Kalliope Amorphous is an artist working with conceptual and experimental self portrait photography. She also is a perfumer and work in mixed media art, but photography is her primary medium. It was a pleasure for us to take an interview with Kalliope Amorphous and we wish you a pleasant reading and viewing of Kalliope Amorphous photography.
AP: Hi Kalliope, thank you for finding the time to tell us more about your conceptual photography. It’s a great honor to see you here. We hope you’ll enjoy answering our questions we’ve prepared for you today. What got you started?
Kalliope: I have always been involved in different art forms, but I stumbled into self portraits because they were convenient (I like to work alone and I am impatient; when I have an idea I want to work on it right away!). I started using myself as a model, because I was having a lot of ideas that I wanted to try and work with right away. I never expected that it would be permanent or that I would be a “self portrait artist”, but I eventually found that it was the best method for me to portray my visual ideas and so I stuck with it. Being the subject and the object of these photos gives me a unique level of creative control.
AP: What a great and interesting approach. Do you have any formal education in photography or were you self-taught?
Kalliope: I don’t have any formal education in the arts at all. I grew up in a family that is full of extremely creative people, so I absorbed a lot through them. Every single person on both sides of my family is or was a visual artist, writer or professional musician. Because of this, I grew up constantly exposed to art and creativity. Throughout my life, I have taught myself and expressed myself through many different creative outlets, including photography.
When I was younger, I used to model for a photographer who is a very well known fashion photographer now. Those early years probably informed a lot of my work, in the sense that I learned a lot about posing and how to interact with the camera.
AP: That’s wonderful that surrounding people and atmosphere helped you to cultivate your talent. Where did you gain skills to take your pictures? How do you get new knowledge in photography
Kalliope: Everything I have learned I have learned through experimentation. I don’t like to call myself a photographer, because it feels more accurate to describe myself as an artist using the camera as a tool. When I first started working with the camera, I knew nothing about the technical aspects of photography and lighting. I had to learn basic things about photography and lighting, of course, but I am not very interested in following any particular rules of photography. I like using the camera intuitively and experimenting with my own style. I’m not interested in focusing only on my technical photography skills, but improving my artistic skills and my eye first and then the rest follows. The camera is secondary to me in a way, because it is just a tool like a paintbrush. You don’t have to go to school to learn how to use an actual paintbrush, but if you experiment with it enough you will learn how to use it to manifest your ideas. This is the way photography is for me.
AP: Kalliope, what genre are your photos?
Kalliope: If I had to pick, I would say conceptual photography with an emphasis on pictorialism and surrealism.
AP: And what genres you tried yourself in. Do you like working in some specific genre? Or do you prefer genre experiments?
Kalliope: There are two moods that I always find myself working in. I get pulled toward surrealism often, because it’s just the way my mind works. I really like distortion deconstruction and the experimental aspects of both. I am also very drawn to romantic, almost Pre-Raphaelite imagery, so my photographs often go back and forth between these two moods, which are quite different from each other. Some of the images are horrifying and some might be described as classically beautiful, because I like to work on the extreme ends of the spectrum.
AP: Thank you for the detailed explanation. How would you describe your pictures?
Kalliope: They are little fairy tales or nightmares in my mind which I try to make visible by turning them into images. I like to invite the viewer into an alternate world. I think all artists would like to think of their work as unique, but ultimately they are only as unique as the viewer believes them to be.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to take your pictures?
Kalliope: I am a big Canon fan. I use 50D and 60D Canons, but I also use older Fuji cameras and Sony cameras if I want intentional low quality or grain. I attach a lot of strange things to my cameras, so I sometimes will use older DSLR cameras in case something goes wrong. I use a lot of fabrics, handmade filters and attachments. I also shoot behind surfaces like glass, papers and translucent fabrics.
AP: Do you have any dream project? What is it?
Kalliope: My dream project would be a fairy tale series in a very complex environment incorporating animals like horses and swans. So far, I have only shot in the studio and have done very few outdoor shots, except for the ones I did in a snowstorm last year. My dream project might be very hard to orchestrate as self portraits, but it probably won’t stop me from trying. If I were any good at Photoshop, I would love to learn how to create realistic looking composites, but since I like to do everything in camera, I would love to do something with elaborate scenery.
AP: You know, it’s never too late to learn something new. We wish your dream to definitely come true! What is the formula for success in your activity?
Kalliope: I have had a lot of success mostly from press coverage of my work, which in turn brought collectors and other interest in my photography. I sometimes will participate in contests or projects that interest me. I am not so great at the marketing aspect of my work. I am the typical artist who just likes to make art but really is a bit lax on the marketing part. I am learning to get better about it, but I have been perpetually at war with the creative process versus the marketing process. This is why I have been self-representing since I first began. Now, I am making it a point to share my work more often. I started a blog recently, which is a nice way to force myself to share and talk about my art and art in general.
AP: Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Kalliope: My fans are my greatest support. I feel fortunate to have such a large amount of people who appreciate what I am doing creatively. I also have some of the best friends a person could hope for and they are the ones who have pushed me to get my work from out of the closet and into the world.
AP: Could you please tell us three lessons you believe are really important for every photographer?
- It’s not about the camera. While a more expensive camera with higher megapixels will give you a higher resolution image, it won’t unlock your creativity for you. I have seen amazing photographs taken with the cheapest cameras imaginable. In our age of constantly updating technology, there will always be a bigger, better camera or lens that you will want. I get sucked into this myself, but it really is not about the camera; It’s about how you use the camera.
- In the case of fine art photography, learn to use the camera as an artist first and a photographer second. Studying the technical aspects of photography to death will not open up your creativity and could even stifle it to a degree. Learn the basics and then make your own rules.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you think a certain setup requires a particular exposure, try the opposite. Shoot slow, long and everything in between. If you wonder what effect spreading glitter over a wine glass attached to your lens might have, don’t just think about it; try it. Every idea is worth experimenting with, no matter how nonsensical it may seem. You might surprise yourself.
Kalliope, thank you very much for giving such detailed pieces of advice to photographers and artists. I am sure they will find them useful.
We thank you very much for sharing such interesting story about your conceptual self portrait photography. We wish you continued success, brilliant ideas and of course great inspiration. To learn more about Kalliope Amorphous photography, please visit her personal page.