“When a photographer creates images they are both documenting a moment in time and space as well as creating a fictitious reality of their choosing, either by spin or creative intent. In my fictions I wish to draw the viewer into a moment, into a world similar to our own, but concentrated in our sense of emotion, sensuality, and intrigue.”
Elizabeth Raab (born in 1981) is currently based in Los Angeles, California, USA. She studied photography at the Seattle Central Creative Academy, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Artist showcasing all her subjects in their most intriguing and attractive light.
Interview with Elizabeth Raab
Elizabeth, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
I think many of my most memorable moments in life have happened while shooting. It’s such a consuming passion, you end up living and breathing it continually.
Why did you become a photographer?
The life of the artist had always appealed to me as my family is comprised of artists of all types. I dabbled in drawing and painting, but as soon as I picked up a camera at the age of 13 I knew that I had found my first love. It quickly became clear that my spirit was enriched within the photographic realm and thus it was no surprise to anyone when my career path followed suit.
What does photography mean to you and what do you to want to say with your pictures?
Photography is interesting to me as a scientific process paired with a creative interpretation. Through this it parallels the larger questions of life reminding us that nothing is ever simply what it appears. Through creativity our capabilities are infinite. The technology of science does not limit the possibilities of creativity. Creativity isn’t restricted to our general consensus of reality. When a photographer creates images they are both documenting a moment in time and space as well as creating a fictitious reality of their choosing, either by spin or creative intent. In my fictions I wish to draw the viewer into a moment, into a world similar to our own, but concentrated in our sense of emotion, sensuality, and intrigue.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I have many favorites. But Edward S. Curtis comes immediately to mind. His early 20th century work of Native American scenes in the West reads as a documentary of the time, but in reality, these images were taken much later than the time period depicted, the characters are dressed and acting for the camera. It’s an early representation of an artist re-creating his own vision of history, his own stunning interpretations. I am also drawn to the work of Kahn and Selesnick for this same reason. They are building beautiful forged histories of fictional cultures and tribes. Playing with the beautiful technical realism of the images and the creative narratives this allows the mind to explore.
What’s your favorite quote about photography?
“There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
Perhaps a more eloquent way to sum up what I’ve just touched on in the former two questions!
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
An image should draw you in and make you feel something. In each viewer it is different, almost like a dance partner. The photographer and the viewer may not always agree, but they are still experiencing together through that viewpoint. I strive for my work to dance between several dichotomies: it’s aggressive in the way that it is sensual and dark, but it is also reserved in the relaxed nature of my characters. As if you’ve got them in a moment of repose between actions or intentions. I do this with my posing, my lighting, and my post production.
What’s important in order to develop your own photographic voice?
I feel like the critique is essential to the artist. Not that you should change something dramatically with every opinion heard, but to understand the impact that your work is having on your viewers is vastly important in order to tweak it in a way that the impact you wish to have is the most frequent response received.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I’m showcasing all my subjects in what I see as their most intriguing and attractive light. This is a combination of my ability to connect with my subjects (or objects) as well as a lighting style and post production or retouching style that highlights those attributes.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
I think it’s a really hard question to answer, as I see it as an extension of what is art, and what makes a good artist? I think the best place to start though is a passion for your work and a drive to create it.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes? Especially keeping in mind the flood of images we are exposed to every day.
Again, this is hard to pinpoint and varies from each person interpreting the image. For me personally though, there is something in the scene that is intriguing. What causes this in each image will vary wildly from subject to subject. But a good image draws you in, makes you wonder.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I draw inspiration from every aspect of my life. Everything I encounter eventually comes out in some way in my imagery.
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
There are two kinds of photographers: People who are excited by and strive to create amazing images with the latest technologies and people who seek out technology to create amazing images they are excited by. I’m the later. And most recently Canon fits the bill.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
It’s not necessarily photography specific but my husband and a group of friends have recently started www.slidewave.com, a hub for emerging artists. I’m very excited about the work they are doing and the artists of all genres they are exposing.
What book about photography would you recommend?
All of them! You never know where you might pick up the piece of the puzzle you didn’t even know you were missing.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
A career in photography is something you do because it’s your love, your life, your obsession. If you’ve found it to be so, as I have, just keep reaching out and walking down that path. Don’t expect to get rich quick, or expect to be able to follow in anyone else’s footsteps, but do expect it to be exciting! It’s a place to create and live in your own world reveling in the thrill of uneven terrain.