel when I can. I’m always in need of inspiring spaces and I can’t stay in one place to do that. I also love to paint, mainly watercolor. It might be the only time my thoughts are quiet. Painting is very therapeutic for me.
Your work is dreamy and creative, how do you stay inspired?
One of my biggest inspirations is music. I immerse myself in it daily. It feeds my soul.
How do you choose your models?
For the past 3 years, I have only used non-professional models. I need a natural subject, with the unposed natural quality I like. I enjoy seeing that in my images. I don’t need perfect. I need real. I also do self-portrait work.
To you, what are the qualities that make a perfect shot?
If I can portray what I am trying to say without words – that is my perfect shot. If what I produce inspires or makes a connection with another individual, that makes me happy.
You've stated that photography has been an outlet for you, how has photography impacted your life?
Greatly. I feel like it's my purpose to create using this medium. I feel it in my bones. Photography is an extension of myself.
From conceptualizing to post processing, how much planning goes into a shoot?
Conceptualizing is an interesting part of my work. My photos are actually dreams of mine. I can’t explain how they come about, I can only assume they are my worst fears and greatest hopes coming into play. I try to sketch them out, but these days I have taken to writing small notes. Re-reading them usually will trigger that image in my mind so I can then prepare to create the layers using photography as most of my work is done using composites put together as if it was one shot. That may change in the future, you never really know how your work will progress over time.
How do you light your photos?
I prefer to shoot with non-directional light so that I can control that in post. I love a cloudy day.
Do you use artificial or natural light?
What has been your favorite shooting location?
That’s a tough one because I love so many places, but, California has my heart. I recently traveled up the coast of Big Sur.
How would you define your style?
I've never really considered this but I've taken to calling my work conceptual fine art. I do other styles as well like fashion, product, architectural, portrait, musicians, street, and travel.
Is there an overall message you would like your photos convey?
I think the messages are all over the board. I just want to connect with someone else. I’m sharing a story and that image may mean different things to each of my audience. My images are personal and I typically don’t share the connection that I have with them, preferring to let the viewer decide.
What challenges have you faced while creating?
Money is always going to be a challenge. Imagining a location and not being able to get to that space, often for years. I have sketches just lying in waiting. Now if someone would just pay me to travel and create work, I’d be all set!
What's a must have in your gear bag?
A remote switch. I just got the Canon 5D Mark IV and having that Wi-Fi capability and iPhone app Remote has changed my world when it comes to doing self portrait work. 2017 is gonna be so much fun getting to utilize that feature!
How much post processing goes into a completed photo?
The bulk of my time consists in post processing, for my fine art work. I may be a photographer, but, I consider myself more so a digital artist using photography.
What are your plans for the future?
Well that’s a big question! I have always planned on finding representation from a gallery. I got offered that in New York from a wonderful gallery but the timing wasn't right. Little did I know my dreams were to come true before the end of this year. I now am represented locally by Jen Mauldin Gallery and have a show coming up in February. To see those event dates, I will be posting that info on Facebook.
My other big endeavor is to find a natural light studio in Dallas for all of my freelance work. I’m getting much closer to doing that very soon!
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I do! Other than my exhibition I mentioned previously, which is huge, I have a show with some brand new mixed media work at Neighborhood in Bishop Arts District in May. I’m also doing some collaboration work with BBD Revolving, so, check that out and I have a collaboration with another artist, a sculptor, that is in the works and will continue throughout the next year. Again, 2017 is sounding so promising and full of new adventures. I’m just thankful to be working and using my passion to accomplish it!
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
I certainly do. Don’t get caught up in getting the most desired equipment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have the nicer things. But, when you are aspiring and just starting out, remember that these are just tools. You are creating it and using it. You are what is going to make that image amazing. Ambition goes a long way. Only get what you can afford and in time your business and craft will grow. Growth is never ending. I’m always trying to do so.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Paxton Maroney.