37 year-old American photographer Shae DeTar explains how she started painting with bright colors over her fascinating photographs of young women, and how her work is influenced by the master painters of the 19th century.
Hello Shae, thank you for this quick Q&A. What are your main interests as a photographer?
I’m always trying to create something colorful that will hold your gaze for a moment.
When and how did you start painting on your photographs?
I started painting on photos as a young teenager, but back then I would paint and collage over magazine photos. I did this up into my twenties – it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I began taking my own photos and painting and collaging onto them. The very first print I made from my photographs, I instantly started painting on it. It was just the most natural thing.
Can you talk a bit about your typical process to create one of your images?
I begin with taking pictures: I shoot out on location, then go home, edit through them and finally print those that I feel compelled to work on. I spend time painting them, and sometimes I incorporate collage too. For example, this year I did jobs for New York Magazine and The New Yorker – both of them hired me to photograph female musicians and then paint and collage the images for print.
I love taking my images and transform them into something new by using my hands, paint, glue and scissors.
Why did you choose to put young, nude women at the center of your personal works?
I started out photographing people I knew, friends or friends of friends I would take day trips with to the mountains. Then, somewhere along the way I started getting emails from women saying they’d like to be in my photos, so I photographed them. Now I hold castings on Instagram and I tell women I’d love to photograph anyone: old, young, any ethnicity, any body type, etc.
I’m not looking to photograph perfect-looking women, or only young women. I’d like to work with older and plus-size women too, but they rarely contact me. I want my subjects to be more diverse, and it’s starting to move that way: my casting calls are reaching more people, and that helps. I have so much work I want to make… who knows what I’ll be photographing in the next 5 years! I like to stay pretty open to adventure and the unknown.
Your work is very imaginative – what have been the main influences on your photography?
Painters from the 19th century and a few modern artists. I’m so moved by the paintings and drawings of Van Gogh, Schiele, Matisse, Vuilliard, Klimt, Picasso, Dali, Cezanne, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec; and modern artists like Cecily Brown, Rachel Feinstein and John Currin. I rarely feel inspired by photographs, although there are so many artist-photographers that I think are magic.
Color is especially important in your photographs. How do you choose the palettes you use for each work, and do they have specific meanings?
No, they don’t have any particular meaning. I choose them solely on my mood of the moment and what I think is best for the picture I’m working on. I rely on my instinct.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary photographers?
I love Synchrodogs, I think they are pretty amazing and unique. SagaSig, this Icelandic photographer living in London – she’s awesome. Tim Walker is a total genius. And I love Juergen Teller’s work: it’s so fun and offbeat.
Choose your #threewordsforphotography.
Color. Surrealism. Imperfect.