An oldie in new clothes! “The Tenants” by Mia Makila, 2019, digital collage (based on a work from 2006).
I had a wonderful day out with my artist friend Mats Tusenfot the other day and got really great photos. Mats has these amazing light blue eyes that really draws you in, that’s what I wanted to capture, but in black and white.
“Mats Tusenfot” – photography by Mia Makila, May 2017
click images to enlarge.
© 2017 MIA MAKILA
photography by mia makila
I woke up with a cold but that didn’t stop me from taking a walk in the colorful autumn landscape. There, I found inspiration for many things. But most of all, I found some inner peace.
I’ve spent so many years editing the photographs of my collaboration with Domenique from 2009. In only one summer, we created almost 20 different characters together. The camera was our love child. We were like lovers in the creativity process – using intuition and instincts as our langunge, we did’t need to speak, we knew exactly what was needed in order to bring the characters to life. I loved working with Domenique but sadly her life started to fall apart at the time and rapidly slipped into a destructive lifestyle of drugs and drama. So I ended it and moved to Stockholm, stopped working with photography – and sold my camera. I am still without a professional camera. But when I have more money I will buy a Canon instead of going back to Nikon. I am a Canon kind of gal.
I have evolved immensely as an artist since that summer. I know more about photography editing now, my PhotoShop skills are more advanced and I collected new knowledge about retouch and portrait editing during the two months I spent as an intern at a photo studio last fall. So I can go back to my photo projects and make totally new pictures now just because I am so much better at the editing process.
But what does it mean to edit photographs? It’s so much more than to adjust light and shadow or cropping. It’s about bringing the photo to life – and to create harmony and a balance in the colors.
Here are two versions of the same photo, first the original picture and the newly edited version where I have played around with both colors and expression. The original photo is softer, more stylish – but I wanted to say more than that – and I wanted the expression to be more powerful and direct.
Sometimes, I see new potential in already edited photos, I go back and start over, like this:
Other times, I use the projects with Domenique as a base for my digital art – like I did in “The Crash” (2012):
I have such a treasure trove in my computer. I love editing these photographs from my projects with Domenique. I WILL make something amazing with all these one day. Art show. Photo book. Whatever. I feel so inspired. And I will also add a photography category to my art section on this website (you find it in the menu at the top of the page).
One of my favorite photo projects I made with Domenique in 2009 is the one about Miss Lonely Hearts – a very lonely woman living with an inflatable man and a doll as her only family (although Domenique’s dog occasionally crashed the shoot). I wrote a script, planned everything from wigs, costumes, settings and location. At the time, I was deeply inspired by my favorite photographer Lars Tunbjörk (who captured the soul of Sweden in his photography while he was alive). Although the project is of a sad nature, it turned out pretty funny, thanks to Domenique’s outrageous spontaneity and my sense of humor. It wasn’t until a few year after the project that I understood that it was some kind of a cry for help – that I was the real Miss Lonely Hearts and that my relationship at the time was dead and I felt extremely lonely.
Here are some of the photos from the Miss Lonely Hearts photo shoot and below is a making-of video in Swedish (with my ex boyfriend Jimmy’s extremely loud voice narrating the video in a goofy way, I wasn’t as good at making videos then as I am now, sorry about that). I made the photographs ugly and everything in the story was supposed to be ugly to highlight the uncomfortable nature of loneliness.
My hormones are not in balance and I’m having a hard time focusing on the painting. But it’s not only the hormones that is messing with my concentration. My mind feels like it’s about to explode from inspiration. It’s totally overloaded with ideas right now. I’m not complaining, it’s a wonderful experience to be able to create again – but it’s like every idea is restless and wants to jump out of me – all at the same time. I feel a little lightheaded. My mind is overcrowded with creative possibilities and I don’t have the mental stamina to keep up with them. I am painting, making digital art, creating things for the blog, writing, making sketches and now I am also re-editing old photo projects with Domenique. I have ideas for short stories, novels, children’s books, children’s books for adults, ideas for collages, drawings and sculptures, painting techniques that I want to experiment with – and I’m thinking a lot about how I can use the photo projects in a good way. I need to rethink the original idea, it’s just not gonna happen.
It all started in 1992 when I first met Domenique – and the year after we started making photo projects together. She wanted to be a model, I wanted to become an artist. She soon turned into my muse. We never stopped working together even though years could pass in between our meetings. In 2009 I decided to take our projects to a new level. It would be a collection of our works – my documentary photography of Domenique as a person and my own scripted ideas about identity, gender and sexuality told through hundreds of different characters that Domenique would embody in front of my camera. I spent thousands of dollars buying wigs, masks, costumes, props and accessories. I still have a whole box full of weird stuff from that time. It’s my favorite box.
We created more than 20 projects together in the summer of 2009. It was around the time when I started to feel blocked in my art. After that intense summer with Domenique – I totally crashed. I broke up with my boyfriend, slipped into a depression, stopped making art and moved to Stockholm – away from Domenique. She had her own problems to deal with, heavy problems. Life was tearing us apart and away from each other and our artistic connection. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to work with Domenique again. I hope so but it’s not very likely.
That’s why I need to rethink the concept of these projects. I have all these wonderful portraits of Domenique. If I’m not gonna tell the story about her through the characters, what other stories are hidden in there?
More questions to add to my already overloaded mind…
All artworks by Ruud Van Empel
All photographs by Joseph McGlennon
All photographs by Chris Anthony
Photography by Yvonne Todd
In the summer of 2009 I was involved in a voluminous photography collaboration with my muse Domenique. Every week we would meet up at a diner and have brainstorming sessions, coming up with characters and planning props, costumes and make up for. We were playing around with the concept of ‘identity’ – inspired by Cindy Sherman of course. I would write scripts for the characters, we would visit vintage stores to buy the necessary outfits and props. I was lucky that Domenique is a make-up artist and a hair stylist as well as a model because I don’t have any talent for those things. Instead, I was the photographer and the ‘director’ during the photo shoots.
But the ‘Natascha suite’ wasn’t something we planned, it just happened – thanks to Domenique’s creative mind.
That day we were supposed to shoot another project, but when Domenique knocked on my front door, dressed in one of those Elizabethan collars (her dog had just been sick), barking at me and telling me she’s got this cool idea about a ‘wolf lady’, we found ourselves planning a new project, in the heat of the moment, and we had so much fun during the photo shoot, you can tell that I couldn’t stop laughing behind my camera:
I love this photo session because it was such a creative day, when something unexpected takes over something planned and controlled.
You can see more of my photography projects with Domenique at my tumblr blog THE MUSE AND THE CAMERA.