Interview AD – 22 februari 2020
De Hellevoetse fotograaf Kaat Stieber heeft onlangs de Grote Paul Award gewonnen. Dat is een prijs waarbij vakgenoten bepalen wie dat jaar de beste fotograaf van het jaar is. Eerder mochten Pim Ras en Stephan vanfleteren hem a in ontvangst nemen.
Dankjewel , ik ben er heel blij mee
Zag je het aankomen?
Nee, eigenlijk niet, omdat ik heel ander werk maak dan de andere genomineerden. Ik zit in de kunstfotografie en ben de eerste die in deze categorie heeft gewonnen. Met kunst is het altijd lastig. Want ik kan wel iets mooi vinden, maar dat betekent niet dat anderen dat ook vinden. Dus dat luk heb gewonnen is wel een bevestiging dat het goed is.
HOE VIND JE HET DAT ANDERE FOTOGRAFEN JOU ALS BESTE KOZEN?
Dat vind ik nog leuker dan een publieksprijs. Het is echt een eer en dat maakt deze prijs bijzonder.
HOE OMSCHRIJF JE JE STIJL?
De werken die ik maak zijn surrealistisch met een mix van oude Nederlandse meesters. Elke foto heeft iets schilderachtige waarbij ik soms handmatig kostuums, decors en achtergronden maak. Ik vind het leuk als er net andere dingen in mijn werken gebeuren dan je zou verwachten.
WORDT EEN FOTO ZOALS JE VERWACHT?
Ik heb wel vaak al een beeld in mijn hoofd, maar dat wil niet zeggen dat het zo wordt. Ik krijg gaandeweg het proces regelmatig nieuwe ideeën. Dan wil ik ineens een ezel erbij, dan moet kim op zoek naar een ezel.
WAT GA JE NOG DOEN DIT JAAR?
Toevallig is vanaf vandaag mijn expositie in de Hofgalerie in Den Haag te zien. Fat is altijd heel leuk. Verder wil ik dit jaar een langlopende serie afmaken zodat ik er een boek van kan maken. Ook wil ik verder in het buitenland met mijn werk.
New York – may 2019 – see me
I can only create. it is a way to live life and to tell all the beautiful things that surround me and to deal with the ordeals in life
When Kaat Stieber stepped into the world of art, although her first choice wasn’t photography. After 20 years of successful career in theater, she became an award-winning photographer by combining her international experience and artistic perspective. Portrait photography wasn’t creative enough for her, and she decided to create her own style by implementing surrealism and artistic approach of the Dutch Golden Age into her images. Kaat Stieber creates works as a photographer and also teaches art enthusiasts fine art photography. I talked with Fine Art Photographer Kaat Stieber about her career and the basics of fine art photography.
Kaat, before talking about fine art photography, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Kaat Stieber?
I have a rich fantasy world where I can stay for days and at the same time take my responsibility in real life. I am a happy person and proud mother who has found a perfect balance with a promise to myself. I will make a living with what makes me happy.
When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo that you shoot with it?
A friend of our family gave me my first camera at the age of nine, I thought it was great and my rabbits were my first models. When I moved to the US as a teenager, I got my first serious camera and I started to entertain friends to make photo shoots.
How did you decide to pursue a career in photography?
I already had a great career in the theater. In the meantime, I was always photographing and secretly dreamed of becoming a photographer someday. Yet I needed a wake-up call to really make the best decision ever. When my world seemed to collapse, I knew I did not meet all my wishes and dreams.
What is fine art photography? Could you briefly inform us about it?
To me, fine art photography is creating an image and telling a story that was in my mind. I can recreate exactly what I envisioned, that’s so satisfying.
I enjoy the freedom of creating whatever I feel needs to be told.
What inspired you to combine surrealism and Dutch art?
I tried to find a home in many places around the world to find out that my origin is a beautiful country. I am proud of our Dutch culture and our rich art history. I admire the old masters who made beautifully detailed paintings with so much patience. As a teenager, I already fell for the surrealist works of Dali and Gaudi’s buildings. I enjoy the imaginative and that the imagination has no limits.
And you have been teaching this technique to photographers and enthusiast. Could you tell us about your workshop?
I was often asked if I could teach, of course, I thought about what I could offer photographers. After the first workshop, I was pleasantly surprised that it was such an inspiring day and also wonderful to meet others photographers with their own special story.
I enjoy sharing my passion for photography with enthusiastic people. Photography is a continuous process of learning, so I know for sure that it will never get boring. The atmosphere on these days is special, I enjoy it when I see photographers grow in their skills and self-confidence.
