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Handmade Portraits: Molly Landreth

Jun 21, 2011

by MollyLandreth

MP4 | YouTube | | Subscribe in iTunes

(Music by Animal Hospital, LordX, airtone)

ATTIE.jpgFor the past five years, photographer Molly Landreth has been documenting gay and transgendered life with her vintage, large format camera. What started as a handful of portraits for her MFA at the School of Visual Arts has become a robust body of work — spanning the country from brownstones in Brooklyn to farming communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Molly sees her collection as a visibility project, an archive of images that is needed and that she wants to see. Over the course of embarking on this endeavor, she’s pushed her own boundaries: “The project became less about archiving people that I love and more about putting love into the lesser known stories.”

What is most striking about Molly Landreth’s photos are her subjects’ piercing eyes. They often stare down the camera in a defiant, almost confrontational way.  The 4×5 large format camera requires her subjects to hold still for up to a minute, allowing them to present themselves to the camera instead of striking a quick pose, as they might for a snapshot.  Molly herself is unassuming, letting her subjects choose the setting of their portraits. She describes her process as one of collaboration, relying on “trust and magic” to make beautiful and meaningful images.


Mike Attie’s films have played at and won awards at numerous film festivals, both in the U.S. and abroad. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife Sarah and cats Eddy and Lucy.

More LGBT Blog Posts | Queer Etsy Team


  • MouseKitten

    MouseKitten said 6 years ago

    Beautiful work, full of honesty and love. thank you for sharing

  • neighborhoodvintage

    neighborhoodvintage said 6 years ago

    WOW, I absolutely LOVE some of these shots!!!!!! Don't you dare see my shop:

  • Earleyimages

    Earleyimages said 6 years ago

    Great works

  • noonblueapples

    noonblueapples said 6 years ago

    Really gorgeous work!

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox said 6 years ago

    Beautiful work - both Molly & Mike. Thank you for sharing your visions.

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons said 6 years ago

    Very Striking portraiture! I've always wanted to try a large format camera for the fantastic level of detail.

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    The beautiful woman makes me so happy! Lovely work!

  • PassionFlowerVintage

    PassionFlowerVintage said 6 years ago

    Beautiful work!

  • tdurant

    tdurant said 6 years ago

    Molly, what an incredible person you are. Thank you so much for sharing "you warmed my heart!"

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago

    Interesting story and works.

  • redhardwick

    redhardwick said 6 years ago

    Love the pix, especially the Cooper, Oakland one! Thanks for sharing your work!

  • SoliDeoGloriaSDG

    SoliDeoGloriaSDG said 6 years ago

    AH' your work is Beautiful!! It touches the soul of your subjects.

  • JewelryByJLy

    JewelryByJLy said 6 years ago

    Your work is stunning and truly captivating! I love the heart and soul you feel when looking at the photos! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • MollCutpurse

    MollCutpurse said 6 years ago

    You have a fabulous eye. Beautiful!

  • cridley

    cridley said 6 years ago

    I have a transgendered relative..... If you need a subject in the Dallas, Texas area...drop me a message. I am a photographer too...and I really admire your work, and your camera of choice! Bravo!

  • HellYeahISew

    HellYeahISew said 6 years ago

    I can appreciate a photographer with such a talented eye. Also, this has nothing to do with this post, but Mike's sort of a hottie, huh?

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns said 6 years ago

    I can appreciate beautiful photography now that I'm an etsy seller. My dear friend is passionate about pinhole photography and it actually makes beautiful abstract pictures. Love your eye for it and ability to be one with your camera. I struggle with my picture taking for posting my items here. Great job!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Amazing portraits I love how striking they are, really reveals the personality of the 'sitter'!

  • nliedel

    nliedel said 6 years ago

    I about had a cow when I saw this gorgeous portrait. The personality, the expressions, the joy!! The color!!! It blew my mind and I am loving your work. Love!!!!! This is beautiful.

  • bibliographica

    bibliographica said 6 years ago

    One of my favourites. Incredible, raw, inviting, confronting, beautiful work. I love a photographer that challenges the viewer - captivates. This work does just that. Wonderful!

  • BooHu

    BooHu said 6 years ago

    Stunning Stuff!

  • sacredsuds

    sacredsuds said 6 years ago

    I just cannot get over that portrait. It does everything a portrait is supposed to do - it grabs me, pulls me in, radiates character, gives me an absolute sense of this woman's fabulous essence, makes me feel like i know her just by looking at this picture of her. I want to be her friend, just to be around her and all of her glorious charisma! Brilliant work.

