The Artist Spotlight series is meant to give notoriety to the people whom I have great respect for, who are superbly talented in art and design, and have the greatest potential. Essentially, the contenders. Every month, a new artist will be selected with a spotlight reveling their inspirations, opinions, and influences, as well as a sample of their outstanding work.
I met Karrah in a beginning digital photography class---which is kind of exciting for me to know that I met her when she was really beginning her journey. Anyone lucky enough to have her as a wedding photographer knows that she has an amazing sense of how to capture a moment and portray it magically. On top of that, Karrah is one of the most determined and passionate artists I’ve ever met.
Take a few minutes to read her responses below as she shares her inspirations, her idols, and her aspirations. To learn more about Karrah and to see more of her work, visit her website at: http://karrahkobus.zenfolio.com/
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere, literally. Just being alive---I once was inspired by ordering lunch at burger king. I am an extremely emotional person, and expressing that through art is the only way I keep myself sane!
In particular, I’m very inspired by water and a specific memory I have from my childhood. It sounds strange, but I was swimming in a hotel pool very late at night with just my grandmother, and I was underwater with my face pressed right up by one of the lights, which was conveniently located near a vent and also the heater! It was just so very surreal to be floating, weightless, with this sensation of warmth and light and wind… It might not come across in my work as exactly that, but it was definitely an experience that is often on my mind, and influences a lot of the motion in my photos.
I am also inspired by my back surgery, which I had when I was 17. Looking through my work, you can often find people in crazy positions---this is almost always directly stemming from my experience with the surgery. Being so young, and losing a lot of my mobility like that was extremely hard to deal with. As a result, I am so absolutely drawn to pushing the human body to the limit in my photographs. I love getting people into strange positions, some of which are even impossible. It just helps me deal with my own disability.
Beyond those two very strong personal experiences, I am definitely inspired by nature on a grand scale: dirt, trees, animals, WIND, sunlight, fashion, and work by other artists. Lastly, a large influence on me is my interest in people (which I think is pretty obvious by my go-to subject matter!). I studied anthropology for two years, which was incredible. I took a lot of time studying culture, but I also became very interested in evolution and biological anthropology. I have a weird thing for bones, I guess. The way in which the remnants of something once living can tell a story like what we are finding in the case of evolution is not only impressive, but mysterious and almost a little unreal. Another big place of interest for me was in myth and dreams. The way people are intrinsically drawn to telling stories to deal with conflict, among other things, is so interesting.
Can you explain what conceptual photography is?
To me, I think conceptual photography (or art in general) is all about telling a story. Although, sometimes it can be hard to decipher because realistically, I think every photo/image tells a story. In my mind, the difference comes down to the artist’s intentions. If there was a specific message or dialogue that was meant to be conveyed, then I think that qualifies as conceptual art.
I think there is a very specific style to your photography, how would you describe it?
Personally, I have a hard time seeing a specific style through my work---I am also okay with that. Although, I would describe the style I love, and aspire to have, as natural yet surreal. I enjoy looking at a photo that looks like a moment of real life, but something incredibly surreal is present. For me, that typically comes out through the body positioning or styling of the subject.
Do you have a favorite image or series of images that you’ve taken?
I like all of these pieces because they fit with that style I described above, and to me that makes them each very enticing. I also really like the concept behind these images.
What is your favorite part about being a photographer?
I have so much that I love about being a photographer! I have two very different sides to the majority of my work---there is the conceptual artist in me, and then there is the wedding photographer. When it comes to my conceptual work, I absolutely love being able to mix a piece of reality with the depths of my imagination. It’s one of the only art forms that allows you to capture and fully integrate reality like that. I love seeing my ideas come to life, sometimes quite literally. To me, it’s just so amazing to go out and create these situations, and then be able to come home with a piece of it. It’s almost like a trophy---you know, like “Hey! Guess what I just did!” and if you don’t believe me, I’ve got proof. ;)
The wedding photographer side of me LOVES capturing real moments, and not so much altering them. I love to show simple beauty, in smiles and in tears. I love to portray that very honest emotion---straightforward, real, and gorgeous. Photographing couples on their wedding day brings out so much of this, both in the couple themselves as well as the guests. I think that is why I enjoy weddings above most other client jobs.
If you were a flavor of ice-cream, what would you be and why?
