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Gallery

Melissa Ann Pinney’s intimate, candid portraits capture the intimacy and self-sufficiency of girlhood.

Her latest book, Girl Ascending, is a glowing tribute to girlhood’s private spaces.

Melissa Ann Pinney has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, among others. Her photographs have been exhibited widely and are part of numerous collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Creative Photography, George Eastman House, the International Center for Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art. Her first book, Regarding Emma: Photographs of American Women and Girls, was published in 2003 by the Center for American Places. Pinney has taught photography at Columbia College Chicago since 1984 and resides in Evanston, Ill.

Images used with permission. All images © copyright the artist, all rights reserved.

TMN:

When you’re photographing teenage girls, what do you identify with most?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Their sense of fun and intimacy together.

TMN:

What do you identify with least?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Leaving the house with intentionally visible bra and bra straps.

TMN:

Have you watched Girls on HBO? Your opinion of it in six words or less?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Terrific and not for the faint-hearted.

TMN:

How do projects begin for you?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

With an insistent idea I’m compelled to follow.

TMN:

When do they end?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

With a book, a show, a deadline.

TMN:

What’s your favorite camera at the moment?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

It’s between my Mamiya 7II and my iPhone camera.

TMN:

Does your daughter ever turn the camera on you?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Yes, we’re now making a double self-portrait every day of her senior year.

TMN:

When do women outgrow girlhood?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

I hope we never outgrow the playfulness and self-sufficiency of girlhood.

TMN:

Which is your favorite airport?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

The little airport on Maui. You can smell the ocean.

TMN:

Coffee or tea?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Tea.

TMN:

Newspapers or radio?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Radio.

TMN:

When was the last time you cringed?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

The wedding-gown scene in Bridesmaids.

TMN:

When are children at their most noble?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

When they’re with animals.

TMN:

Do you nap?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Yes—it’s a necessary result of being a night-owl.

TMN:

What makes for better art, working with family or working with strangers?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Strangers are always more cooperative than family.

TMN:

What’s your least favorite aspect of parenting?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

Eventually they become teenagers.

TMN:

Where will you eat dinner tonight and with whom?

Melissa Ann Pinney:

After Emma’s volleyball game, I’ll eat at home with my family.