I'm thrilled to share this profile of friend and fellow artist Julie Staub, whom I've had the pleasure of knowing for about 25 years since our days in junior high school. I remember Julie for her love of taking photographs, involvement in year book committees and generating cool photo collages, so seeing her develop her craft into the art form it is today is inspiring! I also admire how Julie has taken the energy of living in the bustling urban art world of New York City and used it as nourishment for her roots back in Iowa City. Her photo career is beginning to flourish among the Midwest atmosphere as she challenges herself with projects like Iowa City 365: taking and posting pictures of the city online every day.
I was blessed with the opportunity to hang out with her several times while in Iowa City this summer, tagging along for some photo shoots and talking about her creative process. I look forward to posting a part two on Julie next week with more about the importance of taking photo walks. This week, she answered the following questions:
The following pictures are all courtesy of Julie Staub Photography, except where noted.
1. How do you describe yourself as an artist?I call myself a documentation artist. I feel like my role as a photographer is to record something that is naturally unfolding in front of me. That could be a child at play or a sunset. I am recording that moment with my camera. I don't want to be noticed as a photographer, my subjects usually don't notice me or are able to ignore me. I don't want to disrupt or manipulate the scene. Just document it.
2. How did you first get involved in photography?I have print photos from jr. high. I was the paparazzi of my friends and was always in their face snapping away. But those were more about snapshots. I got serious about black and white film in high school from an artistic angle, took a b&w film class abroad in italy and was more than hooked! Dropped out for a while after school when I didn't have access to darkroom...got back into digital photography with my camera phone in 2005. Once I started to upload to flickr with my digital camera phone, I knew I needed to give the digital world a shot. After I got my first digital point and shoot in 2006, that's when I really started to document EVERYTHING!
3. Who/What are some of your favorite influences/inspirations?
Diane Arbus and Annie Leibovitz stand out in my mind. I've always appreciated Diane's movie stills and Annie just has a way with portraits that stands out from anything else i've seen.
4. How would you describe an ideal or preferred artistic experience for gathering photographs?
I prefer that my camera is always on me and that if I see something that inspires me, I can shoot it. I don't like to create scenes and I don't like trying to set up a shot. Shoots for me when done are all intuitive. I put the people in a scene, say an apple orchard or a brick wall with ivy on it and have them act natural...and light...it's always about light! You shoot WITH the light, not the other way around. Dusk is the best for beautiful light!
5. What is the most important element/condition for your artistic practice?
LIGHT! That is what I am attracted to. That's how I see a photo...is through the use of NATURAL light. All of my shots are based off that. Plus, I love the element of weather. Fog, dew, frost, clouds, snow, etc. all add an exciting element to my shots.
Always carry my camera. My 365 project forces me to do so, but I usually have some sort of recording device on me at all times. My iphone is a great back up!
7. Do you find challenges in your 365 Project?
Yes, but the issues have more to do with my mood than my desire to take pictures. I don't always like to carry my bulky camera with me, but I will have it in my car ready if I'm not holding it. I also am just so tired after my day job that I don't have the energy to "create" a shot. I strive on variety and interesting shots. I'm not going to take a picture just to take a picture for the day...I'm hard on myself as an artist to make my shot something I personally LOVE and if i'm not in the mood to be creative...that's a struggle. I also struggle with the fact that I like to "capture" my images rather than "create" them. Meaning, if I am not inspired by the light, I am not inspired to shoot. This gets tricky when I haven't done my shot and it's now dark out. It makes my shot for the day that much harder, but that's when I go and search for the "light" - whatever is available to me!
8. What’s next for you? What do you want in the future?
I am a creative octopus, I have my arms in so many directions and I can't execute my ideas fast enough! Right now, my focus is on generating some buzz around my 365 images. I am in talks with the Englert about doing a show before the holidays in their gallery space and also creating some cards, calendars and small prints available there and other local venues to sell for the holidays. I want to market to UI alumni and others who are nostalgic for IC. I will also make a book and sell it once the project is complete next summer. It has always been my idea to donate some of those profits to local charities and arts organizations like the Englert (Theater in Iowa City). I also want to play the technology game and develop an app using my images, perhaps a daily calendar with positive affirmations.
Oh! and a childrens book using my images as well! In the future, I would like my own studio space to house my art pieces and do product shoots. I think the penthouse of the Vetro would work just nicely! I also want to move my photoshoots into a program that lets me put the still images all together like a short movie and when played quickly, you get a sense of the story that is being told by the images. I do that now, but I want to get better at using the program. I set the images to music and burn to DVD and then you can watch it on your TV. I'd would also like to do more commercial work and be paid to travel various places for a shoot. That has always been a dream of mine!!
Based on the great body of work and dedication, those dreams are likely to soon become reality!
Check out more of Julie's documentation art at: