Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Meet photographer Carla Christina Contreras

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The featured artist for January 2010 was photographer Carla Christina Contreras. Carla captures pictures of cattle, horses and other farm animals on her journeys through Tennessee, her home of recent years. She also has experience as an actress, web designer and children's book author.

Why do you take pictures?

Expression – pure creative expression – I like to capture something in a way that the average person didn’t even notice. Everything about my world is “visual” – when it comes to recalling what I’ve seen, there is no better way then to photograph it. I want to share it with every body, I want you to see what you may have missed. I want to see things close up and personal – my style of photography is going in to the detail and capturing the detail that the naked eye cannot see. When I am inspired by something I see I take a picture of it. I LOVE the instant gratification that photography allows me – especially now with the digital age.

How did you get started?

I can’t remember not having a camera in my hands… Being a professional Actor, I believe most of my background comes from the perspective of cinematography. I have spent many days/hours/weeks on film and television sets while growing up in Hollywood, watching the production crew work at their individual craft. I was eleven years old when I was on the Walton’s; I remember taking pictures on the set of this and that… always intrigued by all the detail a production goes into for realism. I have had a camera in my hot little hands [with thought clarity] since I about 1971.

How do you decide what to photograph?

Colors are like candy to me! Anything that catch’s my attention – something usually very colorful – I photographed a group of gumball machines recently – the color was magnificent!

What is your technique?

I started shooting digitally in the mid 90’s, a simple 3x zoom camera. I purchased my first digital SLR in 2002. My digital photographers “darkroom” consists of about $20,000 in computer equipment and software. I spend hours reviewing, processing, and organizing my digital negatives; digital photography is VERY time consuming.

Where did you learn your technique?

I truly believe my background in film and television has much to do with my technique. Cinematography was introduced to me at an early age by my father (a film and television Key Grip), I would go to the set with him early in my childhood to watch and meet the actors on the set, and get to observe them doing their jobs. But it wasn’t just the actors that interested me – I loved watching the gaffer adjust light, the director working with the actors, the script girl keeping up with continuity, etc. etc. etc. Details became my thing – and again, I’m sure that influenced my style.

How long does it take you to get the average photograph?

Click – done. Are you talking about the total process of picking something that I will want to actually reprint? Then I would say it could take several hours. I recently was taking photographs of a piece of my photography art… it took me three hours to get four pictures I liked.

Do you ever have goof-ups or work you don't like?

All the time! I have more goof ups now more than ever because I’m not afraid to make a mistake – I have discovered that making mistakes also helps me to explore, to learn more about myself and my equipment.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from being present… from paying attention to what’s happening moment to moment. I could be on my way to getting new tires (true story) and be moved by something I see on the way to my appointment – have to pull the car over to capture the inspiration. I have many award winners because I take this time to honor my photographic passion and insight.

What else do you do besides your art?

I am a working professional [tv and film] actor, an author of a children’s book titled, “Clint the Black Cat”. I am a muralist, and a canvas painter. I live to be creative every day – and pretty much am…

What would you like to do more of in the future?

I would like to see my work in LARGE format prints – nothing less than a 30”x40” metallic C print – my favorite type of print. One of my goals is to have a prestigious exhibit in NYC someday – with lots of sales (of course).

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

Take a beginning photography class in school – after that – decide what kind of camera and lenses you desire. Photography the MOST expensive artistic medium – go slowly when buying equipment – ask many questions. Intern with a professional if possible – the education will be invaluable.

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