Meet Incredible Kaat Stieber from the Netherlands! She is a single mother, a true artistic spirit, costume designer, a singer, and highly talented photographer!
Q: Dear Kaat, We want to congratulate one more time on winning our monthly contest CPC Portrait Awards, February 2019! How does it feel to be a winner?
A: It feels like a gift! The fact that others appreciate my work and the confirmation this type is a clear sign that I have to keep doing what my heart tells me to do.
Art Comes From an Unexpected Place
Q: If we might notice, your latest (winning) series was something different, almost like a step out of the comfort zone. Can you please share with us how did you get the idea for this project and share with us all the details when it comes to actual shooting and post production? Please include the story about costumes used for this photo shoot
A: Yes, it’s out of my comfort zone and in a new and sad situation of life.
The location where this series was created became even more important to me because of the circumstances. The photos have been processed at my parents home on the side of my sick father. An intense period that makes me think about life a lot, from beginning to end. With the series I want to tell my story: As children, we start wearing disguises, masks to protect and give our best presentation. It is only at the end that we undress and become our naked truth.
Winning Photograph on CPC Portrait Awards, February 2019. From the series “Carnival” by Kaat Stieber
In old photo albums, we were looking for beautiful childhood photos of my father, the colors and style of that era are a direct inspiration for the look of the series.
Before I was a photographer I was making costumes for the theater. Nowadays I regularly make my clothes digitally in parts or sometimes to scale. Of course, parts and materials have to be photographed and later come together in a picture.
Many Faces of Kaat Stieber
Q: Can you introduce us to Kaat Stieber? How old are you? Is photography your full-time job?
A: I was born in the Netherlands and raised in the rest of the world.
I have been blessed to raise two beautiful daughters as a single mom. Meanwhile, they are beautiful big girls now and at the age of 46, I have the time for a new career.
Last year I quit with my theater and my singing career after 20 years. My love for photography is now bigger and I have made the exciting decision to go completely for photography.
Q: Can you share with us what was your most unusual/scary/awkward or the most exciting moment since you are a photographer?
A: That is already quite a lot. I especially enjoy an exhibition when my work is beautiful and I hear the audience talking about it.
Some Things are Meant To Be
Q: When did you start with photography? When did you realize it’s something you should do more seriously?
A: When everyone kept asking me to take their pictures.
When I had the idea to go on a training day, I met my friends in a pub. On the other side of the street I saw the photo academy. One month later I was in attending the academy.
I believe some things are simply meant to be.
A: Ideas come naturally. I like to tell stories like I used to do in the theater. Photography makes this easier and faster. I have no limits because I also do a lot of digital work also. I could not spread my wings and fly in the theater. With photography, that is possible!
I mostly work with children for my portraits. The children in my images are seen as wholesome humans, each one strongly portraying a certain character.
Of course every image is different. It takes between a day and two weeks to create. When I have my own costume, decor or props, it also takes time in advance.
It’s All About Story
Q: From your point of view, what makes a good picture?
A: If the image has a story.
I do not think it is necessary for my story to be seen or literal. Everyone can make their own story out of it.
In addition, an image must be technically perfect from beginning to end.
Q: Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer?
A: For me personally I have no need to photograph and record everything. I prefer to make an image that exists because I thought of it and created it.
I have no need to capture the world, I prefer to make my own new world.
Q: What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portraits?
A: Capture the soul of my model in the best lighting.
Inspiration is Everywhere
Q: What inspires you?
A: Life, human beings, history, old paintings and artists, the beauty of nature and much more.
Q: Your favorite photographers?
A: Gregory Crewdson, Erwin Olaf, Irving Penn, Kirsty Mitchell.
Child Photography Scene
Q: What do you think about child photography scene today?
A: It is nice that there are so much interest and so many good photographers outhere. I enjoy looking at other photographers work. I see a lot of things that I like.
Q: What’s in your camera bag? (Body and lenses)
A: Canon 5d mark IV. 24-70 mm and 50 mm.
I also always carry a mirrorless fuji film camera when I travel to shoot my own stock images when I see something I ned to capture.
Q: What about light? Do you prefer studio or natural light?
A: I prefer my studio. The weather and light is always great and the same every day. Certainly nice if you create series.
Q: Any advice for other photographers who are entering our contest? Any tip on how to win considering your experience?
A: I have no advice, it feels like I’ve been lucky enough to win. Everyone has to follow its heart in photography, simply because it makes you extra happy. Maybe that’s even the recipe and if not, then you’re a happy person.