“My name is Rielle Barill (@aligatorlounge) and I currently reside on the east coast of Florida. I’m originally from Detroit and spent 13 years in New York City. It was in NYC where I bought my first 35mm camera directly from the Camera District. Though I had been taking photos since I can remember, it was at this time I began to take it more seriously.
In high school, I was a member of the Photography Club, at a time when I would never have spent any extra-curricular time there, so that may have been where I fell in love with this art form because the attraction during my time at the club was very strong. I believe genetics played a role too, or exposure at a young age. My Mom was an avid picture taker of everything; all events, places, people, vacations et.al. In school, I was naturally drawn to art classes, creative writing, and reading, anything visual.
I attended a few basic photography classes at The School of Visual Arts and proceeded to study Film Production at a four-year university, where I graduated with an English minor. I realized how very important every single frame of film is significant to the whole, and the sequence and arrangement or editing of frames plays a dramatic role in how the completed film is perceived.”
Once you decided to become more serious about photography, what sort of ideas or style of photography did you have in mind at that time did you want to pursue forward? And why was that 35mm camera significant in your memories of being a photographer? Was it because of the cost of film that made you want to be more serious about your shots?
“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what type of photography I wanted to pursue. It was more about experimenting with and learning the camera techniques, what different lenses did, developing and printing film, and so on. A friend gave me some old darkroom equipment I was able to use in my bathroom, but my classes also included professional dark rooms students had access to. It was this total control and manipulation of images that made me realize photography was more about art and much more involved as an art form than just snapping pictures. And the control I now had with my this new camera and equipment heightened my interest.”
It wasn’t that I chose this genre to shoot, rather it chose me. It was available right in my backyard, with easy access.
Talk about your interest in urban photography and the idea of turning the mundane into art. Do you remember when you started to become interested in this subject matter?
“Maybe because I grew up in a blue-collar factory town where the landscape was dotted with auto factories and related auto parts supply stores, drab strip malls, crowded cookie-cutter subdivisions etc, that I found magic in the mundane. It wasn’t very pretty, but it had a perverse draw anyway. It had a spirit that could be felt. When the Chrysler plant was newly renovated years ago (it took up 4 square miles), I saw the beauty in its bright shiny reflective silver steel mass set against the blue sky. I found beauty in the material itself, its texture and color, and especially its reflective properties. And the way in which the entire building altered the landscape. It was beautiful and intimidating in its essence, its grandeur. Yet, it was quite mundane and unattractive; many would not have seen the art or beauty. Hence, the beginning of shooting mundane Industrial Art. It wasn’t that I chose this genre to shoot, rather it chose me. It was available right in my backyard, with easy access.
There is so much beauty in the mundane. Light, color, shadow, texture. Things we often don’t see because we’re looking for something more grand and substantial. I like taking one frame from the big picture and focusing on a tiny amount of beauty, in order to look deeper and closer. To really see. It’s like meditating for the senses. I love when frames are uncluttered and clean, so the beauty or subject is not lost by excessive ‘noise’ or doesn’t unconsciously confuse or jar the mind. These kinds of pictures, to me, create anxiety.”
Talk about how photography has changed your perspectives in how you view things around you.
“Photography has made me much more aware of my surroundings and has also allowed me to ‘see more’ into every object or subject. To look at things more abstractly and see their individual pieces instead of the entire whole. Kind of like an inner beauty which can’t always be seen, but yet is felt. The whole idea behind mundane is to make a mundane subject look like so much more with the use of color, crop, lighting etc. While you said you like and feel my photos are vibrant and colorful and not mundane, that’s exactly the point. Showing the beauty in the mundane. Making it appeal to the viewer. Making an ordinary subject come to life by applying these techniques.”
Where do you normally go to find your inspiration and shoot?
“Where I reside or vacation has basically always been my canvas, my inspiration. Hence, my interest in color and tropical beauty, texture, and light, blue water, nature, architecture etc. now that I currently reside in Florida. It’s what’s available. There are many other things or areas I’d love to photograph, yet I never run out of beauty or interesting subject matter here. Our landscape is our canvas. And as my style changes, I can go back to the same place many times, and capture the same subject differently and better, so that it’s always fresh and new and inspiring.
I go everywhere to get my photos! Depending on my mood that day, how much time I have, etc. There’s nothing more enjoyable than getting in the car and heading out with camera in tow. The freedom and the creative canvas laid before me… anticipating my arrival. I often plan on going to one specific destination to shoot, but often make many stops along the way, sometimes not even making it to the final destination. Enjoying the journey. Often, my better photos come from not planning where and when to shoot, but the random stuff I find along the way. And that’s the way I like it.”
Pick one photo that you took that you love still to this day and talk about the photo and experience for you.
“I don’t have this photo of one that I took way back but I can share with you that moment which I still remember quite well. I In the early days, my photography was very much about social situations and not necessarily pretty. It appealed to me at an emotional level. In the deep South of Alabama, I photographed poverty. Depicting how life is difficult and sometimes cruel. How we do not all live equally. And how one frame can tell a story.
One of my favorites from this time is taken on a very cool winter day. The smoke is spewing from the chimney of this tiny little rustic wooden home with peeling weathered paint, set back on a drab landscape. It’s cloudy and gray outside. For warmth, the windows are covered with a thick yellowed plastic that is loose and rattling in the wind. There is a little boy about 6 or 7 years old with bright carrot red hair and lots of lovely freckles outside on his red bike.
His clothes are old and worn, as is his bike. But his huge gap-toothed smile and look of interest when he spots me is what makes the frame. Such a contradiction to his bleak surroundings. He is happy, regardless. I can’t help but wonder what will come of him as he grows older. Will he escape this level of poverty or will he carry on never knowing the difference? Will he be happy then as he is now? Just this one frame gives the viewer so much story, albeit interpreted in many different ways from person to person.”
Do you miss taking photos that you use to take? What changed you to focus only on minimal art?
“I do miss taking the photos I used to take, but my surroundings have changed. I’m surrounded by nature, color, blue skies, and tropical beauty. It comes back to photographing what’s available. And what’s available is so much vibrant color and beauty, it just naturally progressed into trying to depict that to others through minimal frames. Just a pink building against a blue sky is gorgeous. You don’t have to see the entire bldg to appreciate the effect.
The combined colors and textures, light, angle and the crop make this come to life. It’s often what’s left out of the frame that allows one to focus on what’s available more closely. It also stimulates the imagination so that one may wonder what the entire building looks like. What’s next to it..? How does it jive with its environment? Fit into the landscape? These are questions the viewer may ask, as mundane minimal allows for more objectivity. It allows the viewer more interpretation. They only get a tiny piece of the larger picture.”
Any plans for 2018?
“Looking forward, I plan to travel out of state and across the country on a photographic journey. Possibly in a tiny home on wheels or an RV. I long to photograph the Southwest and the quiet, yet preserved vintage ghost towns of the Nevada desert. Anything vintage and completely unaltered fascinates me. Wide open landscapes, desert stops in the middle of nowhere. Arizona has so much to offer, from Phoenix to Sedona to the Grand Canyon. Utah, Wyoming, Montana. The list is endless.”
By Pixsoul. Photos © Rielle Barill.
Visit his Instagram for more work and info.