Nathan: If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?
Tatiana: “I take photos in a dream place where models, including myself, find themselves”
Nathan: Describe your connection(s) to the subject matter(s) you photograph? For example, if you are drawn to landscapes, what about the landscape, or nature, draws you to photograph it?
Tatiana: Portraits, it’s their intensity. Love emotions, inner worlds.
I mostly focus on hands, feet, the movement of the body… I want to capture the truth beneath the surface. After a while models tend to forget the camera is there and then… either a deep sweetness or a deep bitterness surfaces… The mask is down.
They are by themselves and their movements are true.
I’m interested in what people feel, not in how they look. And I want them to take the photo session as a personal journey, for their own healing… No forced smiles, not even eyes that look straightforward into the camera… I’m looking for something subtle… the face, the self we keep to ourselves.
Nathan: Photography is many things … but one of its most important facets is the connection between what a photographer sees and how he or she chooses to capture it. This relationship typically changes over time— so much so, in fact, that many photographers feel it changes how they see. What are your thoughts about this?
Tatiana: Has it changed? I don’t think it has, Nathan… maybe because I don’t take photos of the real world…. The space I photograph is no where but in my studio… my eyes only “see photos” there… the real world is a foreign place to me…
Nathan: Do you (a) previsualize what your photograph is going to look like, (b) discover what you wish to create as you create, or (c) engage a little of both?
Tatiana: I do… because I need to create the stage and choose the props, but then, I let go and wait for the unexpected.
Nathan: When you process your photos, do you listen to music? If yes, what music do you prefer to listen to and do you think that music influences how you process your images?
Tatiana: Yes, I do. Violin, cello and piano… never lyrics.
I usually have one particular melody that haunts me for months, years… it takes me instantly to a “place” where I can say exactly how I feel with images.
Music forms images… unlocks deep emotions… takes me far away.
Nathan: Who are three of your favorite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Tatiana: Julia Margaret Cameron, Dora Maar, Man Ray …
When I look at Cameron’s photos I see archetypes, Jung’s archetypes… very powerful… in part is because how she presents the scene, but, also I think she manages to bring out their true essence… There is a psychological element that pulls me every time… And last, because her photos come from the past, a pre-modern time… and my own photos always end up having that feeling too…
Maar and Ray bring photography to the territory of dreams, the unconscious, they take photos of something that is not there or that is “strange”, that will affect the viewer… Their photos made me think it was possible… if they managed, I could manage too…
Nathan: Select a single photograph by another artist that inspires you. Explain why you are drawn to it and how it has inspired you.
Tatiana: Man Ray’s… “Sleeping Woman” 1929
It’s dreamy, the model is not pose, not pleasing… she is in her own world… and she is gentle with herself… I do not want to portrait “violence”, I take photos in a “healing space”.
I have this photograph in my house, I love looking at it, it gives me a sense of peace.
Nathan: What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)?
1. The “cave painters”
Images were sacred. They had a deep meaning, were treated as magic. There was a ritual, a personal journey … My photo sessions are a bit like that, there are “rituals” and models do go through a personal journey … I don’t just take a photo … I let them explore. Plus I paint and repaint the background wall.
2. William Turner
“Space” is the protagonist… details are of no importance… it’s the “feeling” that matters. Pure emotion. An explosion…
I find that the space around us has some kind of “weather”, I always notice it in people and in my photos I want to express that…. We are us and the air around us. Turner’s skies are simply so romantic, turbulent, restless… perfect.
3. Gustav Klimt
His poetic portraits… the background is blurry, flat… everything has disappear… it’s just the model and her own world. Love also how he brings out their own particular type of beauty…
Would love that… kind of poetry and to show my models beauty, true beauty…
Love the light in his paintings, his color palette, the tiny spaces with few visual elements, his lack of pretense… his images are intimate, delicate, poetic…
“Intimate, delicate and poetic” is what I’m looking for in my images.
5. Jackson Pollock
Again, it’s pure emotion, complete freedom.
I started painting as part of the process of creating a photo, but more and more I paint because I need to… I love getting lost in a storm of paint and that “storm” then is still there in my photos.
6. The turn of the century-beginning of the XX century in Europe … Van Gogh, the French impressionists… Monet, also the German Expressionists (The Blue Horse Movement) in Germany…
They made a point on breaking with documenting reality, it was how they felt reality that matter … it translated into the use of colors and the blurry strokes, and that’s what I try to do as well…
II. Performance Art
Her search for cathartic experiences, life changing inner journeys. Her honesty, she keeps it “real”. She is one hundred committed to her work.
I love that she doesn’t know where the performance will take her … I try to go there every time…
His collective unconscious, the way he “reads” people, dreams… the archetypes. He never ceases to amaze me.
