“Photography has become my voice, a way to share my dream world with viewers,” says Mandy Altimus Pond. “My photographs depict stories of broken hearts, faraway lands, love stories, soltitude. Each scenario is possible, yet unlikely, and ultimately interesting.”
Pond’s day job as archivist for the Massillon Museum regularly puts her in close contact with striking vintage photography.
Other artistic outlets include performing with the local improv comedy troupe Scared Scriptless and singing with Voices of Canton.
“I have always had a love of photography, taking my first picture at age 4,” she said. “I was raised in a very artistic and encouraging home.”
Pond’s photography has become increasingly elaborate, with photo shoots involving many costumed models and themes of TV’s “Mad Men” and “Cinderella.”
Here, the photographer talks about her processes and influences — and about how she uses photography to re-create scenes from the past.
Q. SOME OF YOUR IMAGES LOOK LIKE VINTAGE FASHION-MAGAZINE LAYOUTS. ARE YOU A FASHIONISTA?
A. “I really love the look of vintage clothes and hair styles. My grandmother, Cheri Mohn, saved a lot of her fashionable clothing from the 1960s. I find a lot of inspiration in her closet. I have always been drawn to fashion photography. I am not a traditionally ‘girly girl’ in my own appearance.
I prefer to dress other people up and point my camera at them. Don’t get me wrong, though — I will still throw on a hoop skirt and Civil War ball gown, no questions asked.”
Q.TELL ME ABOUT YOUR “MAD MEN” PHOTO SHOOT — WHO, WHEN AND WHERE?
A. “I had 10 models come out for our early morning photo shoot in December 2012. The location was the FirstMerit building in downtown Massillon. They intend to demolish the building later this year. Luckily for us, the furniture was already there, unused, and ready for us to play with. Most of the clothes were picked out by the models themselves. It helps to have fashionably smart friends who are knowledgeable in putting together great looks with the perfect shoes!”
Q. IT’S DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT ERA TO CAPTURE.
A. “The biggest challenge was the drinking and smoking. It was early morning and no one was going to really be drinking whiskey! We used iced tea in 1960s glasses. We could not light any cigarettes inside, so every time you see smoke, that had to be added digitally.”
Q. DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE A MOVIE DIRECTOR?
A. “I do. I love getting all of the elements together: people, makeup, clothes, locations, props, help. I usually have a vague idea of what I want when I’m on set, which allows the models to have input, or for me to change my mind once I see the whole scene with people. I like to be flexible. And unlike movie directors, I don’t have to worry about recording sound!”
Q. IT SOUNDS VERY,VERY FUN.
A. “There is something magical about asking your friends to come and play dress up at weird locations at all hours of the day and night — and they show up!”
Q. DO YOU EVER DO FOR-HIRE PROJECTS?
A. “Rarely, because they are someone else’s vision. My rule is no weddings. Event photography scares me — you have one shot to get it right. And the probability of bridezilla and her new crazy mother-in-law being picky is something I don’t want to deal with.”
Q. IS THE CAMERA EQUIPMENT LESS IMPORTANT THAN YOUR EYE?
A. “Even if you have the best equipment in the world, you aren’t going to make good photographs if you don’t know where to point the camera. There is an art to appropriately framing something in your lens, knowing what angle to shoot from, where the light is, and what to focus on.”