Interview #9: Cassie Kammerzell
CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?
Cassie Kammerzell: I started to peruse through fashion editorials when I was twelve or thirteen years old. My interest in photography certainly piqued from there. I loved the elaborate sets and feeling I could get just by looking into those pages, and I still adore those spreads even now that I typically favor a more simple type of image.
CUS: What kind of camera do you enjoy using the most?
CK: My Polaroid. There's one button to operate, you never know what you're going to get, and everything captured turns to magic. You've gotta love that. I have a ton of photos but no scanner, so I guess they're secrets for now.
CUS: Do you always have preconceived concepts of what you want to shoot?
CK: Not always, no. Loitering and doing nothing with my friend Sadie often turns into half-joking photo sessions that yield fun results. That being said though, I do love seeing my ideas turned into something real. Inspiration comes in bursts for me, and all these different images will come at my mind like a flood. Sometimes I choose to act them out immediately, but I usually write down as much about each still as possible so I can remember it later exactly the way I saw it initially. There are pages and pages of these descriptions, and I want to bring each moment to life someday. Well, I mean, as closely as I can come! My attempts at doing so thus far have been almost humorous in their poor interpretation, but I usually end up with something in the same vein.
CUS: Do you have a favorite subject you like to shoot? And why?
CK: Tabletops, trinkets, corners, breakfasts. Things that aren't living yet are still full of life. One's ordinary moments can say and mean so, so much.
CUS: If you could go anywhere in the world to take photographs where would you go?
CK: Finland. Enchanting spans of forest and dreamy winters. Yes, please.
CUS: If every photograph should contain one key element, what would it be in your opinion?
CK: I can't think of one. I mean, besides including something interesting, I don't think there's any key element every photo should have. Shoot what you see, what you want to see. Break rules and try new things and go crazy.
CUS: What is the thing you like the least about photography? The most?
CK: It's disappointing when you can't get an idea to present itself the way you see it, and the technical mumbojumbo sometimes boggles my mind. However, I love that "mistakes" can turn into something better than my original intention. I guess I love the surprises.
CUS: Do you feel that your mood affects the type of photographs you produce on a particular day?
CK: No matter what type of mood I'm in, I'd always rather be somewhere a little bit softer, a little bit dreamier. I don't know, maybe I don't notice if my ups and downs effect my photos, but I don't think they do. That's not to say there's no emotion behind what I do, but you won't find me taking dark photos 'cause I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
CUS: If you could photograph any person (past or present) who would you choose?
CK: Brian Wilson circa 1967.
CUS: What is your favorite photograph that you’ve taken?
CK: Right now I like this one of my friend Sadie. The memories make me happy.
CUS: How much time do you generally spend on a shoot?
CK: No more than a few moments, to be true.
CUS: Your photography is very dreamy and ethereal; what is it about this certain aesthetic that interests you?
CK: It pleases me that you think so! It's such a delight to find a tiny piece of Wonderland amongst the boring every day. I suppose I like to find those tiny places and moments, capture them, and hide there. It's more than nice to create and escape into this other world every now and then.
CUS: What sort of themes do you try to explore through your photographs? Is there any one in particular in which you try to convey often?
CK: If there's a theme, it isn't an intentional one. I do really like cozy, sweet things and throwbacks to childhood.
CUS: Do your photographs go through some sort of post-processing treatment? And if so what kind of effect do you try to produce through Photoshop/other post-processing tools?
CK: When shooting digitally, yes, almost always. I tinker around with curves and color balance until I find something that appeals to me. If I knew any more about digital editing I might overdo it, so I think its best that I stay in the dark and keep it to color meddling and an added layer every now and again.
CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?
CK: My biggest? Oh, but there are so many things! Ballet, the sky in all its moods, Joanna Newsom, elves, early mornings, nature, and dreams, of course.
CUS: What’s have you always wanted to photograph but have thought was too hard or difficult to execute?
CK: Fun amongst flocks of birds, swarms of butterflies. I just haven't found my winged friends yet, that's all.
CUS: What is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on a photo shoot?
CK: Nothing comes to mind, but my neighbors certainly find me to be a strange individual. I've been found frolicking (read: lurking) through a front yard or two. Awkward.
CUS: What is your favorite time of day to shoot?
CK: First thing in the morning! The world is so beautiful then.
CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true?
CK: I absolutely think so, but it predates the arrival of digital photography, in my opinion. You can be what you want. If snapping photos is the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night, you're a photographer. Even if you're rockin' a prehistoric camera-like device, even if you or others think you're rubbish at it, it's the vision and the emotion behind your captures that count, neither the equipment nor the opinions of any elitists.
There will be people with holier-than-thou attitudes in anything you do, especially in the art world, but you can't pay attention to that. Rest assured that there is no certification process one goes through to earn the title of "photographer". You don't have to complete steps 1-6 in any handbook in order to pin a gold star to your jacket. Just love it.
CUS: If you could live in any time period, which period would you choose? And why?
CK: I never thought I'd say this, but after much consideration, I've come to the conclusion that there's no time like the present. The 60s and 70s seem like they were a swingin' good time, but I'm content in the here and now.
CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?
CK: Keep it real! Go loco!
CUS: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Do you think that photography will still be a big part of your life?
CK: I could be wandering beneath the lights of the largest city or living in a teensy hut in the woods with 76 cats, but I'll always be taking pictures. It's just a joy.
CUS: Our last interviewee Katie Elizabeth, wants to know: Do you have any future work/ideas/news you’d like to share?
CK: Well, I'm really hoping to explore some new things in the near future. I'd love to start working with models and shooting some fashion-inspired, conceptual bits, but we'll see how that goes. In the meantime, the weather is getting warmer; the woods are blooming, so I guess you'll know where to find me!
CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask our next Interviewee?
CK: What is your single most favorite photograph? Show and tell!