Haha, I love this question! I would be two scoops---the bottom, coffee flavored with chunks of chocolate, and the top, raspberry. That is my favorite mix, and it looks adorable in a little cone! I also think everybody needs a little variety to their personality. ;)
Do you have any idols, either personally or professionally?
Yes, I have quite a few! Personally, I highly admire my grandparents. I am just so close to them, and I think about them everyday. They took care of me a lot when I was younger, and I really respect that. Everyone in my family is so great, and I actually look up to them all for different reasons. Generally though, my family has taught me to work hard and go after what I want---priceless lesson.
Photographically, I look up so much to Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz, Gregory Crewdson, Jerry Ulesmann, Rosie Hardy, Kirsty Mitchell, Lara Jade, Brooke Shaden, Alex Stoddard, and Ashley Lebedev (who I actually just had the pleasure of meeting!) just to name a few. Seriously, the list goes on forever! Two wedding photographers I absolutely love and have great respect for are Daniel Usenko (hopefully my future wedding photog!!) and Jose Villa.
In other artistic areas, I’m going to have to admit I am a huge Lady Gaga fan. I respect her so much for expressing herself, in whatever way she deems necessary. I love her dedication to her craft, which is definitely more than music.
With technology getting more advanced and camera equipment becoming cheaper and more accessible to a wider audience, how do you foresee photography changing in the next 20 years?
Well, it is definitely becoming more accessible---there is no denying that. I think that in some ways, and in some people’s minds, photography has lost a little bit of its spark. Before, one needed to be a master. A photographer needed to understand his/her camera inside and out in order to produce an image. Not only that, but they needed to understand the film, and how the chemicals in the dark room worked. It took so much skill, whereas now you can just press a button---delete it if it didn’t work or keep it if you got lucky. Part of me thinks it is great that it can be so easy for more of the population to have the wonders of photography---just for capturing life and having those memories at such easy disposal.
On the other hand, we have all heard it a hundred times this day and age, but every kid with a camera thinks they are a photographer. I’m confident that talent will still be on the forefront of this field, but I think it will only get harder and harder to break in and even keep work on a lower, free-lance level. People are always going to know someone who owns a digital camera and loves taking photos, and if they are uneducated about what photography can actually be for them, they are just going to go with ‘Aunt Sandy’ and her point and shoot.
You describe yourself as “a girl with a pretty big camera and one massive dream”, can you elaborate?
Ah yes, my short bio on my blog! I basically just mean that I’m just an average girl, but I really want to find something special. I think it is pretty natural for people to want to be heard, especially today with mass communication being so easy through things like the internet. People want to be recognized. Very few aspire to fall through the cracks and not be noticed for what they love. For me, I want people to know I’m a photographer. I want to get good at it. I have so far to go, but that is my dream. Photography is an incredible thing to master, but I’m going to do it someday and people are going to know me.
What 5 tips can you give to fellow art students?
Hmm, I guess my number one tip seems a little obvious, but it really is important---you gotta practice. All the time. I think an artist needs to be consistently evolving and learning new things, just as an individual in any other field of work. The more you practice, the more you discover new ways to do things, and personally that excites me, but it also keeps others interested in your work.
My next tip would be to never give up!! It’s so crucial to keep giving it all you’ve got. Success isn’t a straight path to the top, there are set backs and days you think you have to give in and quit, but if you keep pushing through, I think great things can happen.
I’d say its really important to learn how to take constructive criticism for exactly what it is---constructive, and to know the difference between constructive criticism and negative feedback without any basis.
Expect to work really hard to make it in an art related field, especially if you’re looking to do freelance. I spend probably 85% of my time working on either my work, client work, or attempts to book new jobs, 10% sleeping, and 5% enjoying free time. If you really love what you do, it’s not too big of a problem, but definitely expect to spend a lot of time dedicated to your craft if it ends up being a career choice.
Network your little heart out. Put yourself out there. meet other artists--those in your medium, and even those outside of it. And not only artists, but talk with anyone and everyone you can. The more connections you have, the more potential clients you have. Be genuinely kind to others, especially if you’re going to be relying on booking clients. I can’t lie and say it’s been easy to book work---its an awesome journey though, and its definitely an attainable career choice---I wish the best of luck to you all! xx