How I See It: Katana Carson
How I See It is Le Mondo's features of local photographers being creative in quarantine. How does photography inhibit or fuel creativity in quarantine? What are new and interesting ways to document one’s living space when creative space and environment is limited? These are all questions we look forward to asking Baltimore photographers as they navigate COVID-19.
Who we’re crushing on: Katana Carson (they/them) Where they are based: Baltimore, MD
What catches our eye: vibrant, surreal images
Katana Carson (they/them) is a photographer & videographer specializing in music + fashion photography. They love capturing the essences of musicians in the DMV area and beyond, which has captured the likeness of artists such as Kehlani, Jaden Smith, and Kali Uchis. Color is an integral part of their practice, as is a strong narrative in each image.
Their knack for storytelling combined with rich saturation and interesting angles have made them a valuable photographer that we are honored to feature. See our interview with them and their work below.
You have expertise with lens based work in a lot of different areas. How did you learn these skill sets?
Thank you! I learned how to use DSLR cameras and broadcast cameras when I was younger in school. I was in the Mass Communications program from 6th grade to my senior year in high school, so I had years of trying on different angle lenses from wide angle, prime lenses, zoom lenses and broadcast lenses. My favorite lens would have to be a 50mm prime lens because of its ability to make everyday life look cinematic and soft. A tip for finding which lens is best for you, would be to try all of the lenses out. Any lens you can get your hands on, and take pictures of
everything and everyone! When you upload your photo to the computer you’ll be able to see which focal length you gravitate to the most! It’s a really cool feeling when you find your aesthetic.
How did you become interested in photography and film?
My mom always gifted me point and shoot cameras growing up and they would upgrade to DSLR cameras as I got older and more interested in film and photography. So I thank my mom for always pushing me in the direction of the arts and influencing me to keep taking pictures and to share my work. Also, my aunt, Dawn Manning, is a line producer for films and music videos in California and she has always inspired me to follow my passion for filmmaking.
What have you been doing artistically throughout this pandemic?
I starting taking photos of my family and friends just doing everyday tasks, like my grandad cooking food on the grill, some portraits of my aunt for her birthday, my friend Kayla looking at the fish at the aquarium, my cat sitting on the edge of the bed, and my friend Maya surrounded by flowers and nature at the arboretum. She loves flowers and nature so it was really cool to capture her being naturally happy around the greenery. My friend Kayla is a Pisces who loves fish and the aquarium so it was cool to capture her in her natural element too.
How has your sense of self changed in quarantine?
I used to photograph live concerts every month and a few portraits as well, my style before quarantine was highly influenced by the concerts that I shot. I adore city lights, neon lights, movement and making people look like rockstars and making their portraits look like their debut album cover. Especially creating their alter ego through photography and video. But since quarantine, shows have been postponed and canceled and I’ve been with my family and friends a lot more, my photography has taken a more documentary approach. My photography is still vibrant and colorful , but it focuses on everyday life moments more than it used to.
How did you build your own personal style?
I built my personal style by being inspired by my favorite photographer’s work. I loved the surreal and weird angels of Tim Walker’s photography and the vintage, warm yet vibrant colors in Petra Collins' work and want to achieve that in my own photography but still make it personal to me. I have a love for concert photography and the chaotic, neon vibes that radiate from it, I see that a lot in my photos and videos and made my own world where all my art lives. It’s this neon drenched dreamland where you can do and be anything you want, just be nice and caring.
What interested you about fashion and music photography in particular?
I love how weird and cinematic fashion photography can get, even if a purse is the object being photographed, the photo can turn into an entire story about the character that the model is portraying and I love that. When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of emo and post hardcore music (still do) and I would be on Tumblr blogs looking at photos that people my age took at shows and I would think wow can I do that? And I started to go to local shows in Baltimore and have been shooting ever since.
What have other artists been doing in quarantine that interest or inspire you?
I like how people are taking self-portraits since they are with themselves a lot and I also like the weird art and colors that are coming from it! @Snitchery on Instagram takes some awesome self portraits and does cool cosplays looks!
Who are some emerging artists that you take inspiration from while in self isolation?
@ilyorna has a very cool scene queen/rockstar look that look super emo!
@_iamhugo has these beautiful warm and orange tones that makes their photos feel like autumn and a movie at the same time!
What’s a project you’re working on currently, influenced by COVID-19 or not?
I’ve been wanting to take more self portraits and create short films. So I’ve written a lot of ideas out about that.
This is the space to voice concern over any injustice you feel is occurring. What kinds of issues do you feel passionately about while in quarantine?
I would like to see more representation of Black people in the media, Black people of all different backgrounds and aesthetics. I also want to see more Black, queer and LGBTQ+, non-binary and trans people in the media. I want to see us in films and photos that aren’t surrounding trauma. I want to see more Black coming of age movies, books, photos, horror films, psychological thrillers and fun music videos! I just want to see Black people having fun in the media and I want to make content that reflects that.
How do you feel we can build a community to combat these issues and injustices?
As artists, content creators and photographers, we can make an effort to photograph everyone. People of different races, backgrounds, gender identities, and lifestyles.