(Interviewer: Kaitlynn Slaughter, Photo Editor for SPACES)
White Ice–Talking About the Story: Marri Champie
What can I say? I’m a poet who loves how ice forms, and a fisherwoman who loves how light plays off of water.I only wish my fiction writing came as easily as the photos. I suppose my eyes work better with my mind than my inner voice does.They say no two snowflakes are the same. That goes for ice as well… it’s partly fluid, transitive hardening into little bits of art.
Kaitlynn: Who or what are your biggest influences when it comes to your photography? What is your photographic process like?
Marri: My biggest influence is my love for the out-of-doors and for walking–which includes all manner of walking, like hunting and camping, daily walks and sightseeing, and snowshoeing, and fishing, and horseback riding. I am never in a hurry–it’s about the journey–and I see everything. I take hundreds of photos, dozens of the same thing from endlessly different angles. I take photos all the time, of everything. I use my Nikon, my other Nikon, or my Droid. I will never even remember where a photo is, on what camera. I take pictures of my food, of my shadow, of tree leaves, of ice and frost, of cut hay and fields of baled straw, of wildfire fighting, of light on water. I like patterns, geometric things, and ice or frost always creates geometry. I love buildings and ruins and things with line and design. I really like getting closer. I take the big picture and then get closer and closer shots of the same thing. And if getting closer doesn’t work for the end result, I crop. I am a busy, annoying person behind a camera.
My favorite picture in the White Ice series is the one of the frost flowers with the black background. Those were a series of dozens of photos actually, taken mostly with my Droid, of the tiny frost flowers that had formed on top of the solid ice on my horse water tank. I think it happened on two or three different mornings last winter, yet in all the years I’ve lived in Idaho, I had never seen that before. I had never seen anything like it anywhere, and I took photos until the frost began to collapse. I looked up the phenomenon later, and found photos of huge seas of frost flowers in the arctic…. on vast stretches of ocean. But those that I took were not doctored or changed in any way. The frost flowers were no bigger than the top joint of my thumb. The pictures were just natural, taken in full sunlight first thing in the morning. That’s what happens when you keep your artistic eyes open.
When I got my minor in photography it was before the University even got a digital lab. I would spend hours in the darkroom working on prints. I was passionate about black and white, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love color. Now, I play with some of my color photos, turning them to black and white. It brings out the geometrics of a photo. When the photo is black and white, you see the line and structure more.
Kaitlynn: You say that you also write poetry – does your poetry ever impact your photos (or vice versa)?
Marri: Sometimes images just linger with me. It will often be an image I have shot, but sometimes it never made it to camera. When I write, I see those images clearly. They never fade. They are hung in the gallery of my head and heart, and my poems and my prose will try to capture the shot. I have poems about ice on the horse trough and frost in the meadow.
Marri Champie has an MA in Writing, with minors in photography and Earth Science. She won three Dell Awards for Fantasy/Science Fiction, and is a published poet and novelist, photographer and journalist. She is the media manager for the Kuna Farmer’s Market and writes a weekly column for the local Kuna-Melba News. She lives on a small ranch overlooking the Great Basin of Idaho with her horses and Jack Russell terriers.