Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fine art & the whimsical femme | An Interview with Shae Detar

How old were you when you decided Photography was your passion and can you tell us how you found yourself a career as a photographer?

When I was a teenager I often would paint on magazine pages and make collages, but I was always painting on an image I found that belonged to someone else. It was just a creative outlet and I didn’t think of it as art or anything serious. Around that same time, I stumbled upon Peter Beards collaged and painted photos of his life in Africa. I remember meeting him twice, when I was probably 20. A friend of his and mine brought me along to his studio, it was the first real artist I had ever spent time with. He was so inspiring…and as I think back, I realize he must have influenced me. When I began taking photos I instantly was very hands on with my work…using paint, developing in darkroom, choosing anything but the computer more often than not.

Your work has a very ethereal and feminine undertone to it. Where do you find your inspiration for your work and are their central themes you like to visit and re-visit? 

It’s true, my work is very feminine and I am not sure why I lean towards that aesthetic, it is just what comes naturally to me. I understand women more than men and my visual perspective is often from a women’s point of view on life. The odd thing is that my favorite artists are generally men. But they are men that are painting or photographing predominantly women, or nature. I mean hands down my favorite art is impressionism, mainly Degas, Manet, Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh…Steichen. They are all men…but then the other oddity is that my favorite writers are usually women, like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.

General themes I revisit…nature, epic landscapes, certain muted color schemes.

    A lot of your photography features women. What is it you like about photographing women more so than men?

I think I answered this question in my last answer. ;)


Can you briefly explain the process you undertake from idea to finished photo?

Music is usually the first part of my process. I sit down and choose music and I begin to let my mind wander. Classical music and film scores are all I am listening to right now. My husband is a film composer now, so film scores are always on my mind these days. Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception’s is so great and Tree Of Life, The Piano, Amelie and Pride and Prejudice, are all on heavy rotation for me. Location, costumes and a muse follow. Nature plays a huge role in my imagery, so a location is very important to me. A blank photo backdrop is something I have yet to fall in love with… artists like Paolo Roversi manage to make magic in studios, but that is something I haven't worked my brain around yet, but I generally never say never.

Are there any photographers you admire and would love to someday work/collaborate with?

I love the work of Steichen, Sally Mann and Sarah Moon. I love so many photography works, but generally the work I love is done by people that don’t just take images but make them by contributing greatly with the use of their hands, by way of alternative process or developing or something like this.

Is there any subject matter or person you would love to shoot but haven't yet had the opportunity to?

I would very much like to photograph Sally Mann. I’ve contemplated writing her and asking. Actually, Peter Beard and Nelson Mandela too, They are men and I don't often photograph them, but I would be honored to make an image with them in it, though I don't think that will likely happen. :) There are so many artists, directors and writers that I would love to photograph. But it would have to be on my terms, not in some studio room with a white backdrop, I would only want to collaborate with them in a setting that I feel suits them.

  Is there one piece of your work that you are most fond of or proud of?

These images I shot recently of painter Ariana Papademetropoulos up in the mountains. I don’t often love my own work, but those images do resonate with me to some degree.

I absolutely love your hand painted photography. There is a very personal and almost spiritual aesthetic about your painted works. How difficult was it to discover what works and what doesn't? 

Aww thank you so much for those kind words. It wasn’t difficult, it just took time and patience, learning by trial and error. People write me quite a bit asking for my process and how do I do exactly what I do, and I always tell them, there is not one method or way of doing it. It took me literally the last 4 years of focusing only on paints and being experimental and I am sure I will come up with new things as time goes on. It’s really just the beginning for me, because 4 years is so little time in the large scheme of things. I always suggest people explore and you may find techniques that are really awesome, but you won’t know unless you begin to navigate a journey of your own.

How hard is it to maintain personal integrity while also working on more commercial photography? How do you ensure it is still uniquely yours?

I am really a fine art photographer and I have only done a handful of commercial type work.  It’s a compromise, to be sure…but for me personally, I think I have to stay true to my own voice as much I possibly can, within reason. I also think that communication prior to the shoot, and prior to booking the job, is VERY important. The client should know exactly where you stand artistically and what sort of image they will receive at the end.

What can we expect from Shae Detar in the future?

My intention is to always create, as the years go by. Whether that means I have a day job outside of art, to pay bills or not…I imagine I will always express myself on the side in some sort of artistic way.