More than just dreamy, ‘Coming of Age’ is Petra Collins’ clear-eyed monograph

Petra Collins: Coming of Age, by Petra Collins, Laurie Simmons, and Marilyn Minter, Rizzoli New York, 2017.

A generous 150 photographs make the monograph titled ‘Petra Collins: Coming of Age’ that is, all in, a full 208 pages of Petra Collins. The widely loved, Canadian-born photographer is known for her pastel-laden, daydream-like images of girls in their teens to late twenties. Though visually romanticized her images offer a revealing glimpse of emotional reality–intimate in nature and incisive in their collective conscious. Petra is only 24 herself, and her work has been shaped by the times in which it came to be starting at 15, that is online. Beyond the visuals which includes family photographs and editorial work, there are contributions by Laurie Simmons, Marilyn Minter as well as Karley Sciortino, Alessandro Michele (of which Collins frequently shoots and collaborates with for Gucci) and more for a thoughtful observation of her work and its place in modern times. spoke with the young, prodigious photographer on her third and most comprehensive book.

What was the most challenging thing about putting the book together?
Looking back at my life and really being honest with myself. Realizing that things were darker then they appeared. It was also hard editing the book down! It’s 10 years of work, meaning I have so many images and words that didn’t make it into this book! It’s easy to select the work but it is hard to edit that down. Almost painful–but a good pain–and I learned a lot–got to flex my curatorial education.

Has compiling this latest book led to any new discoveries about your work? Has it inspired you?
I’ve definitely discovered a lot about myself through this process. Having a greater understanding of the emotions that went into each photo, seeing what I was struggling with at the time and how it was reflected in the images. It has empowered me and it has fueled my creativity. It’s exciting to see how all the dark things that happened in my life were dealt with in the imagery and it feels good to know I can continue to use the camera as therapy for myself and others.

Have you ever felt pressure, internal or external, to deviate from the motifs that have driven your work?
Never–because my motifs ARE me–so however those transpire and morph are a reflection of my growth.

The conversation with Marilyn Minter in the book is great. How did it come about, with regards to impressing on and examining your own work?
Marilyn has been a huge supporter of my work and I have always been a big fan of hers. The way she looks at my work is so beautiful and personal–she really understands why I create things. Our conversations are always fun and investigative and this one was especially like that. We really had to edit it down because we spoke for hours!

Released, has it been a cathartic process overall?
Extremely. But there is more catharsis that needs to come.

Petra Collins: Coming of Age can be purchased here.

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