June 23, 2015

Video + Interview: Catherine MacBride

Bridging her passion for paper with photography, Catherine MacBride creates a world of whimsy, intricacy and all ’round awesomeness through her lens. A master of finding the beauty in ordinary everyday objects, she inspires us to look at the world with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.

Earlier this year, Stocksy photographer Brian Powell visited Catherine in her hometown of Dublin to capture her story, passion and process in a delightful video. Check out both the video and more conversation with Cat below!

// What was your path to becoming a professional photographer?

I never set out to be a professional photographer, but I have always taken photographs. As a child, my Father took and developed his own photographs, so photography always had a magical quality to it. I loved his old camera and the black and white shots he developed. As a teenager, most of my pocket money was spent buying film and getting it developed. I have continued taking photos all through my life; there really hasn’t been a point when I didn’t have a camera.

It wasn’t until I got a decent digital camera (a Canon 300D from my Father in Law when he upgraded) that I found the joy of processing my own images. This was probably the trigger for photography becoming one of the main passions in my life. I joined Flickr, met some amazing photographers, and eventually got an invite to my first stock agency. Photography ultimately overtook my day job and I was lucky enough to give it up, allowing me to concentrate on photography full time. How cool is that!?

I still often feel guilty that I get to do something I love so much as a job 🙂

// What has been the greatest influence in your work?

I love the work of Kirsty Mitchell and Dina Belenko. They put so much time, craft and artistry into their work that it motivates me work harder on my own shots.

// What creative projects are you working on right now?

At this moment, I’m working on a book cover commission for a large publishing company.

// Your husband Scott is a photographer as well. How do you think living with another photographer affects or influences your work?

I love the fact that my husband Scott is a photographer too — it makes it much easier to take and talk about photography all the time. We have very different styles and I’m always amazed that we can go to the same place and take shots that look so different. He takes mostly self portraits (not the look at me I’m gorgeous kind, but the funny, quirky, wacky kind) and just being with him when he takes his shots is a lot of fun (and occasionally embarrassing) — but very inspiring.

// Tell us about your awesome photo a day project that has been running for well over four years. Why did you start it, and what impact has it had on your creative process?

Scott and I started a 365 project on the 1st of January, 2011. The plan was to take a photo everyday and post it on Flickr for a full year. I wanted to see if I could be disciplined enough to keep to it up for a year, and surprisingly I was.

We learnt so much in that year alone that we just kept going and there hasn’t been a day since that we haven’t taken a photo. We are on our 5th consecutive 365 project and it’s pretty much a photo a day project now, and one which I really don’t see us stopping any time soon.

Some things I’ve learned:

  • For me, creativity comes (and goes) in cycles.
  • To go easy on myself. If I can’t get something to work as planned, it’s not a complete loss as I now know what doesn’t work and that’s very useful.
  • How to think on my feet. When a shoot doesn’t work out, I can’t just throw in the towel — I still have to get a shot before midnight. The project taught me to look for different angles, possibilities or ways of doing something, resulting in some of my favourite shots.
  • Some days there just wasn’t anything to take a picture of, so I started making things to photograph. The project was really the incentive to start making things to photograph; I really love making things out of paper.
  • Creativity is contagious and collaborative. It’s always so much easier when you can spend time with creative people from the same or different disciplines. My 13 year old son Logan has even joined us and has been been drawing a doodle everyday now for over two years now. I believe that having a creative outlet in life makes life much more fun 🙂

// A strong theme in your collection is pattern and repetition, using interesting objects, colours and cut paper. Is this incredible organization and structure mirrored in the rest of your life?

Ha! Absolutely not. 🙂 I don’t think I even know anyone who has an incredibly structured or ordered life. Life is chaotic, constant, fun and ever-changing. I see the time it takes me to set up and take these shots as a little break and a chance to catch my breath before I get back on with it.

// What are you currently excited about?

The photo I’m going to take today.

// Why Stocksy?

When I joined Flickr all those years ago, I made lots of photography friends. When Stocksy started, a lot of them joined and from speaking with them I realised they were onto a good thing.

I love that Stocksy is a co-operative and the members get so much say in what’s going on. I love the personal touch from the staff and that lots of the staff are hired from within the co-op’s bank of photographers. I love the fair payouts and that so many of the members have been so kind and generous with their time and help — thank you. I love that they sent someone like the wonderful Brian Powell over to film me all the way from the US to my home in Dublin and put me at ease on what was definitely the wrong side of the camera… even if he did capture me murdering those paper Y-fronts. 🙂

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