I first met Megan at a Film in Baltimore meet-up a couple of years ago, joined with a number of other Baltimore film-shooters. I later found out we were actually classmates at the nearby University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Both being photo students there, we got to take part in many work-in-progresses and critiques together so I got to see the amount of thought and feelings behind her work. Seeing her work often encouraged me to put more of myself into my own.
We talked with Megan about forming her interest in photography, her feelings reflected in her work, her series on women, and more! We're happy to have Megan Lloyd on Cadillac Ranch Dressing.
Photos by Megan Lloyd
Interview by Josh Sinn
Where were you born and where do you currently call home?
I was born in Annapolis, MD and grew up in a little town called Mayo. I currently live in Baltimore in the Remington region.
How did you start shooting photos?
It's kind of funny because I remember a day pretty vividly when I was around 7 years old. I thought I wanted to be a bird watcher, so I took my underwater camera outside and took pictures of birds. I'm not sure if I would call that the day I started taking pictures but I always had a camera on me when I was younger. I remember having polaroids and a camera that shot 110 film.
"I somehow can take an image and portray my feelings. It's really a wild thing."
When I was in High school, I started having interest in black and white photography. My mother took me to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, MD for a photography class taught by this elderly man that I remember looking like Einstein or Christopher Lloyd from Back To The Future. He was awesome. He gave us all his phone number so we could call him anytime we were out shooting and maybe had a question. I remember seeing him downtown Annapolis helping some students one evening. He was really good at teaching and definitely kicked my interest up a notch. I later went on to taking Photography and Photoshop classes in high school with Mrs. Sears. I may have been into a completely different style of photography at that time, but she really taught me the basics of digital imaging. I then went on to taking classes at Anne Arundel Community College where I was turned back on to film again. Don Kneesi was my instructor. He opened my eyes to photographing light and showed us how to develop and print color prints. It changed my whole outlook on photography.
What are some things that influence your work?
I think most people who know me know that emotion highly influences my work. I did my senior project based on depression and loss. I somehow can take an image and portray my feelings. It's really a wild thing. I would say that my daily struggles influence my work too. Struggles such as feeling jealous, diffident, not good enough or hopeless. It's not that I am always down or depressed, don't get me wrong, it's just that when I am, my work thrives the most. I am moved when I feel such strong emotion. I also feel that love influences my work. When I am feeling in love, I think I see things differently. Everything is more beautiful.
While you do also shoot digitally, most of your work is shot on film. Why do you think film suits certain projects for you?
This is a hard question to answer, I get asked this a lot. There is just something about film, the grain, the time and thought put into each frame. Not that digital photographs can't take time and effort, but it's just different with film. You can only fit so many images on one roll of film, so you think more wisely with what you want to put on it. At least I do. I guess you could say there is a timelessness. There is something special about each individual photograph because you put so much work into them. I don't know, like I said before, there is just something about film.
A lot of your projects involve a personal journey. How has your photography helped you discover things about yourself?
In my portrait series of women I found myself envying the women I was shooting. I found myself awkward and nervous and shutter-shy. I guess I knew I was those things but it became more evident as I was conducting the shoots. At moments I would feel unsure of myself and others it felt completely natural. When I say I envy the women I was shooting, I mean I looked into each one and their personality and found qualities I wanted to be more strong in, such as being independent, confident, beautiful, and joyful. These are all things I tend to struggle with.
"I feel like having the camera there gave me a purpose."
My senior project helped me get through a break up. Though the break up didn't last for more than a couple months, those months seemed full of the longest days I have ever experienced. To me it feels like that project took a year to complete. It felt like a death had occurred. It was this time last year that I was going through this and most people understand how hard this time of winter is. The gloomy skies and nasty weather really effected me. This journey of overcoming loss flowed over my images. Going from self portraits when I was feeling the lowest to windows beaming of warm light on my better days.
Your series on women delves into your relationship with other females, confronting the uncomfortable feelings you found from being around them. How did you go about starting this project?
I guess I dove into this earlier in the interview but I didn't actually talk about how I started it. I think I was assigned a project at UMBC around the same time I was thinking about confronting my anxiety so I chose to confront my anxiety about women. I put myself in situations where I would have to deal with and be okay with conversing and being around them.
How did most shoots go?
I remember that some of them went really well, where I felt confident as the photographer. There was one where I felt like I was a burden and no one wanted me to take their photo. Another I felt pretty nervous and some photos didn't turn up very well because I was trying to manage the settings too quickly. The images that I took the most time framing and feeling out were the ones that came out the best.
What about having the camera there changes the experience with these women?
I feel like having the camera there gave me a purpose. I was there to take pictures of them and they knew it. I didn't have to be funny or fun or interesting, because it was about them, when actually it was all about me.
What did you ultimately gain from the project?
I think I gained a little more of a push to get out there and take pictures of my friends whenever I want to. I'm still nervous to do it but I have more confidence doing it. It didn't solve my issues with affiliating with women, but it made me more aware of what I needed to overcome.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
To be honest, I don't really have any projects exactly. I have, though, been working on taking photographs at shows/concerts, mostly of my friends bands. It's a subject I used to be really into and have lately been inspired by other photographers to do so. I feel like as soon as it gets warmer out I will most likely feel more inclined to starting some other projects.