My friend Tai is kind and warm-hearted, but she also embodies the qualities of the archetypal, gritty New Yorker who powers-through anything. Very eff the funk. Originally from Colorado, where she received her degree in photography, she claims that she liked shooting urban, gritty scenes before moving to NYC. For Tai, the work and satisfaction is in the nitty-gritty details. The day I followed her around Soho and Greenwich Village while she shot on her Canon she was using expired film so that the colors in the picture would be over-saturated.

We live in the age of Instagram (don’t hate the player, hate the app: Text-Only Instagram), but as Tai points out, “Having an Instagram account doesn’t make you an artist.” What does make you an “artist?” Putting in the time and effort. Do you focus your energy and invest time in your passion(s)? One of the reasons I started this blog is that I enjoy writing. It had been over two years since I wrote anything and I needed an outlet. I try to work on drafts for upcoming posts at least a few hours a week but the ebb and flow of everyday life can be so diverting. Sometimes I write in twenty-minute spurts while riding the subway. Without the time commitment, my blog would cease to exist and the quality of my writing would surely revert to sloppy, short-hand slang. Eff the funk and give your passion(s) the attention they deserve!

Q: You became interested in photography after a family-member gave you their old camera. What aspect of the process sparked your interest?
A: The first camera I received was a Canon QL-17 GIII rangefinder. I knew nothing about photography when I received this camera, so it was all a learning process on my own. A lot of what I enjoyed was learning how to properly use the functions of the camera to come out with a successful photo. Also, working with film, there is no immediate gratification like there is with digital, so it was always a pleasant surprise when I got the photos back and they actually came out!

Q: What kind of camera do you shoot with?
A: I have a Canon 50D, Yashica Mat TLR and a Canon QL17 III.

Q: Are you considering purchasing a digital camera?
A: Have one! I would like a high quality point and shoot digital camera and will need to upgrade the Canon to a full frame mark 5D.

Q: Do you develop your own film?
A: I have and I love it! However, currently, I do not have the space to set up a dark room, so I have a trusted shop that I go to.

Q: How would you describe your style/technique when you shoot?
A: I pay more attention to the geometry of things. I tend to focus a lot on lines, curves and shapes that repeat themselves. How shadows play up in providing more depth to the image.

Q: What are you reaching for?
A: Figuring that out…

Q: Have you experienced creative blocks? If so, how do you keep moving?
A: Yes! I’ve been in one for over a year! It can be hard to get out of it, but the key is to continue shooting or stimulating your creative senses in another fashion that may not be the primary outlet. Writing, painting, drawing,…anything really helps. Mostly though, I’ll shoot, even if I end up hating everything, at least I went out and did it.

Q: Which photographers or genres inspire you?
A: Gordon Parks, Rodney Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Roy DeCarava are some of my favorites. I think you can kind of tell I’m stuck in the 40’s and 50’s style of street photography. Also, Rodney Smith gives the dream-like, fantasy style to his very stylish images for fashion, which I love.

Q: Any advice for someone interested in picking up photography?
A: Go outside one day and explore with your camera. Understand light and shadows, how it creates context, texture, the differences during the day of what light can give you. I think studying or taking interests in other mediums helps in developing your eye as well. I think you’ll find that what draws you in from paintings or anything art that you like, you see these aspects in life, and it shapes your style.

Q: Do you aspire to turn your passion into your job? What would that look like? Gallery shows, editorial assignments…
A: Yes, I would like to move towards a profession in photography. The dream is to have a gallery showing. I really want to see my pieces printed and displayed. And to be able to provide for myself off of my craft is especially ideal. That is what prompted the move to NYC. This is the place where people come to make it, right?

Eff the Funk Presents: Tai Bickham Photography from eff the funk on Vimeo.

**I hope it goes without saying, but please do not swipe Tai’s amazing photos without her permission!

Also, Tai and I recommend these two films (available on Netflix): PressPausePlay & Black White + Gray.