KAFFE TALK WITH CAMILE O’BRIANT
Over the holidays, Camile and I were discussing work/live balance and where our love of photography fits into that equation. She told me about her wonderful experience blogging and how it has given her a forum to share and display her art. That got me thinking and…thus duvalldesignblog.com was born.
1. When did you first discover your love of photography? I took a photography class in high school. I’d have to say I was the least likely student out of that class to actually become a photographer. I was horrible. Like the “teacher shaking her head” horrible. So, I think it was right after high school when my mom bought me my very first 35mm camera. That’s when I went crazy taking pictures and fell in love.
2. Which camera(s) do you like to use? I really love my Olympus Pen EE-2, circa 1960’s. I even have a couple of exact back-ups, just in case something happens to it. That’s how much I love this thing. The lens is super sharp and I love that it has half frame capabilities. It’s how I get some really interesting diptychs. I also have a Canon T1i that I’ve had for a year and it certainly has its conveniences and perks. I own about 20 cameras in all and I can’t part with any of them. Digital vs. Film: I’d say I’m more of a film girl. I learned to manipulate film early on and I feel I have more control when shooting film.
3. What inspires you? This is a hard one. I could say, “Everything”, but that’s a bit far reaching. I think that “moments” inspire me. Photography really being a time capturing device/medium, is so powerful in that you can capture a slight expression that might get missed by the human eye or an incident that will never happen again. It almost boggles my mind to think about how it’s changed the world and how we see ourselves. That inspires me.
4. Who are some of your favorite photographers? Walker Evans, Robert Frank, James Van Der Zee, Alfred Stieglitz, William Eggleston, Julia Margaret Cameron, Andre Kertesz, James Nachtwey, and my absolute favorite Jacques-Henri Lartigue. I’m forgetting some, but these photographers resonate with me the most.
5. How do you integrate your love of photography in your life? Blogging has really helped me to stay in touch with taking photographs and given me an open venue to share my work. I’ve actually produced some of my best work since starting my blog a year ago. I also take a lot of photos with my iPhone. It’s portable and that’s really important to me.
6. Have you ever thought of doing a series that speaks to a social issue? If so, what have your thought about creating. About ten years ago I was working on a project that would have taken me to Brazil to photograph the many homeless children in the slums in Rio de Janeiro . I even had a film company ready to donate film, but the whole thing fell through. I wanted to raise money and awareness for a school there that teaches these homeless children. Currently, thoughts of documenting L.A.’s vast homeless population have crossed my mind. We’ll see.
7. Funniest photo story…. or most memorable? Memorable:Several years ago I took photos of a lady named Ansley. She was in town visiting a friend of mine and wanted some fun shots done. We had a great time improvising and creating outfits. She was gregarious and really easy to shoot. I got the film developed and got her proofs so she could let me know what prints she wanted, etc. Well, I never heard from her and it always kind of bothered me. I thought the pictures turned out great and I had the impression that she was happy with them. Well, recently I found out that she was killed in a car accident a few years ago. I was really shaken by this and it made our time together that day so precious to me. I’m honored to have photographed her. I’ve included a favorite shot of her.
8. Are you self taught or studied? Both. I studied fine art in college and changed my focus to Fine Arts Photography my junior year. The self taught part started after high school. I would make my friends pose for pictures and basically photographed everything in sight. Most of my images from back then are pretty bad, but it was part of the learning process. I’m not the most technical of photographers, but I have a pretty solid toolkit of knowledge to get the shots I want to.
9. I believe the visual creative process is some combination of concept + image + design. What is your ratio of these elements when creating your art? Or do you consider any of them? Are you more of an instinctual artist?
I would say that I am mainly an instinctual artist, but I credit my art school training for my ability to frame a shot and to play with composition, which I consider to be an important design element in photography. I was drawing and designing every day in college and I think that those basic skills play a huge role in my photography, even if it’s on an instinctual level now. As far as concepts go: In college, I was trained to be a conceptual artist. That’s all we did and it was exhausting. I found myself wanting a more freedom in what I was photographing and how I was doing it. I started setting up shoots outside of class that were completely different from the course work. This helped me appreciate the value of conceptualizing, but gave me some balance with my work.
Thank you Camile for taking time out to share with us. I suspect you may have a few more Art Crushes post interview.
Keep up the inspirational work.
Photos © Camile O’Briant
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