Showcase: Lisa Kimberly
Lisa Kimberly is a self-taught fine art and portrait photographer. Lisa is currently living in southern Spain, but she is in the process of relocating to San Diego, California, where she hopes to further her photographic pursuits.
Which aspects of your pictures make them stand out as yours, what is your signature?
How do you approach someone for a photograph? How do you set up your work? Do you always ask?
I have only recently begun approaching complete strangers for a photograph, and more often than not, it is quite rewarding. Simple and honest is best — I introduce myself, ask if I can take his or her picture, and if they comply, I shoot and make sure to thank them. If they ask what the picture is for, I am more than happy to explain.
Tell us a story about one of the people you have photographed that made you want to take their picture.
I was on the streets of Camden Town in London, looking for interesting-looking people to shoot for my montage portrait series, when I saw a great-looking guy that I instantly wanted to photograph. He looked very 80’s-rock-and-roll; big blond hair, black leather jacket, and guitar case slung over his shoulder. Before I could approach him, he and his friends walked into a gift store, so I hung around outside the shop to wait for him. During the five minutes that I waited, I even managed to get a portrait of one of the store employees who was outside on a cigarette break. He finally came out of the store, and I walked up and introduced myself. He seemed a little perplexed, but happy to pose. And so I got my shot.
Why did you choose to shoot selfportraits? When did you start?
When I moved to Spain three years ago, I decided to start 365 day photo project, and this is when my self-portraiture started to emerge. I used it as a way not to necessarily document my life or likeness, but to conceptualize an idea. Being my own model allowed me the freedom to shoot whenever and wherever I pleased, and I liked the idea that I would be 100% part of the process, from conception to post-processing. Recently, I’ve become more interested in shooting models and other subjects to create an image, but I still fully enjoy shooting self-portraits; I am in the middle of another year-long photo project in which I shoot one self-portrait a week.
Tell us a story about one of your pictures? What is your favourite shot and why?
My image, “alien” [above] is a recent favorite of mine, because to me, it was born out of a pure emotive experience. I was in London for a photography workshop, and it was my last night at the hotel. The friend I was traveling with went out to meet someone for dinner, and I was content to stay behind at the hotel and just read and have some quiet time to myself. I started thinking about how traveling to foreign places can be such a blessing and a curse at the same time, at least for me anyway. As much as I love to see new places and try new food and converse with people who may not know my language, I still am always aware of feeling like an alien in a foreign land, trying to assimilate, putting on a happy face to blend in, but deep down feeling that I don’t belong here; that I should be home. At that moment I felt a huge sense of homesickness and being alone. I looked around my hotel room and realized I wanted, I needed, to capture this feeling in a photograph. I felt the bathroom would be the best place, particularly in the shower with the water turned on and my back facing the lens (it is oftentimes in the shower that I do my most brooding and thinking). With my body language, I tried to convey feeling desolate and defeated. It is one of my images that needed little post-processing to further convey the message, because the raw image already had so much pure emotion in it.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face to get a great picture?
I’d have to say learning and experimenting with new ways to use my strobe/flash setup is still a big challenge for me. I’ve definitely come a long way since I’ve started using it, and I’ve managed to utilize it pretty well up to now, but I still know there is lots to learn.
What`s the message of your photos, what do you want to communicate or accomplish through your work?
Not every photo of mine has a particular message; some are born out of spontaneity or random experimentation. But with my more personal work, particularly my self-portrait work, I hope that I can evoke in the viewer a memory or a question that lets them linger on the image. I hope the viewer can see a bit of him or herself in the photo, whether that photo is happy or melancholy. But I also hope the viewer can interpret the image as they wish; to me, that is the beauty of photography.
Are you currently working at any particular project?
I am in the middle of a 52 weeks photo project, in which I take one self-portrait a week. As with my previous 365 project, it’s not meant to be purely autobiographical, but more conceptual.
What`s the question you wish I had asked? …and what is the answer?
Q: If you could photograph the cast of any TV show, what would it be?
A: the cast of Mad Men! It is my absolute favorite show! I’m constantly inspired by the styling and the lighting they use.
(Images © Lisa Kimberly – More of her work here)