Resource Magazine‘s Photographer of the Day contest on our Facebook (#POTD) is a daily competition that seeks to give rising photographers the attention and support they deserve. The winner with the most Likes receives an exclusive Resource Mag Online interview, a ViewBug.com premium membership, an awesome Lowepro Urban Reporter 250 bag, a Joby Pro Sling Strap and UltraFit Hand Grip and a one-year subscription to Resource Magazine!
This time, our #POTD winner is Dery Keretic. We love her layered portraiture as well as her stunning black-and-white photography. We also love how open she is to the idea of collaborating with people, especially those who have never been professionally photographed before, in order to create sincere and touching images. We interviewed her some time after she received her prizes to get to know her even further.
I can barely remember how I got started – it feels like I’ve always had a camera in my hand. Experimenting by taking portraits of friends in my 9th grade art class definitely peaked my interest, but I forgot about photography until I had the chance to work with an old film camera and develop photographs myself in a darkroom. I fell in love with black and white photography; I grew much more interested in photographing landscapes or objects with a macro lens and soon realized that I had an extremely difficult time taking pictures of people. However, my background in music showed me the importance of continuous experimentation and inspired me to explore photography from different lyrical angles, as well as understand connections between various art forms. I was born in New York City, but grew up in Hamburg, Germany, so there was always plenty to photograph when my family traveled back and forth. My Dad gave me a Canon EOS 450D and I photographed to the point of obsession, but it wasn’t until last year that I even dared to attempt portraits of people again. The reason I began with black and white portrait photography is because I bought a friend’s old Olympus Pen (E-P1) with an adapter for a Canon FD 50mm (F/1.4) lens, which shoots these incredibly beautiful pictures reminding me of the old film camera I used to use.
If you remember, what was the first camera you ever picked up?
I don’t remember my first camera ever, but I would say the Canon EOS 450D was definitely my first serious one.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given as a photographer?
Coming from a background of music, I have learned from various artists that there is no single path to achieving your goal – there are no rules. In the spirit of their helpful persistence to always get me to experiment more, I have learned a lot about myself within all areas of my art. I haven’t been given direct advice as a photographer, but I took a single introductory photo class that taught me different ways in which to use a camera. So maybe technical details were the most valuable things to get me started, but in terms of style or skill advice, I haven’t been given any. Everything I do in photography is a result of long hours experimenting, learning and spending tons of time never getting bored. It’s all about keeping an open-mind and letting the imagination flow.
How would you describe your style? How have you branched out/experimented with it?
I aim to have the style of my portraits be honest, natural and genuine. I try to capture the essence of the person without having their guard up and attempt to expose how beautiful everyone and everything truly is. I really strive to capture the way somebody is in that particular moment of his or her life without a large production, staging, makeup, styling, etc. I love working with people who are not used to being photographed. The experience is so much more exciting and rewarding this way. Once I found a niche in portraits (especially black and white), I began experimenting with photos of my family before I continued with friends and clients. I have definitely branched out in the world of Photoshop and have become more daring in the editing process, working with layers that can often evoke a dream-like quality.
What do you love about black and white photography?
I love how non-distracting it is from the person in the photograph. When there are too many colors and other things happening in the background, it takes away focus from the individual. Everybody is uniquely beautiful and I feel that black and white pictures portray people in a classic and simple, yet powerful way.
Where do you find the subjects to shoot? What do you do to evoke the certain aura you have in mind?
I started photographing family and friends, but began branching out when my sister’s friends wanted new Facebook profile pictures. None of them were models and I loved working with inexperienced people to bring out their honest uniqueness. Because I’m not restricted by needing a set or crew, I can take pictures of anybody anywhere and get contacted by people through my website. So, if somebody wants/needs pictures, they email me and together we come up with a certain concept. Usually they have something in mind and I just help flesh the idea out a little and take care of some details. I never have a certain aura in mind before going into a photo shoot and am able to let it carry me wherever it feels right. The process is very much the way that I have experienced recording music in a studio – you need to have an open-minded approach to be able let the moment unfold. The aura comes naturally because it’s not forced. People will contact me through the email on my website and we begin the process of discussing ideas for the photo shoot. All work presents different challenges that I am always open to explore.
Aside from winning this contest, how has social media impacted your career in photography?
So far, social media has played a minor role. I don’t use Instagram or Twitter, so my website is the only social media I use. It’s been a really helpful tool for anybody to view my work and contact me for a photo shoot, and that’s pretty much all I need.
Can you share an experience that has significantly shaped the way you photograph?
One experience that really shaped me as an artist was when my mom recorded her third album in Venice, Italy, and took me along to do the album artwork. It was endlessly inspiring to be around so many great musicians, incredible music and infinite amounts of subjects to photograph.
What can we expect from you in the near future, especially with these new gadgets in your lineup?
I’m really excited about the new Lowepro camera bag because so far it’s been too difficult to carry all my gear with me . I never feel like bringing more than one camera, but now I will definitely be able to try out similar shots with different cameras. Hopefully the near future will be filled with lots of new portraits!