Interview with Karrah Kobus
Karrah Kobus is quickly gaining attention for her work. Rightfully so, the moment I saw her body of work, I suddenly felt engrossed in the art she produced. There’s an ethereal quality about every image. It’s as though you can almost feel each image start to move, unraveling a greater story underneath. You can tell there’s more to it than you first meet at the surface. I had to know more. Each image has a story and I felt Karrah’s history had the same depth. I had an opportunity to interview Karrah which you can read below.
You can also see Karrah’s work through these portals:
Flickr | Zenfolio | Facebook
How did you ‘find’ photography?
Photography is something that has always caught my interest, ever since I was young. I just liked how it felt to hold a camera and snap a photo – I used to be fascinated by polaroids and my grandpa always had cameras around. I still have polaroids that I took when I was around 7 years old.
My very first camera was a Sony Cybershot – just a little point and shoot. I got it for my 16th birthday, and started using it to take photos of myself because, at the time, I wanted to be a model. I just snapped photos and tried to look pretty. I stopped wanting to be a model after about a year, but was still sort of in the habit of taking random photos of myself, so I continued. I liked fashion so it was also a way for me to document what I was wearing. I posted photos like these to myspace, where people would always tell me they liked my “photography.”
I never had any real intent or purpose in taking photos though, until I was 19. I was studying for college one night and came across a photo by Rosie Hardy through a random google search. I had considered myself an artist ever since I was about 14 but had struggled to find a way to really express what I wanted. When I saw Rosie Hardy’s photos, I realized that photography could be my way – it was perfect, as I had spent countless nights trying to draw and paint realistic people in unexpected situations, which has always been a broad base for the kind of art I wanted to make. I had never seen photography as an art form prior to finding her work, and I consider my interest in photography to have begun that night – March 24th, 2010. The next morning I started a 365 project and was dead-set on being a photographer. I became passionate literally over-night.
How long have you been shooting for?
It has been about a year and a half now since I was photographically born.
Do you have any formal training/education or are you self taught?
I took intro to photography in high school, off of my random interest in snapping photographs, and that was where I learned the very basics like how to manually operate a camera. However by the time I realized I wanted to be a photographer, I had forgotten everything I learned in that class! I’m a bit sad that I still don’t remember how to develop film in the darkroom, as that is a totally awesome process. I just didn’t appreciate it at the time, and it is something I hope to experience again in the future.
Anyway, even though I’ve taken an intro class I would still consider myself about 95% self-taught. Everything I’ve learned beyond the basics of exposure has been through trial and error or researching online.
What equipment do you use for your photography and post production work?
I currently shoot with a Canon 5dmarkii and a 50mm 1.4 lens. I use Photoshop CS5 for post processing.
What keeps you passionate about shooting?
I don’t think there is really anything specific that keeps me passionate – it is just that nothing can replace the way I feel when I’m holding a camera. I feel like I have this strange sense of control over the universe, even though I know I don’t and I quite like it that way… But I feel like I have this massive ability to capture life, and portray it in my own beautiful way which is completely satisfying and makes me feel alive. I have the opportunity to take an intangible thought and watch it become something real. Photography brings me on new adventures every day, and I’ve done so many amazing things with my camera by my side.
Before finding photography, I struggled with depression for years. I was in a rough place, and it was only getting worse. But as soon as I began photography properly, I found happiness – a true passion that nothing can touch. I always say that, beyond allowing me to express myself fully, photography taught me how to live. I chase sunrises and I climb waterfalls. Taking pictures taught me how to appreciate so many things that I spent my whole life overlooking. Especially listening to the wind. Photography taught me how to do that.
A lot of my artistic life is yet to unfold, and a lot of my motives are unknown even to me, but I do know many things that inspire me, like water and sadness and hope, and sticking to my main inspirations helps me stay on track with my passion.
Are you full time or part time?
Full time and really loving it!
What do you enjoy shooting the most?
I enjoy photographing people. I don’t even really like photographing anything else unless its a part of a greater story, like at an event. I love photographing anything and everything at weddings – whatever seems relevant to eternalizing the emotion and detail of the day. Besides being in that situation, though, you won’t find me pointing my camera at anything other than a person.
Your post production is also beautiful, how do you determine what direction to take with your work?
I think the way I decide to edit is really influenced by how I’m feeling at the time. Generally though, I hope to keep my images natural enough to look real, but unexpected enough to feel a bit magical. I go through phases where I like certain colors - right now I really like cyan shades and I’ve been adjusting my blues accordingly in my most recent work. It seems like a silly answer, but I really just do what I like. I use mostly curves for my adjustments, because it is the first thing I tried to use when learning photoshop. When I saw the curves box, I just thought it looked cool and fun to play with! Over time I got really comfortable using them to get what I wanted, and that is what has developed into my current workflow. Since then I’ve experimented with just about every other tool, but I still find curves (with heavy use of layer masks!) to be the most affective and controlled method to adjusting tones and colors.
Who are your idols and what do you like about their work?
Rosie Hardy can definitely never be replaced for me, since her work is the reason I found photography. Her images are beautiful and full of dialogue, and are just so well done. Even her wedding work – she captures amazing moments and just seems to have a really good sense of emotion and how to portray it visually.
Tim Walker is another of my favorite photographers, and I absolutely adore the whimsical feeling that flows through his photos – he is so full of imagination and I love fashion a lot so seeing that incorporated into such deep stories is really intriguing to me. I also generally admire every photographer who has stuck to their dream.
What is your worst experience so far in photography?
My worst experience has probably been going through artistic blocks – I’m never really short on ideas, but there will be times where, for a few weeks, nothing I attempt is executed properly and it can just feel really terrible. It can be stressful for me now since I really need to keep producing good work in order to eat, and it can make me extra nervous about commissioned jobs. Nothing ever manages to keep me away from my camera though, because I always feel confident that this is what is right for me and in order to get to where I want to be I need to keep pushing.
What is your best experience so far in photography?
Every time I shoot is truly my best experience! Each opportunity to photograph something allows me to learn and grow and appreciate my craft even more. I’m always faced with new challenges – new successes and new failures. Though I think the incredible amount of support I have received from family and friends and strangers all over the world is amazing. It makes me feel like I can connect with people on a deeper level and as an artist that has been truly satisfying! Having someone write to me and tell me I changed his or her life, as strange as it can feel, is the best thing I could hope to accomplish.
Do you ever hold any workshops? (if not, do you plan to?)
I’ve held a few sort of informal type group workshops. They have sort of just been more like meet-ups as of now. I have trouble setting group dates, as it seems hard to coordinate and I haven’t been quite pushy enough about setting specific dates and committing to it without knowing enough people are interested. I do book one-on-one conceptual photography workshops, as well as personal skype editing classes over the internet, where it is more of a student-teacher relationship. I love having the opportunity to teach people. I’m definitely interested in doing more group workshops – there are a few things in the works for the near future that could be promising. :)
Do you have any other hobbies outside photography?
I have a few… not many though! Photography definitely consumes my life. Outside of that I still like drawing and painting, but rarely get around to it. I write fairly often and as mentioned I love fashion. I also love playing card/board games and going out to dinner! But my favorite times without my camera are just hanging out at home with my best friends, doing something completely normal like listening to music or going on walks and just laughing about the absolute nonsense we tend to think up. :P