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Katherine Bennett

Finalist interviews

The lady in the centre of this photograph is my partner's Granny. So we are almost directly related, and here, as with all photographic work. I am in a state of exchange though I think only directly, with one of the women!

Granny's 90th, 2012 by Katherine Bennett
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Granny's 90th, 2012 by Katherine Bennett

How do you define your practice?
Photographer

Do you have a website or are you represented on a website?
My website for personal and commissioned work is embellysh.com.au

How would you describe your relationship to the subject/s?
The lady in the centre of this photograph is my partner's Granny. So we are almost directly related, and here, as with all photographic work. I am in a state of exchange though I think only directly, with one of the women!

Was the photograph a result of a constructed, fabricated or candid encounter? Please describe.
This photograph is very much a candid moment whilst preparing for a constructed photograph.

What are the ideas or themes underpinning your portrait?
Different personalities caught in a shared moment. The ladies are in preparation for their photograph and you can see their different personalities as they each briefly prepare from humour, to gossip, to anxiety and with the one woman staring straight at the camera, just plain openness! It did also make me wonder, which of these women I might be like at that age and how I might be passing the time at that age.

Please describe the technical aspects of your photograph?
The photo was taken using a Canon 5d Mark II and using an on-camera speed light, bouncing off the ceiling. The basic RAW file processing was done in Adobe Lightroom, and finishing touches made in Photoshop. How was the final print made? Is this print one of an edition? I guess this print is now part of an edition. I trialled different photographic papers till I settled on this one! I chose a slightly textured paper. I loved the way this brought out the detail in the photograph, and gave a slightly delicate feel to the overall image, which I thought went well with the subjects.

Describe your consideration of scale, mounting and framing in the presentation of your portrait?
The considerations were very much equal parts around framing, scale and printing. I am fortunate enough to know a great local framer, who was very considerate and helpful with her expertise in framing. I am not a professional framer, and really wanted this to be in the hands of someone who knows their stuff! I did give my opinion too, and we went with a warm mount board and a gallery style frame to keep the focus on the image, and emphasise the warmth in the image. The scale of the image is where the trials came in through studying the impact of size on the detail in the image.

Who would you nominate as your influences?
Possibly the biggest influence in my work, is my late uncle, a photographer and incredible people person! When photographing people, our images have been quite different, but I have learnt that it is the overall approach when photographing someone that gives personalities of subjects' room to shine. This image is a great example of this, as it is not one he might have taken (or kept) however the communication between the subjects and myself in the lead up to taking this portrait may have been similar in our approach. Helping people to be at ease in front of a camera is a skill in itself, one that I believe comes through other life learning. So there are many influences on my work around me, including people who are not photographers.

Do you have any advice for young photographers (eg. students)?
Get to know your photography gear inside out, whatever it is that you have, use it the best you can! Try to be open to new styles and subject matter when possible, as you'll learn something from it. Try to find exactly what it is that you like about photographs that appeal to you. Finally, keep growing your interests in life, as this is what will guide your style and give you the greatest pleasure out of your photography.