I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Kristen in person, but I almost know her through her body of work. Her photos have always caught me and almost left me dead. Her images have an almost old Hollywood and Alfred Hitchcock feel to them. Every image is alive and will take and keep your soul for a very long time, without signs of escape. I got to have a little conversation with Kristen about her process and her gear.
SP – Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
KW – I was born in Philadelphia but moved to south Texas when I was a child. Now I live in Austin, TX.
SP – How did you get interested in photography? What kinds of things, artistic and not, influenced you?
– Hmm I’m not too sure other than I was bored and wanted some sort of creative outlet and knew I couldn’t paint or draw. Plus at the time there were a lot of budding photographers on deviantart
and I became interested in what they were doing and how they were creating these intricate pictures. I really wanted to figure it out so I just started experimenting with my little point and shoot camera.
SP – Do you prefer using film or digital? Why one over the other? And if you use both, what is the process for choosing which to use?
KW – I don’t know which I prefer…I definitely love film, but digital has allowed me the opportunity to really experiment with my photography. I would say I’m better (or more comfortable) with digital because I can be sure I’m not screwing up. But film has a certain aesthetic you can’t replicate. So, I like both.
SP – Tell us a little about your rig.
KW – I have a D7000 with a 18-200MM VR lens. Sometimes I use a nikon flash unit, but I prefer natural light. I have a polaroid land camera and a few film cameras I like to shoot with as well.
SP – What needs to be present for it to be a successful shoot? Is there a certain feeling that needs to be present when choosing your final images, for public view or is it more of a visual aesthetic?
KW – In order to have a successful shoot both myself and the model need to be relaxed. If the model is tense or nervous I can’t achieve the aesthetic I am looking for. Other than that, I don’t need much. I’m definitely a minimalist and I usually shoot on location. As long as the light is good, the photos will be good.
SP – What kind of theme or story do you like to portray with your style?
KW – Oh that’s a hard one. I’m not entirely sure…I know there is a certain aesthetic I’m looking for. I’m looking for timelessness. I’m looking for neutral spaces, dramatic lighting, and striking faces. I’m a theatre fan so maybe I’m pulling some inspiration from that. I want my photos to spark curiosity in people, I want them to question when & how they were made.
SP – What do you look for when choosing your models, and how do you normally set up a shoot?
KW – I’m quite particular when it comes to models – I definitely never want to shoot someone who is overly pretty (not to say the women I shoot aren’t pretty because they are), if that makes sense. I’m looking more for uniqueness…some sort of edgy, mysterious quality. I think I’ve been pretty good in finding the right people to shoot with so far. I love the models I shoot often. I kind of answered this earlier, but I don’t really do much set up. I have a black seamless backdrop I can use if I’m stumped but I usually just improvise.
SP – What’s your opinion on technology and photography these days with applications like instagram and the likes? Do you use them? Do they take down the artistic merit of the image?
KW – Good question..I actually really enjoy instagram. And a photographer whose work I follow recently said something that really made me think. He basically said that if programs like instagram, hipstamatic, etc. are getting people to flex their artistic muscle then it can only be a good thing. In small ways these programs are allowing otherwise uncreative people to create something. I like that.
SP – How does the future look for you?
KW – Oh so bright! Who knows what’s going to happen but I know I’ll keep doing what I love.