‘What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.’ – Karl Lagerfeld
While you can teach someone the technical skills for using a camera, there’s something intangible you can’t teach. It’s that ability to see and capture the beauty in a moment that someone else can’t see. Canon’s ‘Shine A Light‘ series aims to focus on emerging photographers who are the future of photography in Australia and overseas. These talented artists are making their mark on what is a notoriously competitive industry.
Couturing are excited to be involved with this initiative, shining a light on Sydney based photographer Caitlin Withers. We caught up with Caitlin to find out about her photography work, her upcoming exhibition and why she chooses to use a Canon.
What inspires your photography?
I get inspired by my surroundings, whether it be a person I meet or a unique area. It sounds a bit funny but I am also really drawn to photographing things that have interesting textures like old paint peeling off walls or some really rough and dusty stretch of road. I find that the textures of a place set the mood of an area and make me want to go exploring.
Are there any messages behind your photos?
My images are not driven by any specific hidden messages, most of the time they are simply concerned with looking at environments from an outsiders perspective.
What is your photography trademark (i.e. what is unique to you in your photography)?
Although I have been taking photos for a while now, I have only recently started to develop my own aesthetic or style. The way I shoot is quite spontaneous and off the cuff as opposed to being set up. I like to photograph things exactly how they are in the moment and try not to change or influence anything that is going on, otherwise I will lose whatever it was that attracted me to that situation in the first place.
Why is photography important to you?
Photography has always been my first point of reference for me creatively. It is the perfect medium for me to best communicate my ideas and perspective.
Are there any social messages you are trying to get across in their work?
I want people to feel inspired to go out and explore their surroundings. I think a lot of people these days don’t really take the time to look just around or feel compelled to go out and discover new places. I hope that this is a subtle message that goes along side of my work and more of an emotion that is drawn up from looking at my images.
Why does street style photography appeal to you?
Most of the photographers that inspired me to start taking photos myself were street photographers, so I have always had that influence. Also I guess the way I learnt to use a camera was pretty influential in how I like to photograph. In High School I pretty much just to take a couple of rolls of film, go away for a couple of hours walking around the area and photograph whatever interested me, creating little briefs for myself.
I love that the photos from your recent trip to India were black and white despite the country being such a colourful one. Why do you think it’s important to think outside the square when composing and developing your photos?
Well with a place like India that has been so well covered by photographers, I think it’s really important to have a fresh or unique take on things, not only for the sake of keeping the interest of the people looking at my images but also for myself. I think that if you’re not changing it up a little bit things can get boring or stale. The reason why I chose to photograph my recent trip to India completely in black and white is because it’s not often seen in this way, I wanted to capture the boldness and diversity of India using strong shadow and light which I think Is equally representative of the atmosphere in India as colour photography. I like the fact that people are commenting on my decision to shoot in black and white, because it means they are noticing something different in the way the subject matter is being presented to them.
Is photography an outlet which helps you deal with any issues you might be facing?
It is more of an outlet that allows me to explore the world and understand it better. Any issues whether it be social or internal, I think I will always use photography as a way of recording my journey.
Are there any images taken by other photographers that they find especially powerful? Why?
The photographers in the World Press publications have some of the most moving and powerful images that I have ever seen. It is always a collection of images that have the ability to completely draw you into the story of the image and bring out strong emotions.
Which other photographers inspire you?
There are so many that I find inspiring and for different reasons. Two of my favourite photographers are Elliott Erwitt and Robert Frank, both Magnum photographers and both legends within the street documentary style but they have quite different aesthetics which I love. More current photographers that I am drawn to are people like Trent Parke who is an Australian photographer and David Alan Harvey whose raw yet refined style I really aspire to within my own work.
Do you use a Canon camera and if so why?
Yes I do, I have a 5D MkII and I usually use a prime lens when I’m out and about. I love the handling of Canon cameras. It’s really intuitive and they are great to travel with because of how sturdy they are.
What exciting things will you be working on in the next 6 months?
After my exhibition wraps up at Gaffa gallery, I will hopefully be getting back on the road to go exploring around more isolated parts of Australia, so that will be another big project for me and one that I am really excited about.
To see more of Caitlin’s work, you can visit her exhibition:
Title: In the Fervor
Where: Gaffa Gallery 281 Clarence Street, Sydney (next to town hall)
When: 26th June from 6-8pm for opening night
Finishes: 1st July