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Kaat Stieber
Kaat Stieber

April 16 : 2024

Kaat Stieber

This exceptionally-crafted conceptual series shines a light on issues with a subtle tenacity.

by Lily Fierman

Series: Feathered Fables

Q:

Tell us more about the making of your winning series, “Feathered Fables.”

A:

I like to use birds and feathers to convey what's on my mind. When I use these beautiful birds, the message doesn't come across as harsh. It's not my intention to be preachy. I prefer a softer approach with a touch of humor. That way, I can express what's on my mind without overwhelming others. The birds reflect our habits, which can sometimes seem entrenched and quite peculiar. In reality, we humans are the true odd birds.

Q:

Can you explain the concept behind one of the images in detail?

A:

My Kingfisher is sitting on the edge of a sardine can. This story is primarily for the viewer to interpret as they wish. Are they taking the fish out of the ocean, or returning it? Just like our current situation in the world, it can go either way. It symbolizes my concern about how we treat our waters and food. As humans, we are often disconnected from our nature.

I'm fascinated by the old masters and how they could make every subject exciting through their use of light.

Q:

Where do you find inspiration? Feel free to talk about specific photographers or something else.

A:

I enjoy reading (old) books with illustrations. Fairy tales and fables inspire me because they address familiar themes through storytelling. They have a timeless quality that resonates with me deeply. I also visit at least one museum each month. I get inspired by beauty when it surrounds me.

I'm fascinated by human behavior and customs and how, as a society, we collectively consider the most peculiar traits as normal. So, I find myself daily amazed by our choices as humans. Sometimes, I struggle to understand them and can't always align myself with the crowd.

Q:

What is your dream subject?

A:

I'm interested in the theme of being together, working together, and solving things together.

I have several subjects I enjoy depicting, all of which revolve around themes that preoccupy me. Creating images is healing on multiple levels. It allows for better insight, the ability to let go, and sometimes, it's even transformative. Depending on what's occupying my thoughts at the moment, my theme adjusts accordingly to reflect the phase of my life.

Q:

What are you working on now?

A:

I've started sketching out for an entirely new series. The first set of photos will be taken soon. Since my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I've found ourselves in a new world. There's a longing to understand what's going on in her mind. Keeping memories alive and preserving joy with her is crucial. We're certainly not alone; in fact, it's a significant part of our culture. I want to translate this situation into a long-term project that hopefully brings warmth to all fellow sufferers and offers insight into a confused mind. Ultimately, I aim to turn it into a book, aspiring for it to be museum-worthy. I believe it can be a valuable addition.

Q:

Your work pays homage to your home country of the Netherlands. Beyond your residence, what attracts you to making this style of work?

A:

In my teenage years, I left my country because it didn't appeal to me at the time. Later in life, I returned and discovered that my country and my roots were something to be proud of. It may sometimes seem like an excuse for my previous opinion, but I genuinely find my cultural heritage beautiful, for example. I hardly look at photos myself. I'm fascinated by the old masters, and how they could make every subject exciting through their use of light. This is what I like to use for my images, the same use of light. Even when I create a minimalist image, I still prefer to use the light of the old masters.

Q:

Walk us through what a day in your studio looks like.

A:

In the morning, I first finish my obligations. When I start, I don't want to have a to-do list anymore. I either photograph or edit on a day. I like to divide my days into one activity that I complete with full focus. This allows me not to rush; I've become very patient. For an image from this series, I typically spend one day creating a set, such as gathering props or painting the backdrops. Then, I spend 1 to 2 days photographing to collect all the elements needed for the image in my mind. First, I photograph the main character, with most birds being captured with my camera lens in the wild. Then, I photograph the setting in comparable lighting in my photo studio. Editing can take 1 to several days, which is my favorite part. I edit on a large drawing tablet and prefer to immerse myself with classical music. Every morning, I review the image again. The morning I think it's finished when I see it, then it's truly done. I see with fresh eyes if there's anything that needs adjusting or could be improved

ARTIST

Kaat Stieber

Kaat Stieber

Location:

Netherlands

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Jun 26th - Jul 23rd

The Black & White Photo Contest by reFocus Awards welcomes both individual image and series submissions that honor and explore black and white photography.

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