“Before making my own photos, I expressed myself in front of the camera through movement. Over time, I branched out to see what the world looked like through another lens. Since then, I’ve grown to become inspired by challenges — my favorite being manipulation of the human eye. Though perspective is subjective, I’ve captured mine for your, and my own entertainment.”
Monét Lovee is a force to be reckoned with. As a rare gem in the photography world, Monét is a self-taught artist with a knack for capturing raw emotion in all of her subjects. With a single snap of her lens, Monét is able to capture years and lifetimes of stories. With the click of her camera, she is able to distill whatever her subject feels, whether it be pain or joy, down to a pure essence and bottle it up into one single frame. Hailing from Buffalo New York, a city with a bubbling music and creative scene, Monét is on track to become the next big thing out of the city of light. I caught up with Monét to find out more about the woman behind the lens:
The Knockturnal: Tell me a little bit about yourself and what first opened the door of photography for you?
Monét Lovee: I am a visual artist that captures aesthetically pleasing moments on a Nikon d3400, though it wasn’t always this way. Just one year ago, my next steps in life mirrored those of most college graduates: get a good job or go to grad school. I was going along with the motions, but I was positive that I would NOT be doing either post-grad.
No one in my life told me that I would be different. Actually, no one even had to because I always knew. You know that feeling in your stomach you feel when you get nervous? How deeply ingrained it is that you don’t have to think to feel it? That’s how I feel and have always felt about being “different,” and I’ve known that since the day I was born.
By now, I had already received my first camera but I wasn’t really sure where it could take me financially and/or creatively. Graduation was approaching fast and passed by just as quickly. Even after graduation, I was still interviewing with companies and holding on to a dream that wasn’t mine. I had to make a change, so I prayed. I prayed for guidance, for strength and most important, I prayed for faith. And soon after, I woke up.”
The Knockturnal: So photography was very instrumental to your own personal growth and development:
Monét Lovee: Yes, had I not found photography, I wouldn’t have realized that: One, I have a purpose to fulfill two, following the less beaten path is rewarding and three uncertainty is a very large part of growth. If I could tell young Moe anything, it would be to trust yourself and your judgment. You got this, girl!
The Knockturnal: Were there any artistic inspirations or personal inspirations who have inspired you on your journey?
Monét Lovee: As an only child, I didn’t have siblings or many friends my age, so I read a lot. My imagination would create images in my head while I read each line. It was like a film that I would unintentionally create. So I always had my own tv in my head as long as I had words to read. The ability to see the end product before the beginning of production is a challenge, yet a gift bestowed upon me. When I was about six years old, my mom bought me a Barbie polaroid. I loved that thing. I still have some of my first photos ever. When I got older, I learned about all of the photos my family kept over the years. Apparently, when my grandmother moved to Buffalo, NY from Hattiesburg, MS, she brought a ton of photo albums with her. Seeing photos of my mom growing up, and my grandmother and her 7 siblings inspired me. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I was continuing to document history the way that I experience and see it. Currently, most of my inspiration comes from traveling, engaging with foreign cultures and communities (i.e. study abroad and the domestic exchange program at Spelman), and my insatiable desire to try new things.
The Knockturnal: If you could put your photography style and shooting methods into your own words, what would that look like?
Monét Lovee: I shoot by the 3 I’s: innovative, impulsive and [at times] impromptu. A lot of my images come from manipulating what I have access to, which could mean just a subject and a location. Whatever my set looks like, I find ways to make up for what I don’t have. I ensure that I shoot on my emotional impulses and also allow my work to reflect how I feel at that point in my life. Currently, my work has been edgy, colorful, soft and very diverse. If you know me, I can be all of those things.
And at times, I just have my camera and find cool stuff – who needs a set? But when I can, I like to collaborate with other creatives. Fortunately enough, I was recently afforded the opportunity to shoot for a local magazine, and if all goes as planned, I’ll be featured in my first magazine this upcoming winter.
The Knockturnal: What do you want the world to know about your work and how it interplays with your identity as an artist:
Monét Lovee: As someone who grew up in poverty, disenfranchised communities and violence, I know how difficult it can be to find outlets like art. All of the pain I felt as a child was often very obvious in the way that I approached people and in my attitude. I would often let my circumstances define me as a person, and that was a mistake I made for too many years. If my work could say anything about me, it would scream “I am not defined by my current condition.” Even though my budgets are often $0, I don’t have any lighting setups and can’t afford any backdrops, I never let that determine who I am as an artist. My art reflects my passion, skill and the fact that I am a force to be reckoned with. Let’s create.