Feature, interviewMerek Davis

KATIE SMITH FEATURE

Feature, interviewMerek Davis
KATIE SMITH FEATURE
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Discovering the work of Katie Smith (@kateessmith) is something we continue to be extremely excited about. Katie does a wonderful job capturing the English countryside in both its vastness and and its delicate and miniature beauty. She has experimented with Mextures in an impressive manner - pushing colors and pulling light. You will love her photography and you will love learning more about her as a person as well in the latest feature interview. Enjoy! profile

Hi! I'm Katie. I'm 33 and I'm a single parent. My little girls are Noa who is six and Inka who'll be four at Christmas. They're funny and brilliant and creative and sweet and difficult and exhausting. They've been through so much in their lives already and I'm so proud them.

I was born in New York but moved to rural Hampshire in England when I was a baby. That's where my mum lives and it's where I take most of my photos. My dad still lives in the USA - in Florida where he's retired. He's from Jamaica and Florida is about as close as he could get without actually moving back!

I moved to London when I was 21 to be around creative people. I worked for a few fashion designers, making stuff and doing pre-collection research. And I worked at Whole Foods market too. After a few years I did my Art foundation and then started a Textile design BA at Central Saint Martins. I dropped out to have my second daughter about halfway through. I always wanted to go back and finish it but I don't think I ever will now. Full time design courses are not very comparable with single parenthood. I loved it, especially the Dye room, but my passion is and always was photography. I just didn't realise at the time.

Apart from looking after my kids, I look after lovely twins from Noa's school and work at a place called The Hairforce Lice assassins. It's a weird job but I like it. It's quite satisfying killing parasites and also I can daydream while I do it. I've worked there ever since I was a student and I love my colleagues and boss. We're all a bit on the less normal side of the human spectrum.

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I go down to Hampshire to see my mum and old friends at least once a month. I love walking in the hills and forests of the South Downs National Park. Or going to smell the sea. It's such a beautiful place. I'm so lucky to be able to visit often and to show my kids a different world than London. I've been thinking a lot lately about moving back to Hampshire but I'm a bit torn really. I love the culture here in London, the galleries and museums, the architecture, the music, the food, my friends and it's been my life for almost 13 years. I would miss it.

Oh yes, food! I love cooking for friends and eating with them. Lots of Asian food and classic European stuff too. I dreamed about having my own food truck or ice cream van, but it's another one that's not really very compatible with having little kids. There's lots of time to do stuff when they're bigger - Inka starts school next September which is bittersweet.

So at the moment my main creative outlet is photography and editing. What I missed most about art school was being part of a creative community and I feel like I'm part of something again through Instagram. It's been so good for me.

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HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME ATTRACTED TO PHOTOGRAPHY?

I remember my mum had a Polaroid camera in the 80s. I must have been about six. And she let me have a couple of goes. It was about the most thrilling thing I'd ever experienced. It was magic. My mum would buy me a disposable camera during the school holidays and I'd go off taking pictures for a few hours. But it was when I was backpacking when I was 20 that I realised how much I loved it. I took so many photos that I had to keep posting back the films as they were too heavy in my backpack.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE INSPIRES YOU TO CONTINUE TAKING PICTURES AND TO CONTINUE GROWING IN THAT PROCESS?

It's just being in nature and hoping for some interesting weather. I love running around trying to get the light before it changes or the mist before it moves. Photo chasing is my entire exercise regime. I'm always trying to get better pictures than the last time. I suppose it is important to me to feel like I'm improving and if I'm not trying new things then I start to not feel inspired anymore.

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WHAT DOES YOUR EDITING PROCESS USUALLY LOOK LIKE?

I edit most of my photos on the way to work on the tube in the morning. Always listening to music, I'm in my own little world for eight stops of editing bliss.

I start with the basic corrections if the photo needs it and then move on to the fun bit. I don't usually have a particular thing in mind when I'm editing - I like to experiment - but I do like to accentuate the light or if there isn't any I'll fake some. My favourites are Light Leaks, Anomaly, Radiance, Landscape Enhance and sometimes a bit of Grit and Grain if I'm in a grainy mood. Quite often I'll end up with four or five edits of the same picture that all feel very different. There's endless possibilities with Mextures, best £1.49 I ever spent!

Sometimes I use VSCO and Lens Distortions, but always Mextures. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little bit, but it's always there. Some of my pictures ask for something extra so I might add a moon or something easy but I'm not really very good at graphics so I like to collaborate with people who are.

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CARE TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR FORMULAS WITH THE MEXTURES CROWD?

I make way, way too many and a lot of them only work on one picture but these ones are quite okay really.

BSUWWWF - This is a newish one. It adds warmth and intense light leaks. I've used it on foggy sunrises and in the forest.

IXYBTYM - This one will fake a stormy sky.

UTYERGV - This is a gritty sunset kind of thing.

DDHPAVN - More traditional sunset kind of thing. Good if you have a greenish foreground.

BEGGIHY - Yes it makes it more blue yes.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO THAT YOU’VE TAKEN?

This was such a hard question to answer and this is really just one of a few favourites I have, but I've chosen this one. It was the most beautiful foggy and then misty sunrise I have ever witnessed. The type that makes you feel vital and connected to nature. I swear half of the photos I post on Instagram are from this late summer morning. I loved editing it too and had a lot of fun with the Anomaly pack if I remember rightly!

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DO YOU FEEL LIKE MEXTURES OFFERS ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR EDITING PROCESS?

Definitely. I feel like Mextures is more than just an editing app. It's really an experimental artistic app. You can really let your imagination run wild. I'm not really a subtle kind of person, although I do admire it greatly in others, but I feel like with Mextures I can get a "not quite real but not total fantasy" type feeling in my photos.

I have phases of preferring one feature in the app and at the moment I really like the Anomaly overlays. I keep finding new things though. For example, I only just started using the blending modes. What I love the most about Mextures though is the community element. I think all my favourite people on Instagram use or did at some point use Mextures.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO THAT YOU’VE TAKEN?

This was such a hard question to answer and this is really just one of a few favourites I have, but I've chosen this one. It was the most beautiful foggy and then misty sunrise I have ever witnessed. The type that makes you feel vital and connected to nature. I swear half of the photos I post on Instagram are from this late summer morning. I loved editing it too and had a lot of fun with the Anomaly pack if I remember rightly!

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WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY AND CREATIVE PROCESS?

There is the amazing account of Ujjwal (@ujjwalflora) whose shots of the Himalayas are just breathtaking, I also love Jeff's (@jeffreyryanjohnson) gorgeous mountains too with really beautiful edits. I do like other things too though!

Anapaula (@anapaula_c) is so very lovely and her photos are too. She has such gorgeous edits and beautiful details. Leah (@leahminium) just astounds me! Ben's account (@figment_hf) is heaven. Rob (@bobbimac) is a genius as are M (@blue.ridinghood) and Ana (@ana.mar) and Manuel (@sejjko).

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Some people who I've found in the last few months whose work is amazing are Mehran (@theeraserr), Mirjana (@mirjanagrasser), and Dan (@danscape).

I think it was Tony (@tonydetroit) who inspired me to first start using Mextures ages ago!

There are so many others who inspire me too. Pretty much everyone I follow on Instagram does. I'm amazed at how brilliant everybody is.

Off of Instagram there's an amazing (fashion) photographer named Tim walker whose epic fantasy photos are very inspiring and also my friend Jennifer Pattison takes really gorgeous portraits.

Take a look at more of Katie’s beautiful work here!