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Interview with Katherine Robbins | GBPW Episode 114

4 min read

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Katherine Robbins.

Living in Japan was a huge boost in my inspiration. When I first got there, just being around the culture and everything that I wasn’t familiar with jump-started my inspiration. For most foreigners, they feel a similar way, even if they’re not creative. You’re living in a new place. Everything is new and exciting.

Katherine Robbins

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In this episode, I speak with novelist and photographer Katherine Robbins! Katherine is an incredibly talented photographer who specializes in concert, portrait, and self-portrait photography.

I’ve been following Katherine’s work for quite some time, so I was very happy that I had the chance to speak with her! She’s traveled quite a lot and has spent many years in countries like China and Japan. Thanks to her networking skills, she has built a strong portfolio and met a wide variety of interesting people.

We talk about:

  • How her passion for photography and writing are connected
  • Tips for networking as a photographer
  • Self-portrait photography techniques

& much more!

I really enjoyed speaking with Katherine and learning about her journey in the world of concert photography and portrait photography. If you’re interested in either of these genres, you’ll enjoy listening to our conversation!

Here is a preview of our discussion with Katherine Robbins.

Q: What are the similarities between writing a novel and taking a photograph?

Katherine Robbins: Writing and taking a photograph, sometimes I picture scenes as photos that I want to take. Sometimes I’ll actually be inspired to write from pictures or pictures that I imagine. My second book, the inspiration for it literally was a photo that I just had in my mind, an idea I wanted to do someday. From then on, the ideas just started flowing and I started my book.

Even in different mediums or different art styles, the inspiration to me feels the same. Inspiration for coming up with a photo idea and inspiration for writing, it’s the same type of rush that I get in my brain. That kind of happiness when you can’t stop and you need to write it down or it’s going to be gone forever.

Q: Do you have any tips for people who are living in a foreign country who want to make connections and find job opportunities?

Katherine Robbins: In my experience, at least, the biggest thing that helped me was networking. I got all my gigs by networking and talking with people. When I was on my own, I found it a bit daunting to network, especially in a different language.

If you’re in a different country and the people don’t speak a language that you do, if you can speak a little bit, it can go a long way. I would just talk to people and network. I’m sure it’s important in a lot of countries, but business cards as well. I made a lot of business cards after the first few lives. I would hand out business cards to everybody that I met. It could have been the president of record company or it could have been hair and makeup people because they also work in that type of industry.

Q: Do you have any tips for people who want to take better self-portraits?

Katherine Robbins: Keep trying. I know it sounds simple, but I would say experiment with your ideas, even the ones that seem silly. I always tend to trust my gut because again, I feel like everybody has their own unique artistic outlook. Even if your session doesn’t go as you planned, I feel like you still gain some experience and get an idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.

For me, practice sessions keep me sharp on Photoshop or Lightroom. I’ve had a long hiatus and sometimes I can’t remember how to do something that I used to do. Practice sessions are also good. Depending on what your idea is, you might even learn a new trick in Photoshop for an idea that you have.

Especially in the beginning, if you were poor like me and had almost no money to buy lights or anything, I would say that reflectors are a good tool for people who are tight on a budget, especially if they shoot indoors. It amplifies the light you work with. That really helped me a lot when I was doing self-portraits.


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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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