A chat with... Beth Harris (@bethharris)
At SLAE Magazine, we love all types of art and want to share with you the work of artists that we find beautiful and inspiring. We’ve had a little chat with Beth Harris, a Sydney based photographer whose work is very inspiring to us. We’ve asked her a few questions regarding her work, her relationship to photography and herself.
When did you start photography ?
My parents got their first digital video camera in summer of 2003. I was attracted to the instant gratification of eternalising my thoughts on this one megapixel handycam. The majority of short films I created at age 8 surrounded my parents’ wardrobe choices and extended commentary of our summer holidays. By age 14, with the savings from my part-time job at the cinema, I bought my first DSLR. I spent the next few years directing photoshoots with friends and siblings inspired by Nigel Barker on ANTM, and photographing every party, sporting event, birthday, gathering I could.
Were you formally educated in photography, or are you self-taught?
Self-taught. It is a passion and hobby that has consumed many hours. It’s a constant loop of study, practice, trial and error. I also studied film and television production at university, which I continue to pursue alongside photography.
What camera/lense do you shoot with (mostly) ?
I have a mini collection of cameras, mostly film, that I alternate between depending on my mood and artistic pursuit. My go-to camera for personal photos, however, is my Yashica T AF with a Carl Zeiss lens. It’s a light-weight 35mm camera that effortlessly produces crisp images so it’s ideal for travelling and outings. When working I’m more likely to be using my Canon 5D mark ii DSLR or Canon 7s Rangefinder. Although I’m a strong believer that lighting and creative direction really make a photo, not the camera.
What are your influences/ inspiration sources/favorite photographers ?
My influences are often shifting, especially through the endless stream of inspiration that is Instagram. Currently I’m admiring photography coming out of Russia for its use of light and shade, particularly works from Nikolay Paustovskiy (@merde_il_pleut), Christina Abdeeva and Vitalik D. (@tribal.cat). I also love the colour and contrast used by LA artists such as Kelia Anne MacCluskey and Neil Kryszak. Even more so I am inspired by the earnest portrayals and emotions coming out of Australian photography by the likes of Isabella Kerstens and Jess James. It’s a lot of inspiration!
How would you define your style ?
I would describe my style as developing. I don’t believe I’ve found my artistic identity yet which is definitely something that plays on my mind at times, but also something that I enjoy. I’m not tied down by a particular style or creative direction, and am always open to experimenting with whatever new creative flow has caught my attention.
What according to you, makes a good photo ?
A good photo is all about story and emotion. Whether it’s an editorial, photo journalism or portrait, you have to have power behind the image that drives it into the mind of your audience. You want people to be thinking about it long after they’ve viewed it.
Which photo are you currently most proud of ?
As with any creative practice my own pride and admiration in my photos ebbs and flows but I am particularly fond of an image of Honor Munro which I call an Ode to Pris. This work represents my love for film and cinematography but also a moment in which I pushed my boundaries and in turn developed a new self-confidence in my work. Working with Honor was a dream; she has an incredible creative aura which shines through the photo series.
‘A good photo is all about story and emotion.’
‘My influences are often shifting, especially through the endless database of inspiration that is Instagram.’
What does photography mean to you? What is it all about in your opinion?
Photography is about eternalising a moment, an idea, a creative thought, an emotion. It’s about telling a story, or expressing an identity. I think photography is so mouldable and flexible which is what makes it such an incredible art form. For me photography is my creative outlet; it provides a sphere in which I am able to challenge myself and feel proud of the results.
‘Photography is about eternising a moment, an idea, a creative thought, an emotion. It’s about telling a story, or expressing an identity.’