March 19, 2012
Featuring a Napa Valley resident in the book and on the cover, Chicks with Guns is a gorgeous exploration of the powerful connection between women and their firearms. It offers a cultural portrait of women gun owners in America through photographs that are both beautiful and unexpected. Each portrait is accompanied by a personal statement in the subject’s own words that describe her relationship to firearms and the role they’ve played in her life. Because gun ownership and shooting cut across class, age, occupation, background and geography in America, guns are resolutely democratic. And the women depicted in Chicks with Guns represent this variety. They reside in all regions of the country, come from all levels of society, and participate seriously in diverse shooting activities.
Already in its third printing and touted as the most talked about book for Fall 2011, Chicks with Guns has been featured in Today.com, W, Town & Country, Elle Magazine, Time Magazine, Marie Claire, San Francisco Chronicle, and more! We got a chance to ask Lindsay a few questions about her fascinating book and her inspirations behind it…
You published a book about chicks with guns. How you would describe its message?
Chicks with Guns is a cultural portrait of women gun owners in America. The book examines issues of self-image and gender through the visual conventions of portraiture and fashion. I wanted to look beyond the stereotypes often associated with the culture of both guns and women and document women gun owners in the United States as they really are.
There are 15-20 million women gun owners in this country and as Stephen Meagher writes in the introductory essay, their numbers are high but their profile is low. Chicks with Guns is an exploration of a world rarely seen or even considered in some parts of our country. The women in the book come from all regions of the country, all levels of society, and participate in a broad variety of shooting activities. To me, the diversity of this community was surprising and unexpected.
What inspired you to publish this book?
Since I’m a fine art photographer, my original idea was to get twelve to twenty strong images from the series for an exhibition. From the beginning there was enormous interest and enthusiasm for the project and many felt it would make an interesting photography book.
Out of all the ‘chicks with guns’ in America, how many did you photograph, and how did you narrow it down to the women pictured in your book?
Over the course of three and half years, I travelled across the United States and photographed a total of 280 women with their firearms. As you might imagine, the most difficult part of the project was editing the series to 78 portraits and 81 women.
How did you find your ‘chicks’? Or did some of them find you?
All the women I photographed were found through word of mouth and networking within the community of women shooters. I am grateful to have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet and photograph such a diverse and impressive group of women.
What inspired you to switch from oil painting to photography?
In 2001, I went back to school to get my MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Although I was classically trained in oil painting, I started exploring other media at that time. In 2003, I became fascinated by portrait photography.
Which artists/photographers are you most inspired by?
For The Chicks with Guns series, I was influenced by the anthropologist, Margaret Mead, the German portrait photographer August Sander and the 17th century Spanish court painter, Diego Velasquez.
Other artists and photographers I admire are: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Sharon Lockhart, Pipilotti Rist, Christian Boltanski, Francisco Goya, Jeff Wall, Rineke Dijkstra, James Turrell, Richard Avedon, Thomas Struth, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Keifer, Giovanni Bellini and Alberto Giacometti.
How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?
The title evolved over time. It was originally a short hand, working title I used to describe the series. Surprisingly, it was the women themselves who seemed to really respond to it and like the humor and irony. By the time the publisher signed on, the Chicks with Guns title was attached to the project and he thought it was terrific.
If you had to pick a favorite photo in your book, which one would it be and why?
It would be impossible for me to choose a favorite photograph from the series. There were so many remarkable women and photo shoots during the making of Chicks with Guns.
Do you own a gun? What kind?
I have never owned a gun. I only shoot cameras.
To RSVP for Lindsay’s book signing event and hosted wine reception at Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley, click here.