SPONSORED POST: Q&A with Katherine Finkelstein, Brought to You by Art She Said
by Awl Staff
The Awl: You just had some really great beachy photos on your blog and, as with the Internet in general, I had to wonder: is she beaching now? Or is she digging back in her flash drives and cameras to find great things to make us remember summer?
Katherine Finkelstein: Ooooh you caught me. Yeah that was some film I just got developed. From August or so.
The Awl: Are you an “exclusively on film” kind of shooter?
Katherine Finkelstein: No, I shot almost all of the shoot for artshesaid digitally. But iIlove film and use it often.
The Awl: But you don’t have an Extreme Moralistic Stance about it.
Katherine Finkelstein: Not extremely no….
The Awl: That’s probably for the best. So I love the entry-page photo on your website. It’s very aggressive and defining!
Katherine Finkelstein: Haha, yeah, that’s kind of what I was going for. I thought it was a nice welcomer to the site.
The Awl: What does it mean about you as a photographer? I find you pleasantly hard to pin down. You don’t really do garish and harsh, but you’re not really overly romanticizing either. What are you trying to do?
Katherine Finkelstein: Well I’m still figuring it that out. I just try to do what feels natural. I am interested in fashion — but more character-based. Basically I’m into people. Anything that feels real. But I do have a hard time defining myself.
The Awl: Well that’s normal! (I hope!) And that’s interesting — like “the stagey” doesn’t really show up in your work. Like, it never gets too elaborate or bizarre.
Katherine Finkelstein: I like to keep it ambiguous
The Awl: Do you ever run into trouble when you’re shooting “naturally,” like, when out with friends on expeditions? Do you have friends who are like “STOP TAKING MY PHOTO!”?
Katherine Finkelstein: Haha, that happens occasionally. But mostly my friends are really cool with it. And they are great subjects that I have been shooting for years now. And I think people are pretty used to the idea of me with the camera.
The Awl: Oh that’s cool, so they have like a record!
Katherine Finkelstein: Yes! Recurring characters in my ongoing narrative.
The Awl: That actually gets better and better over time. Boyfriends and girlfriends come and go and everyone gets older!
Katherine Finkelstein: In some sense my photos are a biography. But one that doesn’t really disclose the details — or maybe only discloses the details. And you have to put the story together. I like when things have a cinematic feel, like there is some larger narrative going on. But it’s not really that anything epic is going on at all. It’s actually often the mundane I’m interested in.
The Awl: That’s true. It’s like, life is eating corn on the cob, really. Where are you going shooting next??
Katherine Finkelstein: I don’t usually go into something with a shot list. Most of my pictures were taken while I’m hanging out with friends somewhere beautiful. It’s really as simple as that. Though when you start working in fashion, planning shoots, collaborating with a whole team (stylist, hair, makeup, model) you do have to go into it with at least somewhat of a concept.
I would imagine all that is annoying!
But it’s actually really fun! Like for artshesaid, I worked with Durga and my stylist, Victoria Cameron, on concept, influences, etc. But them we get there and it’s raining all day and that gives the shoot a whole new edge. Something you really can’t plan for.
So instead of documenting the story of what’s around you, you did have to get together and talk about making a story.
Katherine Finkelstein: But you still end up documenting the story that’s around
you. The shoot, the day, that’s a story. This for me was the ideal way I would like to shoot a fashion story
The Awl: It’s low to medium structure! With maximixed pleasure!
Katherine Finkelstein: Yes! I like having the freedom to change it up. To react to what is there when it’s actually there, at the moment of the photograph.
“The Smartest Thing She Ever Said” is a Tumblr based digital storytelling art project featuring four teams of two-one artist and one story editor-between now and the end of the year. For three weeks each, the teams were asked to interpret the phrase, “The Smartest Thing She’s Ever Said.” The current team features photographer Katherine Finkelstein and writer Durga Polashi with support from project curator Alexis Hyde. ArtSheSaid.com and its artists are entirely supported by Ann Taylor in collaboration with Flavorpill.