Joyce Tenneson
Joyce Tenneson

PDN: As I was looking through the book, I noticed that everyone's eyes look the same, that they all contain a very deep, mirrored reflection. . . . Is this intentional?

JOYCE TENNESON: People often say that about the people in my books. I think it's because when I photograph someone, I'm very interested in his or her deeper self. I think the eyes are a mirror of the soul. And because I'm interested in the soul of the people I photograph, then the eyes become very dominant.

PDN: How does Light Warriors relate to your earlier book Transformations [Bulfinch Press, 1994]?

Transformations cover

Transformations frontispiece
JOYCE TENNESON: The photographs in Transformations are more self-absorbed—viewers often feel they are getting a glimpse at a private inner world. The images from Light Warriors are more direct—the women are looking out at the world—questioning and often asking for a response.

But there is also a continuation. For example, if you look at the cover image of Transformations, Suzanne, you see the complexity of the issues that I've always been interested in. And then if you look at the frontispiece to Transformations, it is once again a portrait of Suzanne holding a mirror, in which you see her face reflected. The photograph is very similar to the frontispiece of Light Warriors, which is an image of a friend of mine, Melinda, with a kind of bird wing with light emanating from it. In a way, this is a mirror, kind of her inner self, with light emanating from it. It's a progression but I think that you can see references to my earlier work all the way through.

PDN: How have you seen your work evolve over the years?

JOYCE TENNESON: I think I've been lucky in that I feel the work has evolved effortlessly. I've never really had to force it or push it. When I finish one project, it seems to become a book, and I've been lucky to find publishers willing to pay for it. I feel very lucky about that. And the minute I finish a book, I always feel like, "Oh, I'll never do another book, I've said what I need to say." But then, slowly, something else starts pushing inside of me. I'm already halfway through my next book!

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