ViewBug community member kathytackett is a Los Angeles based photographer with a BFA in Commercial Photography. She loves seeing people's imaginations run with them as they create interesting concepts and images. Enjoy our conversation below.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
Definitely my Dad. I grew up developing photographs with him in our garage or bathroom. His passion eventually became my passion. On top of that, I have an uncle on my Mom’s side who is a very talented nature photographer.
What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?
Oh, I think I started with a Canon EOS650 and progressed to a 30D and eventually a 40D. That being said, the camera I use at work went from a 7D to a 5D Mark III, and for a previous job, I used a 1D X Mark II that I absolutely loved.
When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?
Honestly, if I can get them to feel anything, I’ve reached my goal. I don’t want them to feel what I feel, because they haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced, (or maybe they have, but in a different way). I want them to feel something thats meaningful to them specifically. Relate it to their own memories and experiences. The work sets the mood, but what the individual experiences is on a more personal level.
What is it that you love about photography?
I love that I can manipulate the world around me. Yes, I do a lot of commercial work that shows the subject as it is, but my real passion is manipulating the images into something completely new. I’m one of those people that get disappointed when I’ve finished a book because for the time being, I can no longer live in this fantasy world that I’ve been sucked into. But with photography, I can create my own fantasy worlds, even if it’s just retouching a model to be the best version that they can be, to me, its still an altered reality.
What has photography done for you?
Photography has allowed me to be creative and express myself. Some people can draw, some paint, some make beautiful music. I manipulate what I see the way I want to see it.
Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?
Definitely feeling, unless I’m doing commercial work. I was once told by someone that successful art is supposed to make you feel something. Most of my personal work has my feelings put into it in a way that people can still relate. For example, I recently did a digital manipulation series called “Blue swept,” that specifically targets certain emotions for me. “Blue Swept #1” is my interpretation of social anxiety. But depending on the viewers experience, maybe it represents something else. Either way, It’s more of a feeling than a concept.
How do you describe your style?
For my personal work, I’d say quirky is a very fitting verb. The weirder the better. I love portraiture and fashion, but everyone has such different personalities, so I try to get my models to open up and really be themselves. It results in some really interesting photos.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
85mm f/1.2 because, (to quote a teacher of mine), “it makes the background like butter.”
What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?
1. Art is subjective. Don’t get discouraged if someone doesn’t like your work.
2. Creativity is amazing, but technical skill is also important. There’s no shame in watching instructional videos online to improve your work.
3. Keep yourself stimulated. The more photos you look at on a daily basis the better.
Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?
Absolutely. As I mentioned above, art is extremely subjective. Not everyone is going to feel the same about it as you do, and that’s totally fine. Just try not to take it personally.
Where did you learn to take photos?
I learned a lot from my Dad when I was young, then a high school photography class, then college. I was lucky enough to attend and graduate from Brooks Institute before it shut down and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always room for improvement, and without proper schooling, I know for a fact that I would not have made it as a professional photographer.
Raw vs jpg and why?
Always raw. I do a l lot of post editing, which degrades the image, so I’ve got to start with as many pixels as I can get!
What do you carry in your camera bag?
I have a decent collection of lenses that always travel with me along with spare cf cards and of course, business cards! You never know when you’re gonna need em.
If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?
I’d love to meet Jerry Uelsmann. Surrealistic photography is one of the things that I’m still trying to learn, and have always wanted to do and he is a huge inspiration for me.
What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?
One of my teachers used to tell us, “get close, then get closer.” I feel like a lot of photographers just take the photo and think they’re done without examining all the angles.
What is your dream location to shoot?
Scotland! So much history, and everything is green!
How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?
Location scouting is very important. Unfortunately, It’s not always easy to picture the final result, so sometimes you have to just pick a spot and work with it.
What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?
At the moment, I’m trying to concentrate on moving up in the workplace so I’ve been doing a lot of more commercial shoots outside of work to build a portfolio. That being said, I’ve been trying to gather more stock images from previous shoots to practice more digital manipulation.
What is your goal with your photography?
I want to be able to work within the art world, but I also want to continue my own personal artwork. Someday I’d love to be featured in a gallery or museum.