JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
QUINN MILTON: When I was very little, an actress. My brother was going to get me an agent and everything at the age of 10. As I grew older, I became more interested in writing, which is still something I hope to incorporate into future photography projects. But at 26, I’m still trying to figure everything out.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
QM: Maybe not so much inspiring me as challenging me, is this city. We have been in a perpetual winter for months now. As someone who loves to photograph light, the constant gloominess has been a challenge, but has also inspired me to look at this city differently and find ways to photograph it in ways I haven’t before.
JC: What are you up to right now?
QM: I am trying to venture into the print world. I think it’s tremendously important to see your work in a tangible way, to hold it in your hand instead of seeing it solely on a computer screen. Working to get myself organized and financially stable enough to complete a book encompassing my work from Africa.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
QM: It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve really pushed myself to share my photography with others. My boyfriend, Russ Augustine, has been instrumental in encouraging me to put myself out there and keep working at it, which I am grateful for. It makes a huge difference to have one person in your corner telling you you’re not crazy to be spending all your money on film.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
QM: I am based out of Chicago, IL, USA. This city is constantly changing, so it forces me to always keep my eyes open. A piece of graffiti today might be whitewashed tomorrow. A blizzard tonight could yield to a heat wave next week. I’ve seen the President give his acceptance speech in Grant Park, and paraded down the center of Michigan Avenue for two Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championships. It’s an exciting place to be.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
QM: Learning the technical aspects of photography is hugely important. Now use that knowledge without deadlines or critiques. There is a freedom after finishing school that allows you the time to really create what you’re passionate about, not just what’s required to graduate.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
QM: Sometimes I think I’m still looking for my plan A, everyone goes through life a bit blind. But I don’t think photography would ever be completely eliminated from the equation.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
QM: Photography was just my minor in college, so I was always a bit on the fringes of the photo community – which is vast here in Chicago. I think my personality leans a bit more toward the independent side, so I prefer to be more on my own, but I think that sort of tight, supportive community can benefit a lot of people greatly.