Interview With Helene McGuire from United States

Interview With Matthew Tuffield from Australia
February 2, 2024
NYPA-Mid Lake Pavilion-Didi Hsu-thumb
Interview With Didi Hsu for Mid Lake Pavilion
February 2, 2024

Helene McGuire

Helene McGuire grew up in a family of artists and art lovers in France. She moved to New York for her master's degree and taught herself photography.

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

I grew up in France with a family of artists and art lovers. Art, music, and cinema were always at the center of our conversations and many of our activities. Museums and exhibits are always a favorite place to go. Photography has always stolen my heart. I took a break from law school to attend art school in Paris and loved every minute of it. I moved to NY for my master's degree and have been here ever since 20 years!

2Where did you study photography?

I didn't. I taught myself. 46 Years of cultural accumulation all over the world and academic research skills started it, then reading, personal research, practice, trial and error, and finally workshops.

3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
I remember the shot that made me think I could turn it into a job. One of my friend's husbands was an actor. He saw a shot I took of him and his son and he said, 'You have an eye, let's take some more.'
4What equipment do you use?
Currently, I work with a Canon 5D Mark IV. Eyeing Leica for Street Photo works at some point.
5What do you hope to achieve?

I love the idea of continuous education. The beauty of photography is that you never learn. There are always new techniques, new projects, new ideas, and more places and faces to capture. Love the job until the day you die!

6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?

I've had the chance to experience real moments during filming. Tears were shed during and after. The images that came out still tear me to this day. When the people in those pictures hug me and thank me for something beyond special, that's when I know I'm doing it right. I know I have a purpose. It's incredibly touching and rewarding to offer true emotions to others.

7What inspires your unique storytelling?

Deep emotions. True moments. Real people. I can't get enough.

8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?
Timeless, Genuine and Poetic.
9Congratulations! As the winner of the New York Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
Appreciation and validation, of course. Encouragement to keep working and creating. An award also means credentials as a professional. It's a step up. And it feels damn good!
10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 New York Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

"Achilles" is a combination of all the skills I'm proud of. Minimal setup, no makeup, no thrills, or frills. Quick shot, yet yields a poetic mood with boundless stories behind it. I have been taking what I call 'box portraits' for a while and I love the frame and simplicity that gently focuses on each of my subjects. I chose this one in my box portrait series because it encompasses all my favorite things, mood, textures, colors, pose, light, and story.

11How has winning an award developed your career?

Fine Art Portrait is my brand and skill. Getting a certificate that validates just that means the world!

12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.
Annie Leibovitz, whom I had the honor to tell in person how much her work meant to my portrait work. Stanley Kubrick, in his early years as a photographer, inspired my Street Photo work. Felix Kunze taught me so much about soft lighting and was a fabulous teacher.
13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?
Less is more. Especially in editing. When I edit, I always go back and take everything down a notch.
14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?

Make sure you optimize every bit of a tool before you rush into upgrades because a good photo is NOT about the tool. It's first and foremost about how much you can hone your skills with what you have. It pushes you to look at the light and get creative.

15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

It's priceless to learn from masters and others but trust your vision. There are no two stories in this area. As long as you love what you create, it's all worth it.

16How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
Every single day for as long as I live!
17Anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Thank you!

Winning Entry

Achilles | 2023

'Box portrait' series, Achilles. When I started as a photographer, the best piece of advice I received was to learn to optimize and develop the art with ..…
(Read more at New York Photography Awards)

Helene McGuire

Helene McGuire grew up in a family of artists and art lovers in France. She moved to New York for her master's degree and taught herself photography.

Read more about this article from Matthew Tuffield from Australia, the Category Winner of the Year from the 2023 New York Photography Awards!