I want to bring my models (myself included) to that territory… to their deepest longings.
1. Marguerite Duras
I love both her writing and her movies. With her, everything is boiled down to pure emotion. No clutter. Just “voices”, “bodies” interacting… wanting, not wanting.
I love that “economy”, that “honesty” in my work.
2. Alfred Hitchcock
Love how he tells stories, difficult stories. Visually beautiful and full of meaning, pain. Everything is either black or white… and then, there are “the greys” and you do not want to know more, but you do… he pulls you there.
Those are the stories that interest me, the painful ones. And I would love to pull people the same way he does.
Eugene Ionesco’s Plays
His sense of the absurd, the lack of meaning, senseless life… he searches for a “imaginative truth” …for deep drama.
I can see that in my work too.
The Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier … they are all behind my photos. Their search is my search; their storm is my storm.
Nathan: What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?
Tatiana: Limitations. I do not look for them, but, I’ve learned to see the potential of “less”. I don’t usually have the best gear or think in those terms, though I like nice cameras… yet, at the end, it’s the poetry of the moment that needs to be there…
Nathan: How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?
Tatiana: I think there is such a thing as fine art… it deals with some kind, level of personal research… and not with “prettiness” …it might please the eye, but that’s not what moves it.
Nathan: If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?
Tatiana: Turn your eyes inwards. Go deep inside and trust…
Nathan: What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing? Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?
Tatiana: Online sharing has made life so much easier for artists in my opinion…
I don’t have to move to Paris in order to find other artists, like Picasso did… I can see art from my computer and talk to other creative people around the world.
It has changed my life, I live in a slightly isolated area, and nevertheless, I feel connected, part of a community. We talk, we share, we go through the same global events together… it’s quite lovely.
I prefer Facebook to all the rest… it gives me a glimpse of the everyone’s personality, not just their images…
Nathan: What are our thoughts about photography contests? Do you think they are (a) a true measure of artistic success or value, (b) just an opportunity for a business to make money off photographers looking for exposure and validation, or (c) something in-between a and b?
Tatiana: It’s a balance… they can offer “visibility”, yet it’s true, everybody seems to be making money but the photographer/artist…
Nathan: What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most (e.g. did you use Photoshop or is straight out of the camera)?
Tatiana: I do feel a touch of impatience when some models “pose”. They see “photography as a social event”, to promote themselves, to show to others… Not as “art”.
So I always try to explain that the sessions are an experience, a journey that will give them an unexpected glimpse of themselves.
I find the remark about Photoshop slightly offensive…
Nathan: If you were stranded on an island, and you could have one camera, one lens, one filter, one tripod, two books, and ten CDs, what would they be and why?
Tatiana: My old camera, no filters, my old tripod.
Books: Wuthering Heights and Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems.
CDs: Bach, Chopin, Albinoni, Rachmaninov, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Bossa Nova, Cesaria Evora, Portuguese fados, Hans Zimmer’s soundtracks…
Nathan: Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Tatiana: I would like to go deeper into the subconscious… find all the archetypes with my camera.
Nathan: Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos? (I am, once again, most interested in the why.)
Tatiana: Yes. I dream with going to Iceland. It looks like my inner world. Desolated, lonely, yet not sad… Love the light, the colors, the textures of the landscape… its silence.
Nathan: Is there anything else you wish to add?
Tatiana: Thank you for this questionnaire, Nathan. I just wish it could be a dialogue… always wonder about your own process when I look at your photos. Hope one day we can have a dialogue and share both sides. Take care. Love the poetry in your work. And your search for silence.
Explore more of Tatiana’s photography: Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
A Spotlight on a Few Images
These three photos include a model immersed in her own world. Her emotions are so intense that if feels as if she was “outside” under a storm… yet she is in a room. There is not enough information, there is a sense of suspense, our eyes are drawn to her. Something important is happening and we want to know more.
There is a sense that we are actually “told”, that all the secrets are there, visible … yet, we can’t be sure.
So, it’s photography telling a story, dealing with difficult emotions. Secrets. Dreams. The untold.
First, I paint the studio walls… some kind of cloud or storm as a background, I choose the color palette… make a sculpture or choose props, pieces of furniture (from my house).
Second, once the stage is ready, I invite one or more models. We go through the photo session… which involves not knowing, the process is similar to performance art and the personal journey that it involves.
Third, I take photos of textures around me…
Fourth, I work in the computer. I transform the initial photos digitally, combine them with the photos I took of textures.
Five, match the final images with my own poems to create a story. Sometimes is a one photo story, sometimes, the story develops in three images-stages, like a comic strip.
Six, I make a movie with the material from the photo session. I add bits of my daily life, and of the art making process to give a sense of my life. It’s kind of a journal for me.