“My process is very subconscious, from the gut. Once I produce work then I sit and think about it and research almost always comes secondary to making the work.”

Katie Shapiro (born in 1983) is a contemporary landscape photographer currently living in Los Angeles, California (USA). She received her BFA in Photography from the “California Institute of the Arts” in 2007 and is currently working towards her MFA at UC Irvine.

Her work investigates the territories that surround her, always inspired by what is held deep within her subjects.

Interview with Katie Shapiro

Katie, what was your first camera and photographic experience?

A Nikomat. My father showed me how to use his 35mm camera and I just never put it down.

Why did you become a photographer?

I never grew tired of it, still haven’t.

What does photography mean to you?

It’s my means of art production; it’s a medium that I can express myself with.

Which photographer has inspired you most and why?

Rineke Dijkstra is one of my all time favorite portrait photographers for the otherworldly aspect to her photographs.

“For me, the importance of photography is that you can point to something, that you can let other people see things. Ultimately, it is a matter of the specialness of the ordinary.”

Rineke Dijkstra

Your favorite photography quote?

Well it’s not about photography, but it’s my favorite quote by the writer Lorrie Moore:

“There is never anything conclusive, just an endless series of tests.”

How would you describe your photographic language?

My process is very subconscious, from the gut. Once I produce work then I sit and think about it and research almost always comes secondary to making the work.

What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?

Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot. Try, fail, and fail again. You have to get through all the outside influences in the way of your perception to get through to your true vision. That takes a lot of shooting and experimenting.

What do you consider to be the axis of your work?

I aim for more of a feeling from the work to be the axis, that goes across my work, but also there is my own taste in color and composition which I believe makes my vision what it is.

What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?

Willingness to sacrifice profit from their work and to make it for the sake of making it. Understanding that it takes time to establish yourself and allowing for that time. Patience.

What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?

Oh, I don’t know, there is no exact formula, it often helps when there is a “punctum” as Roland Barthes referred to it, some point or part to the photograph that draws you in.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?

My everyday life, my friends, my family, the books I read, the movies I see. I gather from everything around me.

What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?

I shoot with a Hasselblad.

What’s your favorite website about photography?

Hmm, can’t think of any off-hand.

What photography book would you recommend?

Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” is a very good book about photography.

Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?

Work for another photographer, and learn how they do things, and then figure out what would work for you.

More about Katie Shapiro




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