British photographer MOLLIE DENDLE delivers a unique and newfangled approach to capturing women on film. Through her ample experience in street casting, Mollie employs an unconventional method to creating beautiful images that stand in stark contrast from the rest. Get thrilled for the launch of her debut book and solo exhibition, ‘Everything you see here is real’ next year.
What initially motivated you to become a photographer?
I have a photographic memory and therefore my whole life and all my memories are in snapshots. I didn’t want these snapshots to remain just memories. I wanted people to see what I see.
Your work employs a ‘stripped-down’ aesthetic – could you explain why this is cardinal for you?
I want my audience to look at an image and instantly feel like they know the muse. It is impossible to capture someone’s personality when everything around the image is manufactured by other creatives (photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, creative directors etc.). I think this is why a lot of my work is semi-nude, because when you give female models the freedom to express how they want to be shot, the most stripped-down outfit is nudity – it’s just one of many ways to be shot that they aren’t often given the opportunity to do in a trusting environment / safe space that I offer.
You predominantly shoot women – what is it about photographing these women that you adore the most?
I have a bond with women that I find hard to recreate when shooting men. I love how there is no sexual agenda, even when shooting nude images.
Your photography style is very candid, allowing a voice to emerge from the subject, as well as the image. Why is this important to you?
I believe a model must speak through an image as much as a photographer does because the individuals I scout and shoot have SO much to say.
When shooting, how do you typically manage to accomplish this candid style?
You can’t fake candidacy. I usually spend the whole day with my muses (tea and ciggy breaks, relationship chats all included). I really get to know them before shooting so that by the time I pick up my camera it’s like capturing a friend.
What do you generally look for when casting your models?
I look for outspoken and diverse looking individuals. You can be outspoken before actually speaking – Arvida Bystrom is a prime example of this. A person’s body shape and height is irrelevant to me. A lot of the time I scout people that I want to be.
By not traveling down the customary route of studying for a photography degree, do you feel that you have been able to discover your individual style sooner than if you had been taught by others?
I didn’t go to art school because my art teachers at school didn’t understand my art. So in a sense I am glad I didn’t study photography, where I would be confined to curriculums and further subjective grading. However, I do have massive cravings to be taught, not through an institution but by other likeminded photographers.
Quentin Tarantino famously shunned film school, stating that he “went to films instead” – do you feel that your experience in street casting has invigorated your approach to your work?
Yes! I have a bottom up approach to producing a beautiful image. Instead of having a concept and casting appropriately for it. The individuals I scout are the concept and I work creatively from there in collaboration with them.
Your debut book and solo exhibition, “Everything you see here is real” launches next year – could you tell us about it?
‘Everything you see here is a real’ is a collection of intimate images of some of this generations most interesting and outspoken characters. The images give a rare insight into these individuals in their most authentic states – shot at home, self-styled and without Photoshop. I have decided the location for my solo exhibition but I shall be keeping my cards close to my chest until closer to the time, hehe.
What message do you ultimately aim to convey through your work?
See more of Mollie’s work here: