Interview with Photographer Kalie Garrett (6 photos)

We fell in love with photographer Kalie Garrett's self-portraits, calling them beautifully vulnerable, powerful, emotional and surreal. Indeed, the talented 20-year-old takes photos that undoubtably stir in emotion in anyone who sees them. Looking through Kalie's 365 day project, you'll notice how her photography skills developed over time. Read about how that project shaped her and more in our exclusive interview with Kalie, below.

Why did you start taking self-portraits?
I find it ironic how my self portraiture has evolved over the years. Photography began as a way for me to escape from everything (reality and the hurdles that follow) and draw completely inward. I was attracted to self-portraits because of how much I could capture as I learned to move my face and body in front of the camera. Over the months and years that followed my beginnings, my photography has changed as I have grown older: instead of using photos as a sort-of “digital diary” for only myself, I've been shown how much power a photo can have in connecting people.

When I am truly honest in front of my camera and show people vulnerability, I get similar reactions in return. The ability to relate to someone I have never met by means of a photograph is really fascinating. I've always loved listening to people, getting to know them on more than a surface level just as I've always loved creating with my hands so when I am given the opportunity to put those two together via self portraiture, I really could ask for nothing more.

How do you come up with such creative and beautiful ideas for your self-portraits?
This is always a tough question to answer. It used to be that I would simply set up the camera in a specific place with certain lighting and shoot until an idea would hit me. I would often think of this elaborate idea in my head and when I went to execute it, it would completely morph into something else. And that wasn't a bad thing at all, it was just how I worked.

That still happens to me today. For example, I walked past my mother's room this morning and the way her bed was sitting happened to catch my eye and I grabbed my brother and stuck him under the covers and created my photo “always forever young” in a matter of minutes.

As of recent though, I am trying to push myself to really think through the shot before I go and shoot it. Photography's not the only art form I love – I've been drawing, painting, creating and crafting for as long as I can remember. I want to start incorporating the two (both photography and crafts etc) in an attempt to really throw myself into the act of creating a scene.

What was it like working on the 365 day project? Did you find it difficult?
Oh the 365 project. Was it difficult? The word would is such an understatement. I couldn't tell you the number of times where I just wanted to throw in the towel and quit; I came close to quitting several times and had to take breaks to get my head straight again. But the feeling of accomplishment I had when I shot that final photo on day 365 is not something I could ever recreate.

I tell everyone to do the 365 challenge – it really is one of the best things that happened to me and my photography, if not the best. I look at my day one photo and compare it to my last shot and am blown away by the difference. And now, I catch myself looking through the set over and over when I want to remember that year because it literally is a diary. I look at a photo and remember everything that happened that day and with those pictures I can see all the changes I went through be it something trivial like a bad haircut or something more substantial like a personal issue. It's amazing how much that project changed me. I really cannot stress how beneficial it is and how everyone should do it. I've been contemplating doing another year…I don't know just yet.

Who are some people that inspire you?
Such a hard question for me only because it's like asking me to fit 5,000 grains of rice into a soup spoon. To name only a few, Sigur Ros is one of my musical inspirations: the blue/green tint I have in many of my photos is a result of watching their music videos. I love Mark Rothko and I think I love him because I used to hate him. He was an artist I scoffed at when I first saw his “boring” paintings and it wasn't until I actually researched the artist and his works that I realized the amount of meaning those paintings hold. Duane Michals is completely fascinating. The way in which he writes and the how he incorporates those writings with his photographs are stunning and perfect. Irving Penn's set of “corner” photos (not to mention his black-and-white portraits in general) are beyond intriguing – could stare at them for hours.

Where do you hope to take your photography from here?
I don't know and I don't think I want to know just yet. I don't want to picture myself in a specific area, shooting specific subjects (i.e. fashion, commercial, nature, portraits, etc.) simply because the thought of such definition immediately limits my imagination. If I paint myself into a box right now, I know I will be missing out on so much. What I mean is I recognize I'm still growing as a photographer and I have far too much to learn before I can focus on one area. All I am sure of at this moment is that I would love to have photography follow me as I grow older.

Thanks so much for the interview, Kalie. We absolutely love your self-portraits and are looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us in the future.

Kalie Garrett

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