I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved and enjoyed interviewing this inspiring, kick-a$$ woman! Max is all the rave (bringing back that word so hard!) I got goosebumps looking at her pictures and I know I am usually prone to exaggeration but I have no reason for bias.
Max is beautiful, mind, heart and eyes. This interview will spark a fire in your soul. Ghosh, if you do not leave inspired or in love with Max then I will be making some serious prayers for you.
1. Max, who are you and why are you so brilliant?
Hahahaaa!!! I think it’s all this tea I drink… that’s probably it. I am a Photographic Artist whose work is a large embodiment of self and a lot of the things I strongly believe and stand for.
2. On documentaries and photography, why did you choose this field?
Photography is my chosen tool of communication, more like it chose me actually. It’s how I choose to express, communicate, engage and inform. Documentation of any kind is really important, its a great way to engage and understand history and long after our time, it will be another way for the future generation to get an insight into our lives. It’s not just great for history lessons but a great way to understand everything you are to know about what is going on in the world, in your country, in your neighbourhood. I could really go on, but what Im trying to say is imagery always leaves a mark on me. I will remember images and faces anything visual more than I will text. If an image is strong, I want to know more about it, it could be an image of the most mundane thing, but if it is strong, I want to know more. Visual documentation comes a whole lot more naturally to me than other forms, so, that’s why photography. (Gee I really could have said all of that in one sentence huh)
3. Safe Spaces. Looking at the pictures, which I found raw, vulnerable, daring…how did it make you feel working on that project? How did you get the subjects to trust you with their story?
To be honest it’s a privilege to be let into anyone’s personal space and be allowed to document it. On some days I was a fly on the wall, on some days I laughed and engaged in conversation with the girls, ate with them. On other days I held my tears back and sat still with the girls. I felt all kinds emotions, but mostly a sense of comfort, I didn’t have to be someone else around them, I was myself. I would say that is how I got the girls to trust me with their story. I guess when you’re genuine with your intention for documentation it shows and rubs off. It’s very easy to unawarely appropriate human beings and misrepresent them, so you always have to be aware of the privilege that you have been given and not take it for granted.
4. What makes your work phenomenal is the social impact behind it. It is not about what’s pretty and cute, it has depth. This is what’s going on in our society, this is what’s wrong and you give us a jump start to the solutions by creating awareness. How do you choose your projects and, how important is truth in the projects you take on?
Like I mentioned earlier, my work is a large embodiment of self. If what and who I am representing and documenting is not authentic and fabricated in a way that doesn’t dully give a true sense of what is going on, then who am I? I get very personal with my work and literally submerge myself into the people’s lives, which I know sometimes can be a negative, however I do believe that unless you truly understand the people you choose to represent and get a true sense of experience in their lives through conversation and other experiences , you’re just another one of ‘those guys’. I guess I choose my projects based on my personal experiences or experiences of friends, what I am currently rooting and advocating for as a person, what I think needs to be engaged in conversation by people that I believe are empathetic towards each other even though we have a hard way of showing it.
5. You and I share two things in common (probably more if we grab some tea). We are both November babies, and nothing turns us on like women ‘women empowerment’. It’s March, therefore Women’s month. What women have inspired you in your field to push the envelop?
First of all Evelyn, we need to have tea together sometime… like frfr!! For a while I had no female photographers to look up to, the photographers I knew of were all male. So when I first got introduced to female photographers like Diane Arbus, Lisette Model (who I did a whole paper on) and their work I was in awe, it was such a great feeling, I wanted to know more, I wanted to do more, as a woman. I have since gotten to know more females in the industry(hi Annie Leibovitz.. hi Auntie :D), but mostly black African female photographers have given me a whole sense of will power. Women like Zanelle Muholi, Thandiwe Muriu, Sarah Waiswa, Yagazie Amezi and Lyra Aoko. I admire the photographers that they are, the women that they are and stand for. It’s just beautiful to see other women thriving at what they do.
6. The facial emotions in your ‘On Assignment‘ project are a very real-every-day sort of emotions/expressions. What’s the best thing about studying people through your photography?
People watching is one of my favourite things to do. I could literally sit and watch people all day. Human beings are so interesting, (turns out most of the time even more with their mouths closed.. Hi Onesmus :/) Studying people really gives a sort of little super power, you understand body language better, little gestures here and there, whether in silence or in a loud space, you get to know a person even before you have a conversation with them.
7. The Men’s project documentary. This is how I found out about your site and never looked back. What was your goal and vision for this project? Do you have future projects such as this to come?
Ermmm…to dismantle the patriarchy.. do I have to say more? Seriously though, at first I just wanted to create this intimate safe space that allowed for vulnerability and sharing on a level that we don’t usually get to experience with some of our Ugandan men, and then I wanted to create an understanding of how the past may or may not affect us as human beings, our identity, mentally physically and emotionally. I wanted to create a space to start conversation that will help bridge gaps. I don’t have any future projects directly related to this at the moment, there are some projects that you would like for other people to carry on with in different forms in order for them to reach a wider audience. I was just scrolling through my notes and came across this text I saved;
As an individual, one’s views can be narrow, limited and heavily focused.”
I hope that makes sense in this context.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to become full time cinematographers and are afraid to take the leap?
This fear thing you and I know we sometimes give it so much power. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, you will get super broke maybe, but that will most probably be at the beginning and temporary. I say do it… go for it, grab it, no it will probably not be easy, adjusting, mentally, physically and emotionally, but do it, take that leap, it could be end up being the best thing that ever happened to you.
9. What’s your mantra?
“The way you speak to yourself matters” I don’t quite remember where I read this but its really stuck with me. So my mantras change… all the time, depending on how Im feeling or dealing. This week’s is ‘I am a Lotus Flower’
10. 3 life lessons you want to leave with us.
The first would be one that I’m constantly saying…. be your own person.. be yourself. You really do learn the hard way trying be someone else, most of the time it’s not worth it either. Instead, read, explore, grow! Growth is so beautiful, no matter how small.
Female friendships are beautiful and one of the things you’ll forever hold dear, forget all that yada yada some lame person tried to tell you about other females, drama has got nothing to do with gender, it really does come down to character and individualism.
After Satan… hate men. Yeah I’m playing, a friend of mine just sent me that, but no seriously.. no? So I believe that the world is so much bigger than ourselves, find your thing that gives you a greater sense of belonging and soul. If that thing is God, yay you, if it is love, yay you, if it is ‘The Colour Purple’ yay you, if it is science, yay you, just find it, and when you do, give the things that you decide to do and represent, care for, stand for, live for 100%.
Want more max? Max Bwire