It’s endlessly fascinating, when talking to people about how they got where they are—literally or figuratively—to observe the role of chance or luck in our most basic choices about where & how to live and what to do.
A case in point is Molly Magee. The third member (along with Kim & Adam Bamberg of Bamberg Fine Art Photography Whim W’him‘s gifted photographic team), Molly moved to Seattle because she once spent 24 hours here on an RV road trip with her aunt and chose photography merely “as something to pursue.” In the last four years, though, Molly has come, by a combination of luck and recognizing good opportunities, to lead “a totally different life. Before,” she says, “it was a life of reaction. Now it’s a life of positive action. Photography and community are essential to that.” And Whim W’Him has come to play an integral part in her new life.
Raised in an art-minded environment (her mother, like Kim’s, was an interior designer), she tried various media, but could do none to her satisfaction. “I was a horrible painter,” she says with a rueful smile. By the end of high school, Molly had given up on an arts career and went to college for finance. For a couple of years she did nothing artistic.
In 2008, after a floundering couple of years in-and-out of schools and majors, Molly decamped to Seattle and enrolled in Seattle University. The university had a partnership with Photographic Center Northwest. Before her first classes there, she’d had no training whatsoever in photography, but a year later she thought, “I might really be good at this!”
Up to then, she had searched her whole life, “consciously and unconsciously for the artistic medium that is right. “Now,” she says, “it’s the most natural thing in the world. I’m more comfortable with a camera in-hand than without—it’s a tangible reminder that I’ve found my articulation, a physical action that affirms I’ve been given this self-knowledge.”
Two years after her move to Seattle, through her PCNW mentor who had also been Kim’s, Molly met Kim, who was then at Junebug Weddings full-time. Molly went to work as her assistant. Before Kim, Molly had essentially no experience with portraiture. Kim “encouraged me start photographing people,” she says, “and people are amazing.” In fact, “photographing people is almost all I do now.” And with Whim W’Him she has found a new source of inspiration—photographing human beings in motion.
Molly worked with the Junebugs team until August 2012, when she got her own business license. She especially loves photographing children and families in less conventional ways, as she seeks to document how they interact in their own homes, their own environment. “To photograph a daily moment and see how special it is,” is what she calls, “a perfect experience.” Outside of Whim W’Him, and her wedding & portrait photography business, Molly enjoys working on a personal series entitled “90 Something’s” — a portrait series of people in their 90’s which combines photography sessions and conversations in an effort to document the dignity and beauty of aging.
She is very emphatic that she has no interest in portraying her subjects as “old and decrepit, but in showing how beautiful they are.” She adds, “I’ve been fascinated by the idea of aging all my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid of it. As a child, I remember loving my grandmother’s wrinkles and wanting wrinkles myself. I didn’t grow out of that fascination.” I’m drawn to what often are considered defects—I’d chose hands down someone with wrinkly skin over smooth.” And her 90 Something’s are “wonderful to talk to too.”
Molly’s regular work generally involves post-production removing of blemishes. “But something draws me to not having to do that.” Which brings us to some highly intriguing and tricky aspects of the relation of photography and art today. But they will be the subject of future posts, in which all three of Whim W’Him’s photographers share some of their own favorite Whim W’Him posts and talk about the profound difference technology has made to photography, more than in any other art, in recent years.