When we were looking for a photographer for our recent story in Habitus magazine on the Ang House the architects, Chenchow Little, recommended Katherine Lu, who had previously taken shots of their Freshwater House.
If you enjoyed the story in Habitus (page 121), then read on to learn more about Katherine’s approach.
How did you get started as a photographer?
I picked up photography when I was in high school when my art teacher gave me the keys to the darkroom so I could spend as much time in there as I wanted. I suppose I developed an interest in printing in the darkroom as much as an interest in photography itself.
After uni, I studied at Ultimo TAFE for 2 years and came out wanting to assist as soon as I could. I went through all the architectural magazines and found photographers' whose work I admired and contacted them asking for work and if possible, feedback on my shots. At the same time, I approached clients I wanted to shoot for with my portfolio and started working with them to photograph their projects.
How does photographing a home differ from, say, photographing a landscape?
I always feel like there's a need to bring back the human element into shots of houses. They are, after all, built for people. Unfortunately sometimes shooting houses with people in them also means that they tend to feel a little self conscious so the challenge is always to make them feel comfortable in their own home.
In architectural photography, there's always a degree of control in order to make things look good for the magazine. With landscapes, I tend to let nature do its thing. In that sense I approach in a photo-journalistic way where I am only there to document it, not orchestrate it.
Could you tell us about your favourite house shoot?
Ang house by Chenchow little. The owners, Simon and Esther, made us pizza from scratch and at the same time, I was able to capture those wonderful natural shots with them and their favourite pastime. Plus I got to eat the pizza afterwards!
If you had just one shot left on your camera and could snap anything in the world, what and where would it be?
It could be anywhere but would have to be that moment of sunshine straight after a thunderstorm. There's something strangely beautiful about that brief moment of intense yellow light against a dark grey sky that can make even the most boring subject look interesting. Although having only one shot left would make me extremely nervous.
What makes you a Design Hunter™?
I constantly need to search for something to collect. Whether it be vintage marimekko fabrics, some odd-looking cup or old photography books. There's so much more satisfaction from having to trawl through flea markets and pages of eBay than simply walking into a shop and getting it off the shelf.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mostly from travelling. Being out of my comfort zone with no sense of familiarity allows me to see things differently and brings about a novelty of something new everyday. The addiction to travel mostly comes from reading a lot of food blogs and knowing that I have to go to that country to try the exact same dish!
How do you go about differentiating your shots from the others on the pages of glossy magazines?
I don't like my shots to be too perfect or overly contrived. I like to know that the slight imperfections and a silent, inhabited feel to the image remind people that the shots are grounded in real life. It could be a chair that's off centre, or a bit of mess on the kitchen table.