PDN: How did you get your start in photography?
JOYCE TENNESON: My career in photography goes back almost 30
years now. I was very interested in the arts all my life, and went to a small
Catholic girls school, where I majored in literature and minored in art. We had
a very small program, and no photography. When I did my Masters degree, I took
a concentration in photography and art history. And luckily, back then, teaching
jobs were more available, so I was right away able to teach on a college level,
and started the first photo program in Washington, D.C., at a community college.
I then moved on to the Corcoran School of Art, and the Smithsonian, among other
PDN: You grew up on the grounds of a convent where your parents worked.
How did that affect your work later on?
JOYCE TENNESON: I think that for artists who specialize in mining
their inner territory, like I do, early life experiences are always very pivotal.
And I think the fact that I grew up in such a rich environment, in terms of ritual
and the unconsciousa world of symbolsI feel very comfortable in those
areas of the unconscious. And I think that I still have a lifelong repertoire
of images to mine.
PDN: You photograph all body shapes and sizes. . .but what is it you
see in potential subjects beyond the physical?
JOYCE TENNESON: I'm really curious about people. I like people.
People are the center of my life. And I'm curious about their inner life, you
know, what they don't show on the surface, and that's really what I'm interested
in. And so when I photograph people, I try to get down below that surface, and
to really key in to the deep levels.