Glide Magazine ~ September 2006

by Pixie
January 12, 2007

In the hands of uber photographer Pixie, the camera becomes a kaleidoscopic conduit between subject and audience. Her photos are evocative, expressive and undeniably fun. You immediately get that Pixie is exactly where she should be - smack in the middle of the most beautiful, colorful, freaky people on the scene. Her ongoing photography projects include Dresden Dolls, Flaming Lips, Fishbone, Particle, The Mutaytor, Bassnectar and many others. She is also a featured photographer in the bellydance community and events such as Burning Man.

"In photography, I've found a way to make people happy... besides the creativity, this is what I love most about it. The feedback seems to tell me that I make people feel better about themselves, love each other more... If this is my life work, I accept it."

It's clear from your photo galleries, that your subjects are having a good time being photographed. How do you get people to loosen up and feel comfortable in front of the camera?

I tend to just jump right into it, which leaves very little time for insecurities. I get very excited about wardrobe, about colors and fabrics. I love smiles and boldness. I love movement and spontaneity. I like to find new ways to bring emotions out of people. My shoots seem to turn into these fluid experiences making it a safe place for us both to just be ourselves. I love to take photographs; people love to shine… it's just about finding that zone.

You shot The Flaming Lips at the Wakarusa festival. Describe the experience.

Flaming Lips is love. It is blissful chaos on that stage. I've never experienced anything like that frenzy. Wayne is an omnipresent force of guru and such an inspiration to me. I remember that night, in between songs, he told everyone that "Enthusiasm can change the world." I listen to that, you know… that stays with me. But yeah, Wakarusa was an absolute blast. I laughed the entire time on that stage. Imagine dancing on stage with a dozen people in Santa Claus outfits, nuns, aliens, superheroes! It was unreal! Due to me being slightly vertically challenged, I got most of my shots that night being held up by a guy in an alien costume standing on a shaky speaker in the middle of all of them… confetti in my hair, pulling streamers from my eyes. This is what I do for a living.

Where's the most unusual place you've photographed musicians?

I've shot bands in forests in Texas with baby heads and lanterns. I've shot bands in subway stations in Berlin. Recently I've been into antique metal and industrial scenes. I had an interesting shoot last month with the Dresden Dolls running around in the old warehouse streets of Portland's waterfront; train tracks, 1940's vibe. We ended up taking over an antique store. The owners were so sweet. They said they had a coffin upstairs and on our way to locating it, we got sidetracked by old marble fireplace mantles and dusty armoires. That place was its own timeless trip. When I shoot musicians, or anyone outside really, I find myself on scavenger hunts. I love the flicker of it all, the excitement of a new found place.

Do you have a preference for studio, performance or other settings?

The studio is a controlled environment. It takes more out of me than performances because it's a one-on-one exchange. In the studio I'm drawing emotion out of someone, pushing away doubt, conjuring the best face. It takes a lot out of me but it's usually exhilarating. With performances I don't have to bring the energy out of anyone, it's already there, on stage, live… My only job is to listen to light and capture the moment.

I live for both, truthfully. I love to create the moments and I love to capture them. They are both satisfying to me. I don't think I could do just one or the other for all time though. I need variety.

You're the official photographer for post-modern circus act Mutaytor. What are the challenges in photographing such a large and colorful ensemble?

I'm in love with The Mutaytor; they are my family. There are so many of them though that sometimes it's hard to get full coverage of each and every one of them at every show. I play a game in my head though and at each show I try to do just that… again, the theme of scavenger hunts in my shooting. The moments are there, I just have to find them. With The Mutaytor there's just so much happening at any given time on that circus of a stage that I have to follow one individual and get their story before I move on to the next. And sometimes I realize the song's over and I see someone coming off aerial and I give myself thirty lashes… but no one seems to notice but me. They've been so supportive, such muses…

What's in your bag of tricks?

I am currently shooting with a Canon 5D and a Canon 20D. I use a mess of lenses; my favorites being the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L.

Many of the musicians and dancers you shoot perform regularly in front of large audiences. Describe the difference in what happens in the intimacy of your studio versus what they do onstage.

There are always reigning traces of stage antics in my studio shots but typically everyone starts out the same in a studio setting… seeking that zone, the permission to just be themselves, no showy stage faces, just their true natures… and we build up from there.

Who's on your dream list for future photo shoots?

I'd love to shoot the musicians that inspire me… Bowie, The Cranes, Sigur Ros, Kate Bush, Legendary Pink Dots, Stereo Total, Tricky, Mum, Thrill Kill Kult, Tom Waits, Rasputina…. just too many bands and performance artists to list…

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