Robyn Von Swank is a psychic. Years ago when I first met her she was obsessed with bacon and soon after it seemed the world went crazy for the crispy breakfast treat. Later, she was enamored with the classic film Point Break and now everyone’s getting wet at Point Break Live. Coincidence or magick!? I think it is the latter. Miss Von Swank’s knack for capturing macabre whimsy through her lens can make you believe she has a few tricks up her sleeve. Her incredible sense of humor paired with her appreciation for the spookier things in life (and death) make her work a lot of fun to watch. Just who is this ever-evolving Canadian ladywizard with an uncanny ability for predicting absurd trends you ask?! Let’s find out!
+ How did you learn photography? Did you go to school or were you mostly self-taught?
Completely self taught. When I was a teenager I would document everything around me at all times, and eventually I just caught on to how the camera worked.
+ How would you describe your photographic style?
+ Who are some artists that you consider to be major inspirations?
Photography wise I am a huge fan of Eugenio Recuenco and Ali Mahdavi, and of course everyone who ever took part in the early development of Photography. I love me some Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes and Tintypes. Those are actually my biggest influences.
+ What are some of the different kinds of influences you look towards when coming up with ideas for photo shoots?
That is such a hard question because it could be a plethora of things. Sometimes it’s the lighting idea, the atmosphere, or it could just be the new outfit! My favorite shoots are unplanned and sporadic when there is adventure involved. I love just getting in the car and going somewhere…. not knowing what we will find.
+ Which non-living person would you have done anything to have as your subject?
John Hunter in his museum surrounded by his 3,000 specimens. HOT.
+ Tell me about your childhood. Were you always drawn to the darker side of things?
I was a weird fat kid who liked to draw comic books about cows and dress up with my cousin to perform hardcorely awesome renditions of ABBA in the suburban back alleys of Winnipeg. Actually, a lot of my inspirations for everything, especially stories, come from being a child and those worlds you can create then and only then.
+ What films are you obsessed with and consider as influences on your work?
Dude, do you want your entire interview to be this? I love movies lady. Alright, top 10. No, 15!
Heavenly Creatures, Tideland, Adaptation, Silence of the Lambs, Suspiria, Jacob’s Ladder, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Spiderbaby, Opera, LA Story, Batman Returns, The Beyond, They Live! and Even Dwarves Started Small.
Right now I am pretty obsessed with Werner Herzog and Paul Verhoeven. I love insane old weirdos and want to hold hands with them.
+ Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?
Don’t suck. If you do, stop it. I mean, don’t stop taking pictures. Just stop sucking as a person. That is, if you do suck.
Practice. I didn’t learn overnight. All the technical information is right in front of you, both on the internet or in your camera itself. Oh and if you don’t periodically HATE your work and think you SUCK ASS, then you won’t learn anything new. At least that’s how I do it, stress!
+ What’s next in the world of Robyn Von Swank?
Well MARLOW, I have actually just directed 3 music videos, yes 3! Two of them are for the band Mortiis, and one for Combichrist. They will be able to be seen in about a month or so on my website, www.vonswank.com
And I am extremely interested in the continuation of directing as well as writing. Lately I have been working with some of my biggest horror heros and it’s been amazing. I can’t wait to share more stuff with you. But for now, here are some candid behind the scenes photos….
Robyn on the set of Combichrist’s video for “Sent to Destroy”
You can follow more of Robyn Von Swank’s work at her website, vonswank.com !