  • DessertWine

    DessertWine said 6 years ago

    Souls connect in these photos...nothing less than amazing!!

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 6 years ago

    Beautiful and powerful images.

  • PolClary

    PolClary said 6 years ago

    Amazing. I love what is said about how when you have a digital camera, people know how to act. But when they see a beautiful old camera like that, they're different and calmer.

  • swaggjewelry

    swaggjewelry said 6 years ago

    Awesome story. Striking photography. Thanks for sharing.

  • grandmamarievintage

    grandmamarievintage said 6 years ago

    Beautiful video and photos. Such an amazing project, keep it up!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    very original and important work.. congrats

  • DoBatsEatCats

    DoBatsEatCats said 6 years ago

    Such beautiful work! You do a great job of conveying emotion through your photos. love it!

  • Gallivants

    Gallivants said 6 years ago

    Stunning, soulful photographs Beautiful artistic vision Engaging video Kudos to you both and all of the subjects!

  • RedorGrayArt

    RedorGrayArt said 6 years ago

    i really enjoyed watching you set up the camera and watching you work .. a wonderful blast to the past with here and now subjects ~

  • JennasRedRhino

    JennasRedRhino said 6 years ago

    When I see this I hope that it is something that will somehow help gay marriage a legal reality. I guess every little drop helps to fill a bucket, right?

  • mamif

    mamif said 6 years ago

    wonderful photos! and love the large format camera

  • jungledread

    jungledread said 6 years ago

    Love the unique style

  • thedogshouterer

    thedogshouterer said 6 years ago

    Molly, your description of why you use a 4x5 is almost precisely as I have described my reasoning. I get asked "Why?" a lot. Love the portrait of Chickadee's family and love your commitment to process. Shannon

  • BCharmer

    BCharmer said 6 years ago

    Wow, touching and wonderful. Thank-You.

  • BCharmer

    BCharmer said 6 years ago

    Wow, touching and wonderful. Thank-You.

  • AnnaBeauDesigns

    AnnaBeauDesigns said 6 years ago

    Truly talented, truly a lovely person.

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds said 6 years ago

    So glad you featured this artist. I have had her "Cooper" photo marked as a favorite for a while, and I hope to buy it sometime. There's something just so amazing about it...

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Great talent!

  • Caremel

    Caremel said 6 years ago

    Wow, I wish I had $500 to buy you photo of meg and renee... It is absolutely beautiful, as are so many of your others. I love your work and your project.

  • MaggiePainting

    MaggiePainting said 6 years ago

    Stunning photography. Love it!

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 6 years ago

    Beautiful work!

  • atomicteapot

    atomicteapot said 6 years ago

    These are... just stunning. My fiancée is a transgendered individual and the process is such a heartbreaking and financially trying endeavor. And yet, when I see portraits like these... It warms me, and renders me speechless. You have captured something so very special with your subjects.... Thank you, so, so much.

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection said 6 years ago

    I love these photos! Amazing Monica TheIDConnection

  • MetroGypsy

    MetroGypsy said 6 years ago

    Absolutely fascinating-and beautiful. It's clear there's passion for the work, and a real love for that gem of a camera. Keep it up!

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 6 years ago

    Great work !

  • monkeysalwayslook

    monkeysalwayslook said 6 years ago

    What an inspiring story. The photos are simply amazing.

  • fanciness

    fanciness said 6 years ago

    absolutely beautiful video and photography.

  • heidiadnum

    heidiadnum said 6 years ago

    Love your work, Molly. Your photographs are beautiful and inspiring. Great video, too, Mike!

  • DreamCake

    DreamCake said 6 years ago

    Fantastic! How fun you use your old camera. I love photography and would love to eventually incorporate it into my shop. For now, just jewelry and accessories :) Keep up the good work!

  • Niftic

    Niftic said 6 years ago

    Fabulous Work! You inspire me!

  • ericawalker

    ericawalker said 6 years ago

    Molly's connection to her subjects is apparent in her striking work. Thanks so much for this peek into her project and world.

  • ambeolin910

    ambeolin910 said 6 years ago


  • AmyKristineVintage

    AmyKristineVintage said 6 years ago

    So amazing and inspiring!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!

  • jmbarclay

    jmbarclay said 6 years ago

    Great video and photography!

  • skyetaylorgalleries

    skyetaylorgalleries said 6 years ago

    Wow! Some of the photos were brilliant! I love that camera! Great job! Very interesting subjects to photograph. The photos are so cool and interesting they should be in a huge book.

