“My photographic voice is very romantic and nostalgic. I am a pictorialist at heart. I work on the idea of capturing a thought or feeling more so than the actual subject matter in front of me.”
Cally Whitham (born in 1972) is a Fine Art Photographer from New Zealand. She’s currently based in the Rural North of Auckland. Cally Whitham studied photography at Carrington Design School. She is represented by Galerie Sakura and Yellow Korner.
Artist statement: “I am always on the look out for what lies below the surface, my work attempts to uncover a value in the things that we no longer appreciate.”
Series “Geese” from Cally Whitham: “‘Geese’ is part of my continuing exploration into finding ‘value’ where none appears apparent, particularly with birds and animals that came to my country when colonization occurred in the mid to late 1800’s. Our rural beginnings were heavily reliant on domestic birds and farm animals for survival. While agriculture is still a very big earner in my country (and many other countries in the west) the animals as individuals have lost the value and importance they once had to us in our every day lives, as we have divorced ourselves from the land and the things we eat.”
Cally Whitham, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My first camera was a Fuji instamatic when I was eleven years old. My first photographic experience was taking a photo of my brother and grandparents at a West Coast beach when I was about seven.
Why did you become a photographer?
I wanted a way to capture the things I wanted to remember. When I was a child, I used to love going on long car journeys and just looking out the window and taking mental pictures. When it occurred to me that I could capture moments to keep I was hooked.
What does photography mean to you?
It is a way of holding on to time.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Julia Margaret Cameron and Alfred Steiglitz’s work when he was still a pictorialist; in equal measures. Both of them expressed the things I want to say so beautifully.
Alfred Stieglitz “The Eloquent Eye”
What Stieglitz was driving at was a new vision for a modern world. To teach America to see. And photography was the epitome for a new way of seeing.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“Don’t go out and photograph things, photograph the in-between of things.”
How would you describe your photographic language?
My photographic voice is very romantic and nostalgic. I am a pictorialist at heart. I work on the idea of capturing a thought or feeling more so than than actual subject matter in front of me. Then I work on bringing that idea out of the subject I have photographed, so in the end I have created an idea or feeling I had about something rather than producing a rendition of the thing itself.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
Keeping yourself somewhat isolated from what everyone else is doing. To not constantly look at others work and try to work out how to make your own version of it, but rather to work out what your own voice is; what is it that you want to say, without reference to anyone else.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
The axis of my work is really warm tones, grain, romantic light and soft focus. Conceptually it’s about romantic and nostalgic notions.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
There a so many different genres of photography that require different qualities and characteristics. For most genres I would say an insatiable desire to photograph.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
Evocative of something else.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Art, poetry and history usually.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I use a Fuji x100 for shooting landscapes and a Canon 7D with a Sigma 150-500 and a monopod for my birds and animals.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I don’t look at photography websites as a rule. I don’t typically look at photography, (particularly modern photography) for inspiration.
What photography book would you recommend?
I would not recommend looking at books about photography. Don’t look at photography as an inspiration, broaden your horizons and look at many different arts and ideas and thinkers for inspiration.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
It sounds pessimistic, but have a back up plan or several specialties you can fall back on or to amalgamate to create a career. So few make a good living out of photography. With the number of cameras in the world today the need for a professional photographer has significantly diminished.