Monday, November 21, 2011

Interview: Rebekah Bakker

Rebekah Bakker is a 19-year-old photographer living on the Kapiti Coast, which is a short drive north of Wellington. I met Rebekah after she joined the SYAOW group and then discovered her great photography projects through her Facebook page. Definitely the fastest interview response to date, so I've spent this afternoon clicking through her albums and choosing my favourite images to feature- so much great work for you to check out after reading her answers!

Where is 'home'?
Hamilton, born and raised! I grew up in a little town called Glen Massey, about 30 minutes from Hamilton city.

How old were you when you first started taking photos?
Maybe 15? I started out just using a point and shoot, but when my Dad noticed I was interested in photography he passed his old Nikkormat film camera on to me.

Where do you think your interest in photography came from?
Both of my parents were into it at one point, I think my dad more so than my mum. They've told me stories about having a darkroom set up in a closet at their old house which I think is super cool, and I've seen some of my Dad's old photos. My own interest in photography started before I even knew that had my parents had enjoyed it as a hobby... So I guess I've just always loved the idea of capturing a feeling or a moment.

What photography qualifications do you hold?
Top of Class Award and Pass with Merit Distinction for Certificate of Practical Photography with The Photo School. I'm doing my Advanced Certificate now and I finish in December. Next year I'm thinking about moving to Auckland and doing my Diploma in Photography at Whitecliffe.

What equipment do you currently use?
I currently use Nikon D5000 (digital) with a speedlight flash and studio equipment available to me at The Photo School. For film I still use my dads Nikkormat, and the darkroom facilities at The Photo School.

What software do you use to edit your photographs?
I use Adobe Lightroom for basic editing and if I have to do more advanced editing I use Adobe Photoshop. I had a little bit of Photoshop training when I worked with the Medical Photographers at Waikato Hospital, but it wasn't until I started The Photo School that I had regular Photoshop and Lightroom lessons.

Do you prefer shooting with film or digital?
That's a tough one! I love both for very different reasons. I love the purity of film, and I think shooting in film makes you think more about the photos you're taking, because you only have a limited number of frames, as opposed to digital where you can shoot infinite images (or until your memeory card fills up anyway). Lately I've been nerding out over alternative processes like salt prints and gum bichromate prints which are loads of fun! However in this day and age, digital is definately the way to go. So much easier, faster, more reliable.

Would you like photography to become your career, and is there a particular photographic field you would prefer to work in full time?
Eventually yes. I want to travel before I settle down and start up my business. I imagine I'll have a fairly steady income of commercial work, but what I really want to be doing is holding galleries and exhibitions of my work, and selling them as artworks.

Do you have any exhibiting experience?
None.. Only portfolio presentation for The Photo School. I'm hoping to have an exhibition running in Hamilton over summer- fingers crossed!

What inspires you?
Mostly light... When I see how the light is hitting something at a certain time of day, or if it's reflecting off something. The most important thing in photography is lighting. I get inspired by things that are a bit shocking. For example the 'Avoid Rape' shoot and the 'Eat Meat' shoot.

Who are your favourite photographers?
Peter Coulson is my absolute favourite photographer, he's amazing. Also, Rena Effendi, she's a documentary photographer and her series 'Full Circle' of transgenders in Istanbul is great.

What is your favourite subject to photograph?
I like working with models. I don't enjoy still life so much, and I couldn't be a portrait or family photographer because I have trouble directing people who don't know how to pose. I like to take photos that make people think.

How do you go about finding models for your work?
Models can be really rare, especially if you're asking her to take her clothes off and put on a mask or something... I have a lot of wonderful friends who volunteer from time to time, or I use Facebook to send out the word and I'll usually get someone interested.

Do you find it easier to shoot with strangers or people you already know?
It doesn't make a lot of difference to me, I am the photographer and they are the model. But I think for my nude and semi-nude shoots the models feel more comfortable if they know me personally.

During a shoot with a model, many photos would you take to find 'the right one'?
Anywhere from 40 - 100. It depends on how the shoots going and how complicated the set up is.

Did you study photography during your high school education?
Fairfield College doesn't offer photography as a subject, which I think is a real shame, but in my last year of highschool some of us students and a teacher who is into photography set a sort of photo club, and we would organise shoots for the weekend etc. In some ways I think this was better than a structured photography class because it was more hands on (and no written work!) During highschool I also did a work placement at Waikato Hospital with the Medical Photographers, where I learnt heaps.

Have you experimented with any other forms of art?
Only in a photography related way... Toning and dying prints, painting and drawing on prints etc.

How would you describe your photography style?
A bit shocking sometimes... When people see my more controversial images they're not quite sure what to say at first.

Do you have one photograph that's your favourite?
My most recent work is always my favourite... So probably 'Eat Meat' is at the top of the list at the moment. Oh, or this photo I took of a friend at a hardcore show, just because it always cracks me up...

What would you like to be photographing in five years time?
In five years I'm hoping to be making a steady income from photography, hosting galleries and exhibitions, and generally doing what I love!


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