  • momosoho

    momosoho said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful body of work so far.....i feel your love and connection with the people you photograph...your heart is so big!!! Peace, Maureen

  • wabiMYsabi

    wabiMYsabi said 6 years ago

    In awe! Wonderful!(: xo ~valerie

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Wonderful portraits!

  • MagoosGlasses

    MagoosGlasses said 6 years ago

    Absolutely stunning. Thank you for a beautiful story on a dreary, rainy Wednesday

  • MagoosGlasses

    MagoosGlasses said 6 years ago

    Absolutely stunning. Thank you for a beautiful story on a dreary, rainy Wednesday

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Wow! Love what you do. I love that you have shared these stories! Keep up the great work :)

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 6 years ago

    Wow. I do portrait photography, so this sort of thing interests me anyway, but the people and the faces are fascinating. Thank you for sharing!

  • ApollinaireVintage

    ApollinaireVintage said 6 years ago

    Riveting and touching. And I adore that beautiful camera!

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 6 years ago

    Wonderfully Done.

  • jmbarclay

    jmbarclay said 6 years ago

    Great Photography!

  • tatimaia

    tatimaia said 6 years ago

    Oh, boy... That's SO cool! Never have seen something like that before. This camera is amazing! WOW! Hugs and greetings from Brazil, Tati

  • MasonRabbitsPaperie

    MasonRabbitsPaperie said 6 years ago

    Wonderful photographs!

  • queenofqueens

    queenofqueens said 6 years ago

    Projects like this which document the lives of queer folks are important and paradigm shifting. Thank you for demonstrating the exceptional beauty found in the ordinary lives of LGBT people with such deftness and sensitivity. xo~QoQ Queer Team Leader

  • jerise

    jerise said 6 years ago

    Wonderful work--I love these images, and think that in a world where "queer" is not very visible sometimes this is a very important project. (Queer Team member, yay!)

  • BunnyKissd

    BunnyKissd said 6 years ago

    BEAUTIFUL images! Thank you so very much for sharing them with the world. ♥♥♥ ~Diana

  • kitschcafe

    kitschcafe said 6 years ago

    I love this! Thank you for highlighting the GLBT community on Etsy. We're here, we're queer and we are Etsy sellers!

  • shop1848

    shop1848 said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous work! Your images have lots of heart, I love them!!

  • SnipSnipArt

    SnipSnipArt said 6 years ago

    Beautiful video, beautiful girl! This entire film was so calm and and so uplifting. She had such a sincere demeanor, just wonderful.

  • glusk

    glusk said 6 years ago

    I really admire your work and your gorgeous subjects

  • unicornleather

    unicornleather said 6 years ago

    And today, we celebrate a degree of equality! Go New York! :)


    AVATARB3DCOV3R said 6 years ago

    Admired..your work AVATAR ARTbed cover Bali

  • AllThatIAm

    AllThatIAm said 6 years ago

    Spectacular work Molly :)

  • OhFaro

    OhFaro said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this lovely work.

  • dslookkin

    dslookkin said 6 years ago

    I loved this so much!

  • GratitudeLady

    GratitudeLady said 6 years ago

    Hurray for NY...maybe you can add our weddings now to your wonderful personal work! Thank you.

  • fbstudiovt

    fbstudiovt said 6 years ago

    As someone who had a long term relationship with a transgendered individual who opened my eyes to all the wonderful gender variance in this world, THANK YOU!!!! The discrimination my former partner faced still makes me angry on a daily basis and I'm so thankful for everyone who has the courage to show that gender is fluid and not necessarily tied to chromosomes.

  • kristenknits

    kristenknits said 6 years ago

    Absolutely beautiful work! Thank you for sharing.

  • artispartem

    artispartem said 6 years ago

    Beautiful! Thank you! Thank you!

  • nestingemily

    nestingemily said 6 years ago

    I am blown away- what beautiful work and such an amazing project. Thank you for making the world a more wonderful place!

  • michaeltoma

    Michael from BroncatiJewelry said 5 years ago

    I love it, I loved the video and I loved your work!

  • looking4lilly

    Kristina K. from looking4lilly said 5 years ago

    I hope your project continues! Beautiful work.

  • Niftic

    Niftic from NifticVintage said 5 years ago

    I Love this girl! She's an inspiration to us all! Rock on Molly!

  • dottywalker

    Dotty Walker from SewThoughtfulBlanket said 5 years ago

    Very nice work!


    NICOLE Dotto from DOTTO said 5 years ago

    oh Molly and Mike, really really beautiful.

  • rikahonthelookout

    erica young from onthelookoutshop said 5 years ago



    MIKE JOHNSON said 5 years ago


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