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An Interview with Roxann McCann

ROXANNE ROCKS

Q. WHAT MOVES YOU MOST ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY?<

A. The ability of a camera to capture a moment in time never ceases to enchant me.  As a child, I could study a black and white photo in Life magazine for what seemed like ages, always finding something more in the layers of visual information.  The tiniest detail, barely visible, could be immensely telling.  It is fascinating.  The human face has always fascinated me.  The expression in a person's eyes, and the feeling of looking into a beautiful soul is always compelling.  And the ability to capture that beauty and show it to the person I have photographed is boundlessly joyful and rewarding.

Q. WHO IN YOUR BACKGROUND INFLUENCED YOU TO PICK UP THE CAMERA?

A. My then husband-to-be, Austin McCann, taught me to use a 35 mm camera that he happened to have.  It was love at first sight, both for him, and for the camera.  I was hooked the moment I shot my first roll of Tri-X.   It was the ideal means of creating art for me, since I cannot even draw a straight line.  Finally, I could channel my creative energy!

Q. COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION?

A. I attended The University of California Santa Barbara, and earned my degree in Classics, which is ancient Greek and Latin.  I had a passion for languages, and enjoyed reading the ancient texts in their original form.   The Stanford campus in Rome offered intercollegiate Classical studies, and I had the good fortune to attend for my year abroad.   I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the art and architecture there, and immersed myself in the Italian Renaissance.  The paintings of Caravaggio and the sculptures of Bernini continue to inform the choices I make as a photographer.

Q. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT TECHNIQUE vs HAVING AN EXCELLENT EYE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY…CAN YOU LEARN TO SEE THE THE ANGLE TO GIVE THE BEST IMAGE?

A. Many people have told me that one must have the "eye" for photography.  I cannot debate that.  I feel that the best photographers are scientists, too, however.  They understand exactly the capabilities and limits of their cameras.  In the days of film only, they knew the chemicals and papers in the darkroom, what their filters could do, and how to pull the best print from their negatives. But technical skills alone leave one nowhere without the eye for capturing a fine original image.

Q. IS YOUR WORK AFFECTED BY YOUR MOOD?

A. Rather than my work being affected by my mood, I feel that my mood is affected by my work.  The one thing I can ALWAYS do to improve my mood is grab the camera and start shooting.  It's a wonderful means of escape.

Q. WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE?

A. I am currently using Nikon equipment.  The first camera I ever used was a mamiya sekor, which belonged to my husband.  I loved the simplicity of it.  Nothing was automatic.  We went to Canon, and had no complaints, and then to Nikon.

Q. LIGHTING…WHAT DO YOU USE MOST?

A. There is nothing more beautiful than natural light.   It can require patience, a lot of time, a big trek, and at times provides only a brief opportunity to shoot, but it is worth the effort.  To get one good shot in gorgeous light is worth a hundred in the studio.

Q. IN ADDITION TO YOUR CURRENT ASSIGNMENTS WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

A. Going forward, I am organizing and editing my photos of Malibu over the past 30- plus years to ready them for exhibit and to possibly do a book.  The work I began in Hawai'i in the 1990s that captures the Polynesian culture is cohesive as a body of work, and I am just doing some fine-tuning on it.