Issue Three Feature: Whitney Justesen | Photographer

Issue Three - March 2013

Whitney Justesen

Who are you and what type of creative are you?

My name is Whitney and I am a fine art photographer. My creativity comes into play when I plan out, compose, shoot, and process an image.

How did you get interested in photography?

It honestly all started with boredom. It was during the summer of 2009, when I had a job that hardly gave me any working hours, and I spent a lot of time online, trying to figure out a new hobby. I came across a Flickr profile of a photographer named Rosie Hardy, and I decided that I wanted to do what she was doing. I wanted to create interesting images and fantastical visual narratives, and so I picked up a camera and started shooting. The rest is history.

Why do you like portrait photography more than other types?

Portrait photography is interesting to me because you get to capture emotion in people’s faces—you get to, in effect, capture the soul in their eyes, in their facial expressions, in their body language, etc. It’s something that you can’t really do any other way.

Candid photography or Planned shoots? Both? Why?

Personally, I like both. I think there are some shots that you just simply cannot make someone pose for—it has to be natural. Some of my favorite photos are images I have taken of someone just overlooking a landscape, or brushing their hair out of their eyes, or laughing at something a friend said. Candid photography can be absolutely beautiful.

However, if I wanted to plan out a conceptual shoot, obviously the model isn’t going to just naturally ease into a pose I find suitable. I have to plan the setup and then pose the model in a way that completes the photo. Those are also beautiful shots, but it is very different from candid photography.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Would it be horribly wrong to say I get my inspiration from everything? I have so many talented friends and artists that I look up to, that really spur my inspiration; they push me to improve my art, either through conversation or just in the beautiful work they produce themselves. I’m also inspired in huge part by music and lyrics. Commonly, I have a song in mind when I plan my shoot, and will either title it after that song or make some reference to it in the image. I am also inspired by traveling and seeing new places in the world around me; I have had the opportunity to travel around the world, and I often take bits and pieces of things I do and see and incorporate that into the images I create. Really, the best thing about inspiration is that it can come from so many sources—it can really come from anywhere, and I love that.

What is your artistic process?

It’s always been hard for my to put my artistic process into words. It’s often a changeable combination of research, planning, boredom, frustration, and a relentless desire to create. Sometimes I have a really just go into a shoot with the hopes that a concept or an image idea will come to my mind, and other times I do intense planning—with costumes, models, drawings, and specific equipment to help me achieve what I am visualizing. I wish I could tell you step-by-step what I do in every shoot, but really no two photo shoots are ever the same.

What photographs are you most proud of and why?

 That’s a tough one. I have several images that I am proud of for very different reasons, and it’s hard to pinpoint a short list of images that mean the most to me. A few in particular I can name are as follows:

This image means a lot to me because of some of the intensely personal feelings I was having at this point in my life. I guess I would term it as a dark period for myself, as I was struggling a lot with self-worth, hopelessness, and negativity. I took a break from school and went home for a while, and I took this photo as a representation of my spirit draining with what I was feeling. It’s powerful to me because even looking at it now, over two years later, I can still remember exactly how I felt at that moment.
I am very proud of this image because it turned out exactly how I envisioned it. I went into the shoot with a specific idea in mind, and the final image was even better than I thought it would be! I love it when a shoot turns out really pleasing, because it’s a pretty rare thing these days for me to be very happy with my images.
This one means a lot to me because of the concept behind it. I have always been a bit of a free spirit, and at the time this image was created, I was feeling like I was trapped in a place in my life that I wasn’t really happy with. This image reflected that feeling, and to me, the wings on my arms and just beginning to stretch, as if to say I am ready to break out of that cage and fly away. The accompanying narration that I included along with the image is better at illustrating the point than I am doing now ;)
This is an image that I created while I was in LA for a large Flickr meet-up. I am most proud of this piece, not only for the way the final image looks, but also because of what went into taking this photo and the memories attached. I had several other people helping me with reflectors and behind-the-scenes photos and composition suggestions, etc, and that was such a great experience.