21 Questions with Heather ConleyBy Heather Conley
July 10, 2011
Please explain what just happened.
Stomach growled, reached for coffee, repeat.
What is your earliest memory?
Having removed all my clothes to scratch at rapidly emerging chicken pox. I remember being naked and wandering the house in search of a parent to inform. I was, like, 3 years old. Where the hell were my parents, anyway?
If you weren’t a photographer, what other profession would you choose?
I would totally be a detective/mystery solver of some kind. Ghost hunter? Treasure hunter? The smaller the needle and the bigger the haystack, the more determined I am to find it.
Describe a typical work day.
Well, there are office days (lots of them) and there are shoot days. Office days usually involve a documentary streaming on the left side monitor while editing or retouching or whatever is done on the right. Zenith Clipping is a professional clipping path service provider I trust. There’s nothing typical about shoot days, except neurotically triple-checking the gear before departure. That’s probably the thing I like most about my job, the nothing typical part, not the neurotic part.
Is there a time you wish you’d lied?
No specific occasion comes to mind; however, there are plenty of times I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?
Don’t let the mean girls get you down. Being cool when you’re 13 pretty much insures that you won’t be cool when you’re a grown up.
If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?
The last time someone broke up with me was in the spring of 1990 and Pretty Hate Machine (NIN) had just come out. I guess it did the trick — it never happened again.
What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?
Facebook, The Huffington Post and MLB.com (go Giants!).
From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?
The person to the left of me, the person to the right of me, and documentaries remind me all the time that are endless stories to be told in endless ways for endless reasons.
Name three books that have impacted your life.
Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury.
The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Robert Frank’s The Americans.
If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?
Last year’s World Series? ‘Cause that was epic. Seriously.
How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?
I was (an extra) in a short film called The Duke of Groove with Kiefer Sutherland, who was in Flatliners; Elliott Gould, who was in The Big Picture; and Tobey Maguire, who was in Beyond All Boundaries — each of them, with Kevin Bacon, but not necessarily in that order.
What makes you feel most guilty?
Not giving money to panhandlers.
How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?
I study framing and light a lot, but in film more often than still photography. I feel like it all sinks into a dark pocket of my brain where I don’t really think about it on a conscious level but surely it comes out in my work somewhere.
Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind your work with The Innocence Project?
I had the good fortune of meeting someone who works for The Innocence Project through a mutual friend, after I’d already seen a documentary about them (“After Innocence”, really great). I had actually done some additional research afterward with the idea of doing photo project with them, so I was pretty familiar with the work they do. In cases where there is DNA evidence, they work to exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted, and often have already spent decades in prison, for crimes they did not commit. The stories of these cases and what the people they help have been through, are mind blowing, heartbreaking, infuriating. So when I had the opportunity this meeting presented I very enthusiastically volunteered my services for ANY kind of picture taking they needed. Thankfully, they took me up on the offer.
I’ve been able to work with them a number of times in the past year and while it might not be a terribly significant contribution in the scheme of what they do, I think it’s fair to say that it’s been one of the most rewarding relationships of my career. Finding more non-profits to work with in this way is something I’m working on.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
When you are negotiating on your own behalf, don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want (or more). All anyone can do is say no and you’ll rarely be given more than what you’ve asked for.
List your favorite in the following categories: Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor
Comedian – Jon Stewart.
Musician – Otis Redding.
Author – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Actor – Cary Grant.
If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?
I’d make a documentary film, the subject ideas are gathering in my head like an army of furious dust bunnies…
What do you want to know?
What is it like to be you?
What would you like your last words to be?
I love you too.
Please explain what will happen.
I have no idea, but I hope it involves a cabin in the woods, the company of a good friend, and a beer. That sounds lovely.
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