The Photography of Kate Bildsten
Beauty Created from Film
Kate Bildsten is a Santa Barbara local that we’re grateful to have as a customer. She loves to travel, explore, and document her discoveries through photography. Her photos are enhanced by her use of film and I love the samples she shared. Kate was kind enough to tell us more about her journey into photography in this interview. Enjoy!
Where did you grow up?
Santa Barbara, California, born and raised.
When did you get into photography and why?
I started shooting film nearly exactly five years ago, beginning with trips I took alone. I wanted people I loved to see the beautiful sights I was seeing, but bringing them along was not a good solution since as much as I love my friends, I need to be alone sometimes. So, I bring home photos and stories, which feels fair to everyone involved.
How would you describe your shooting style?
I don’t identify with a particular style..so I guess that makes my photos pretty raw. I’m drawn to shooting things I personally find to be beautiful, so they’re heavily dictated by what I like that day. Sometimes power plants, sometimes fields of flowers, sometimes interesting neighborhoods. Sometimes photos of trash, no joke. I would like to be taking more photos of people I meet in my travels, but I usually don’t have the guts to ask them if I may take their photo. It’s something I need to get over soon.
What kind of gear and technology do you use; and how does this influence or impact your work?
Film, film, film! I like to think I’m not a gear nerd (I only shoot on three cameras—two 35mm cameras, one of which is on loan from a friend, and one medium format camera. They’re functional, trusty and simple.) I usually shoot on expired film, which only sometimes comes back to bite me with its unexpected imperfections. I love film for a few reasons-primarily how it takes pressure off the person I’m taking photos of. In an age of instant feedback and replays, taking a week to see the photos is comforting. Second-film is EXPENSIVE. Depending on the kind of film I’m shooting, it can cost me $1-$3 per shot. When looking at this fact in a positive light, it makes me think carefully and creatively about each picture I take. It slows down the process, which again in this age is rare. Thirdly-I simply love how film looks. I love the grain, the light leaks, the softness and warm feeling.
What photographer or artist has had the biggest influence on your own photography?
So many. The first ones that come to mind are Steve McCurry, Robert Frank, Helen Levvit, Alfredo Sarabia. Dickey Chapelle, Robert Capa and Chris Hondros are all amazing war photojournalists who I look up to greatly. Many of the photos I really want to be taking are not in camera-safe areas, or even just spaces where taking photos seems really exploitative and inappropriate. All of my closest friends tell me to stop overthinking everything, but I’m a scaredy pants and don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by the presence of my camera. The photographers mentioned above didn’t have this fear (or got over it, like I should) and their work pays off.
What motivates or inspires you to continue taking pictures?
To be honest, taking photos has become a habit for me. I nearly never go out specifically to shoot, but I do always have a camera with me wherever I go. As most creatives, I am constantly trying to learn, get better, and take great photos. That drive is motivating, but sometimes I go a month without shooting a single roll of film. When that happens, I grab my trusty Minolta and head up the mountains with a friend. California and good company are inspiring.
To see more work by Kate, follow her on Instagram @katebildsten.
Kate Bildsten was our featured photographer on Week #133 of the Photograph Your Love® Instagram Takeover. Each week, a guest photographer takes over our Instagram stream as we spotlight photographers that inspire us…and that we feel embrace the meaning behind our tagline, #PhotographYourLove. As a business that process and prints photos, we see this as part of our mission. Follow along with us on the Photograph your Love® Instagram Takeover @colorservices