Q&A: Porter Hovey

Porter Hovey is one of a kind. Her photography is both humorous and skilfully crafted. I stumbled upon her blog The Porter Polaroid Project, and couldn't look away. Have you ever read a post that kept you scrolling through an entire blog's existence? Hovey's is of this kind.

Darrah: Where are you from?

Porter: I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, but grew up in Kansas City.

Darrah: But now you're in New York, right? If you could take one picture of New York City, what would it be of and why?

Porter: I couldn't choose just one!

Paul Strand -- Wallstreet 1915
Gary Winogrand -- World's Fair, New York, 1964

Mitch Epstein -- Untitled, 1998 (from The City)

Darrah: Why did you start this Polaroid project? Is this the medium you typically work with?

Porter: During school I loved a tremendous undertaking; I shot with medium format, always pushed a social agenda and herded small armies of costumed subjects around. My "Sex Scandals" and "Here Comes the Bride" projects both illustrated the dark side of instant gratification. Politicos and pop stars throw their careers away for a quick cheap thrill; my bride is hellbent on getting to the aisle, without much consideration for the actual marriage. So, this time around, I thought it would be fun to show a little darkness and isolation through a medium synonymous with instant gratification. The Polaroid Project was born.

It was just one of those lazy summer days. I had some extra film in my house, so I just went out in my neighborhood and started taking photos. It was a great feeling that I hadn't felt in years -- me, alone, thinking about photography and art in a neighborhood I love so much. This project just seems to fit with my life at the moment.

Darrah: What is your favorite thing about a Polaroid?

Porter: I love the quality of a Polaroid. The way it makes different colors look is always a surprise to me. It instantly creates a nostalgic feeling that no other medium will ever duplicate.

Darrah: Do you ever use the white space on the bottom?

Porter: From time to time I'll write on the back of them with the date and the exact location. It's usually when I'm traveling and I know I'll never remember the names of the streets. It's a bit easier with the ones I take in New York since I'm so familiar with the areas I usually shoot.

Darrah: I noticed that some of the Polaroids on your blog are taken outside of New York. Are they all original, or do people send them to you?

Porter: They're all original photos. If I leave the city, I've been taking my camera with me. In January, my grandpa died and my sister and I went back to Lincoln for the funeral. He was our last tie to Nebraska and we knew that it might be the last time we would ever be there. Between all the family obligations, we ventured out to visit all of the places we loved and remembered as little kids -- places that evoke indelible memories of our grandpa and a different time in our lives. The experience was very bittersweet, but the shots are some of my favorites in my portfolio.

Darrah: Would you ever consider doing a "Fashion Polaroid Project?" I would love to see your take on the world of fashion.

Porter: I would love to do something like that! I was taught by Larry Fink in college, and he really inspired me. I love how he sees the world of "celebrities and fashion." I would hope to evoke that style -- albeit through a different medium.

Darrah: I found one Polaroid featuring Prada shoes. Where did you get those?

Porter: The shoes were a birthday present from my sister.

Darrah: Do you always have a concept behind your photography?

Porter: I try to have a social commentary behind all of my work and how we react to the culture around us -- the disappearing American landscape, over-the-top weddings, the paparazzi, etc... etc...

Darrah: How would you define your style?

Porter: Straight.

Darrah: What do you do with all the physical Polaroids?

Porter: As of right now, they're all in different piles on the back of my book shelves. Perhaps I need a better filing system!

Darrah: On your website you have a celebrity section, and have a picture of one of my favorite designers -- Erin Fetherston! Are you a paparazzi?

Porter: Paparazzi... such a negative term -- I'm more of a party photographer. I was shooting a Terry Richardson party for Index magazine, and had a run-in with Vincent Gallo. He yelled, called me a "pap," and said how much he hated the magazine. As I tried to walk away, some girl stomped on the top of my foot with her stiletto. I sat down next to Boy George and started to cry. I later found out that shortly before the party, Vincent had been begging the editors to be on the cover, but they shot him down.

Darrah: Haha! You are hilarious. The story, "Here Comes the Bride" on your page is fantastic. Is this real?!

Porter: Hahaha! I am glad that you think it's funny! It's not real, but based in reality. We all know girls like this. The project just started with the idea that weddings are out of control and people have lost the perspective that it should be a celebration of love -- not gauche ostentation. Everything is a bit exaggerated, but the end still has the same result -- this girl lost perspective and ended up ruining her whole wedding. I was the bride.

Darrah: I could quickly sense humor in your photography. Where would you say this stems from?

Porter: I think it's just a part of my personality. It's hard when you're making art; so many people in the business take things so seriously. I'm not that kind of person, and I think my photos reflect that.

If you'd like to contact Porter, feel free to email her at: porterhovey@gmail.com.


amy@flyingakite.blogspot.com said...

Such a beautiful artist

...love Maegan said...

great interview ...and fab photos as well!

porter hovey said...

Awww! Thank you so much for such a wonderful interview!! I'm just happy that people have been enjoying the project.

Darrah said...

Isn't her work amazing?

Leigh said...

I love her work and fantastic interview!!! and great inspiration :))

jules said...

Oh this is so cool! I loved reading this so much thank you!!

brooke said...

hey lady! thanks for poppin over yesterday! i am so so jealous...you live in seattle...we just moved to the {awful} south from washington about two years ago and i miss it madly!!
anyway...love it here in your dresser!! such fun!! i love the gary winogrand, world's fair - new york - 1964...love it!

Lydia said...

Great interview! Her bride series sounds like something I have been pondering lately! My own wedding (as you know) was never about me, or the dress or some lofty expectations of perfection, it was about Love and celebrating our Love with our friends and family.

Anonymous said...

I love the black and white image! :)

alyssa said...

I love this interview! Porter seems like a lot of fun!! I love her work...

melange muse said...

I really like that blog. Polaroids are sweet!

melange muse said...

I really like that blog. Polaroids are sweet!

Putri Erdisa said...

oh, i'm fallin in love with the last picture!


Underfunded Heiress said...

So talented. Love the photos!

abigailandmaddy said...

your blog is fantastic!

frances said...

fab interview, i love the polaroids. x