Blog: Inspiration Between the Lines

Q&A with Photographer Frank Frances

IMAGE HEADER: Frank Frances by Kris Graves


Frank Frances’ parallel work as both a commercial photographer and fine art photographer has evolved into a complementary conversation on the nature of home. Through interior photography, still life and art photography, Frances explores what he describes as the “complex identity of the home,” aiming to inspire viewers to reconsider their relationships to home and placemaking. In Fall 2020, Frances shot a cover story for Elle Decor and is releasing his first monograph, Remember the South, a poetic rumination on his coming of age in South Carolina.

Interior photography for Elle Decor by Frank Frances


DUGGAL ART SCENE: How did you get your start working in still life and home photography? Did you always want to focus on this area, or did you find it by happenstance?

FRANK: I got into home photography as an explorative idea by becoming a retoucher at One Kings Lane and then moving into an in-house photographer position. That was 9 years ago and one of the most important decisions of my creative life. My managers there gave me every opportunity to create work during off hours and to get better. After some time working within the home arena, I realized it was the best place for me to think through my personal experiences. For about 10 years, I worked within the collaborative duo Tribble & Mancenido with my wife Tracey. Through that process, I realized how the idea of partnership – and sharing creativity as a practice – is paramount to how I want to work for the rest of my life. Tribble & Mancenido is no longer a working duo, but working in home, still life, and fine art through the connectivity via vast ideas continues.

Commercially, my closest partner is now my friend, Olivia. We’ve spent so many days in the studio crafting visions, ideas, and creative gestures that flow through all aspects of how I represent photography. Finding focus has been about finding relational adventures through friends, stylists, creative directors, homeowners, and a constant curiosity around how people have developed emotional connections through the home.

Fine art collage by Frank Frances


DUGGAL ART SCENE: Along with commercial work, you also make fine art. How does your interest in fine art influence or intersect with your commercial work?

FRANK: My works stem from the thought of my mother working hard to keep a roof over the heads of my sisters and myself as kids. The home has a complex identity that is shaped by the world outside and it is a major component to both practices. I approach a commercial cosmetic project, building a meaningful still life, and shooting homes with the same question in mind, “How does my end product inspire someone to consider viewing where they come from or where they are in the moment differently?”

Portrait of Sheila Bridges for Elle Decor by Frank Frances


DUGGAL ART SCENE: Recently, you shot the cover story for Elle Decor, which featured the upstate New York home of legendary interior designer, Sheila Bridges. What was it like to work with her, someone who brings such an evolved expertise and love of interiors to the table?

FRANK: I usually research people heavily before doing a shoot. When I realized how prolific Sheila has been over the years, it became evident how monumental just being in her personal space would be—an honor, really. Sheila has so many endless ideas. Her Harlem Toile wallpaper stands out to me as a piece of art. Each scene holds as much relevance as a Kara Walker work of art. If you consider the time that Sheila has worked in and how many barriers she’s broken, it’s phenomenal. I recommend buying her book! At this moment in time, I feel extremely lucky to have someone like Sheila trust my photographic vision with her creative approach to the home. 

Fine art photography by Frank Frances


DUGGAL ART SCENE: Lastly, is there a particular type of problem solving or creativity that is specific to your food & table and still life work? What does the process of composing an image entail?

FRANK: The food is rooted in my thoughts on the history of Soul Food, being from South Carolina, and reflections on how its meaning has evolved over time. For example, I developed this strange practice of not eating chicken and watermelon in front of white people as a kid. So, the work about both chicken and watermelon is quite funny when I consider what traumas we develop in life from where we are raised. As a friend said recently, “White and black people love them equally,” which made me laugh and think about how making art has helped me cope with and work through some prejudices. Still life, for me, means fading jolts of excitement around materiality. When composing, I’m considering whether I can inject humor, fear, eloquence, and history all in one. There are so many wonderful examples of moments throughout history; every shoot is a way to insert my vision into that history privately in my studio. I’m always very excited to feel an energy that is working well while making small works.   


IMAGE HEADER CREDIT: Frank Frances by Kris Graves

View more work by Frank Frances:

View Frank Frances monograph, Remember the South:

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