Concepts of Emotions with Kellie North
Kellie North is a highly regarded conceptual photographer and visual artist from Queensland, Australia. Picking up her first SLR camera in 2001, she fell in love with photography in all of its forms and knew she had found her passion. Earning her stripes on film, Kellie graduated with formal qualifications from The Photographic Institute of Australia in 2014 where she found the direction she wanted to take with her photography. She was personally starting to find her voice not just as a photographer but as an artist. Today Kellie merges traditional photographic techniques with digital art to produce painterly images often described as highly emotive, whimsical and evocative.
Since the days of film, Kellie has loved the entire process of making an image come to life. There is nowhere Kellie feels more at home than out in nature with her camera pack on and tripod in hand. Capturing feminine figures, draped in billowing fabric either in water or juxtaposed against the ruggedness of the natural environment she brings to life a story, or as it has been said, ‘visual poetry’. The whole intent with Kellie’s photographic art is storytelling. Rather than reading words, she invites the viewer to evoke their imagination and or past experiences and connect with a story in that way.
How did you get started / Explain your process? ~ After my schooling I spent many years abroad studying, working, travelling, and taking photos. When it was time to return home I decided to lay my hat in a spectacular part of the southern Gold Coast, and this is where I still reside today.
During my studies I was exposed to inspiring photographers and genres that opened my eyes to the artistic side of photography and how an image could become a piece of art and not just a captured moment. This is where I would say I started to develop my voice and style as a photo artist. I continued to learn and hone the techniques I needed for my craft in Diploma Courses, professional workshops or online tutorials. I perfected my technical skills and really strengthened my knowledge of Lightroom and Photoshop.
My process when shooting an image always starts with an idea, and then transfer that idea onto paper where I draw my image, or at least try to. I gather together thoughts, colours, costumes, theme, story and or message I wish to convey and go from there. I usually have a location in mind from the scouting I have done around my local area or places I have visited. Usually the locations I choose are natural and wild and like national parks, beaches and rock pools.
The costumes I source are mostly from local charity shops, craft and vintage shops. I particularly love period dresses and large pieces of fabric that can be fashioned into billowing dresses when needed.
My Shooting process:
Gather what is needed for the shoot, things like: camera, lenses, tripod, remote, costume, props and gumboots (just in case there is mud or long grass!) I like to shoot at a time before the sun has come up or just when the sun has set just behind the mountains. It is a lovely flat magic light with no shadows and enough exposure so as I don’t have to bump up my ISO too much.
Most of my images are self portraits, I do this not because I like being in front of the camera but because of the ease of it. I only have to direct myself and it is easy on the budget! I pack up my car and set off to the location. There I set up my tripod, put on my costume, grab the remote in my hand and set about my pose, usually jumping into the air or twisting myself into some sort of distorted posture. I try to take only the shots I think I need, checking the exposure, settings and focus points at times just to make sure I’m getting the best out of every shot.
Returning home, I set about uploading the images into Lightroom. I usually can’t wait to see them on a larger screen; I get so excited for what I am going to create. I look for images that have the most movement, natural colour and texture from the background together with the sharpest quality. When I have chosen the images I wish to use, I open them all up in Photoshop and set about building the image. On the shoot I may have taken numerous shots of a moving piece of fabric or an eagle in flight. I need to make sure these images are good and easy to composite into my final image.
What do you hope viewers of your artwork will feel/walk away with? ~ I have always loved listening to people’s stories and in turn have loved the reciprocity of telling my own. Photography is a powerful medium and a wonderful way in which you can tell a story. Like any artist I wish for people to really connect with my work, for them to view an image, ask questions of the image itself, or of themselves.
I wish for my work to evoke emotion, wonder and or, a memory or vision of the past, present or future. My images have sometimes been described as ‘Visual Poetry’… rather than reading words, they invite the viewer to employ their imagination and connect with a story visually.
What's your biggest driving asset towards what you do? ~ My love and absolute obsession with photography and digital art! I won’t lie, I sometimes can not sleep at night for the thoughts of a new image, how I am going to build an image or where I would like to travel to take photos for images I wish to make. A day does not go by where I am not shooting or editing a photo, I am always working on something. Not all of them make the cut, but each one is teaching me something new.
I love photography and the digital realm, it’s always changing and improving which allows me to continue to challenge myself and grow as an artist.
If you could give readers one piece of advice, what would it be? ~ Don’t box yourself in as an artist. I learned a very important lesson after visiting Gerhard Richter’s exhibition in 2018.
Gerhard Richter has produced abstract art, tapestries, photorealistic paintings, traditional photographs and glass pieces. The lesson I took away from that exhibition was, ‘Leave no stone Unturned’ when it comes to art, try something new, give it a go and surprise yourself. You don’t have to do just one thing. Try different techniques, different mediums and cross pollenate, you might just produce some amazing pieces.
Where would you like to see yourself in the future? ~ In the future I want to still be creating and producing imagery and art, I can not see myself stopping. My art is like eating breakfast, I need to have it in order to function and get through my day.
In terms of future projects….
I would love to collaborate with other artists more on different and interesting projects.
I would love to create an all immersive show including imagery, audio and video in which I would exhibit and perhaps travel with. And I would love to have a few pieces shown in an international show.
But most importantly just keep doing what I am doing.