Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2004, C-print, 59 3/4 x 89 5/8".

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2004, C-print, 59 3/4 x 89 5/8".

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2004, C-print, 59 3/4 x 89 5/8".

I decided to work with photography because, for me, it was the fastest means to an end. I wanted to concentrate my energy on ideas and be able to see the results quickly.

I began as a naive realist painter, copying from photographs or magazines or, sometimes, collages of both. But I never felt a calling for painting; while I was skilled, the act of copying was where my talent lay. There was no point to why I painted or what I copied. It was time-consuming.

At first, the technology of even old-fashioned cameras and darkroom printing intimidated me. I failed my first photography course. I didn’t get the little tricks of the trade to make the perfect print, overexposing or underdeveloping, the zone system. I just didn’t care abouttraditional photography, and that was keeping me from getting a handle on what to do with it.

I gave up worrying about perfect negatives and print quality and turned my attention to what I was going to shoot. The camera and the darkroom became the medium, but the concept was what drove the image.

I had a romantic notion of using film, so I was a latecomer to digital photography. But the moment I tried it, I knew I’d found the perfect method for my process. I work entirely alone, and this way I can stay in character if I need to reshoot something, instead of waiting for hours while the film is developed.

Postproduction has gradually become part of the process. When I first started using Photoshop, I was simply adding colored backgrounds. Then I started shooting separate backgrounds and manipulating them. Lately I’ve been experimenting with tweaking the face digitally instead of using makeup. Now I’m completely altering the entire mood of my original shots of both figure and background to get what I want. I don’t mind that it’s obvious that these are not straight photographs, and I’ve never cared that something looks fake.