When I moved to New York City to work as a photographer, I was self-taught and did not know anyone there. After a lot of hard work and belief that I had something good to offer, I was hired by Andy Warhol, and photographed Morgan Freeman, Lenny Kravitz, Kevin Bacon, Kate Moss, designer Vivien Westwood, and many others. I worked in NYC and London for Vogue, British Elle, Interview, Details, British GQ, Blitz, The London Sunday Times Magazine, and others. All the while, I made many images for myself too, as I do now.
Then I had a family (two girls) and moved to Bend, Oregon, a town of 80,000. A huge change from NYC!
My girls are now 15 and 17 years old and often participate as models in my images. I try to capture the complexity of female identity and attitude in the form of a personal narrative – a theme that I also explore with painting and printmaking (paulabullwinkel.com), based on my photographs. I like the concept of creating an image with directing, actors, costumes, stage sets and a evolving script.
Each image is like a frame from a film. The images are figurative, narrative and allegorical. I create heroines and animal-heroes who balance feelings of marvel and mystery with a sense of conflict and uncertainty. The heroines are outcasts and sometimes half animal. They could be considered bewitched. What does it mean to be a girl? Or not quite a girl?
I often think up characters who are on a quest that seems somehow familiar to the viewer. For instance, Beatrix and Hestia (in my book of the same name) are each on their own journey; one is a searcher, and one is a lover. The images are a combination of fantasy, surrealism and history, in which time and space become fluid and strange. The history comes through sometimes in nostalgic symbols, such as my own mother’s dirndl, bought in 1969, phone booths, or a 1950’s kitchen.
The women and girls are often on the move. They are strong and beautiful. There is often a wondrous effort in the heroines’ energy. They are in flux, but there is a positive sense to it. I like to think I bestow upon my characters the goodness they want, deserve or need. I will them to not only survive, but to complete their journeys. The images are about the hardest part of the trip; the intersection between potential and conflict.
paula bullwinkel at prodigy.net
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Millennium Images, in London, represents 62 of my photographs. They work with many organizations supplying images for magazines, advertising and especially book covers through the world.