Karin Miller is a South African artist whose work is bold and thought provoking. You may have seen her art pinned around Pinterest or perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see her work hanging on the walls of the Holzen Manz Collection and Gallery in Franschhoek. Our dive in to South African culture this spring lead us to Karin and we’re so thankful she took the time to answer a few questions for Studio T.
Your pieces are unique, layered, and complex. Give us some insight on their background and how they’re created.
I must say my work is quite intuitive. I have a feel for my strong cultural background and I am inspired by my environment. I collect ideas and images and scan them into my computer. I also take photographs of people who appeal to me to use in my work. Once I have most of my elements ready, I start doing my artwork in Photoshop and it is a very lengthy process because I am quite obsessive about details.
How do you think art has evolved with technology?
I was trained as a Graphic designer, and for that reason I evolved with technology and I love playing around and experimenting with art on my computer.
How has the South African culture influenced the aesthetic of your work?
I love people of different colors and cultures and also to use them in my work. I find the evolving south african culture and social dynamics of racial and cultural relationships fascinating.
We were enamored with the Protea flower as you may be able to tell from a number of pieces in our spring collection! Is there anything native to South Africa in particular that you find yourself drawing inspiration from?
There are so many elements of that I draw inspiration from. I love the aloe plant in all its forms at the moment, and the more I start studying a plant, the more fascinating and beautiful it becomes to me.
What’s a typical day in the life of Karin Miller consist of?
I spend just about every day working in my studio at home. Not because I have to, but because I want to.
Do you have any favorite South African artists we should know about?
On our next trip to South Africa, where is one place we must visit that may have been overlooked as a first-time tourist?
Perhaps the simplicity and the vastness of the Karoo.
Finish this sentence: “To me, art is…not that serious.”
She’s a mother, a go-getter, an all around lovely lady – and lucky for us, she put her busy life on hold to answer a few questions. We needed to know… how often should we schedule family photo shoots?! How do we find the right backdrop? And of course (to make your life easier), we wanted to know which Tea items she’d recommend for a family photo! We’ve got all the answers for you below, along with several of Corey’s fabulous photos featuring Tea in action. Be sure to follow her on instagram, ‘like’ her facebook page, and peek into her photo shoots here.
What drove you to pursue your own business?
When I started Corey Villicana Photography, my initial drive was to provide a secondary income for my family. My children are the driving force behind everything that I do. Throughout the past five years, my focus has remained the same, although I’m now at a place in my career where I’m fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose the projects that I work on, an incredible blessing.
Any advice for photographers out there with dreams of turning their hobby into a career?
My greatest advise would be to follow your instincts and remain authentic. I think that especially in a profession such as photography, where your work is actually a form of art and a direct expression of yourself: it’s hard to remain true to your own vision. Each photographer should have a different approach, vision or “eye” for each image, that’s what makes each capture unique. Just this last year, I’ve had people express to me that my work has developed a certain consistency, that my photography is recognizable to a trained eye. That’s the greatest compliment that I could receive, related to my body of work.
Southern California must be a pretty inspirational place! You have the Pacific Ocean as a sandy backdrop and sunny skies for great light, seems like the perfect combination. For those who may not be as lucky as us West Coast dwellers, where would you suggest they look for their own perfect backdrop?
I always suggest that a location is chosen based on the preference and regularity of the family using it. If yours is a beach family, you will likely be most comfortable at the beach. Homebodies? Then you should be photographed there at home, in the comfort of your own surrounding. A good amount of natural light is essential to a beautiful photograph, the rest comes easily.
Newborn photo shoots seem to be a must these days, while 1st Birthday’s are becoming the ultimate production. What special years and holidays would you suggest to capture professionally?
If I had to choose three, they would be maternity, newborn, and one year documentation. The grace and serenity that a woman radiates while she’s carrying a child is one of the most pure and honest forms of beauty that we as humans are ever exposed to. The time that you have have to capture the miracle of another human being growing inside a woman’s body is limited, and once the pregnancy is over, those moments and images cannot be duplicated. That being said, the sweetness and peace of a newly born child has got to be the most precious images captured. Babies grow so quickly and change at such a rapid rate, the images of your tiny newborn child will be something that you cherish for a lifetime. One year of life is such a landmark, for both a child and their parents. A celebration of the first twelve months of your lives together, and the excitement of a lifetime. By age one, a child has developed a personality of their own and is typically more than willing to be photographed.
We love your detail shots! Tell us why they’re important to you.
The detail shot is something that I live for. If you’re given the opportunity to capture moments or images of the human connection between people or the essence of a person in a single image, it’s best done in a detail shot. Say that you have a father who has his child in his arms, the initial thought would be to photograph their entire bodies, but if you can train your eye to look a bit closer, you’ll see the child’s hair falling over her fathers shoulder, or their small hands wrapped tightly around his arm. Those are the images that move me, the snippets of current life, captured for eternity.
What are your thoughts on props?
When I starred my business five years ago, the industry was heavily saturated with prop photography. I dabbled in it myself, although at the end of the day, I prefer working without any restrictions, props, furniture etc… My ideal location to meet with a family would be a completely wide open space, where they can act naturally and connect with one another without any outside influences. I’ve also noticed that people tend to hide behind props or worst case, props can overtake an image, becoming the focal point as opposed to the the people in the image.
Share with us the secret to keeping children happy during shoots!
My best advice is to act naturally. Children can sense any sort of nervous or stressful energy, so I approach each session as myself, casual and personal. Keep in mind that each child is an individual with thoughts and feelings of their own. If you can connect with that child, and make them feel comfortable in the situation, the session and the images will unfold naturally.
I know one question you get asked over and over is a panicked, “What do we wear?!”. So let’s make it easy for them… Looking through our current collection, choose your favorite looks for family photos.