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Katie Small

words Zarah Cheng
All images are from Katie's portfolio.

Calling Santa Cruz home, Katie Small is a photojournalist who loves capturing the geographic diversity of the American West.  Katie chats with us about "embracing the results" and her dream to take photos of Angkor Wat one day.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the middle of nowhere in a tiny town in Northwest Nebraska. I moved back to southern California before high school, went to university in Santa Cruz (NorCal) and am currently back in the OC/LA area. But I think if I had to choose a place to call home, it would be Santa Cruz. 


Describe your photography in three words. 

Bears, Beets, Battlestar-Galactica.


How did you get started with shooting film photography?

I started shooting film after I found a collection of vintage film cameras in my basement. I'd played with digital cameras before, but I didn't really understand photography until I learned how to operate a film camera.


You’ve worked on a lot of photojournalism projects.  Is there a difference in the way that you approach those assignments versus personal projects? 

I got into photojournalism because I needed a creative outlet while at university and I wanted a reason to shoot more. Photojournalism assignments are challenging in that they can be so unpredictable – you may have no control over the light conditions, or the subject matter may not be interesting to you, but the fun is in rising to the occasion to produce dynamic images that tell a narrative or relay events, without distorting the truth. 


 My personal projects are almost always done on film, with my friends, often in a location of my choosing. Some projects were the result of a specific vision, usually inspired by music or nature; others are just the candid results of obsessively carrying a camera with me wherever I go. When I'm shooting for fun I have more control and more room to be creative. I also have zero patience for editing and Photoshop, so I keep that in mind and just try to embrace the results, whatever they may be.


You document a lot of your travels.  What has been your favourite destination so far?  Why?

I studied abroad in Argentina and really loved the country and the way of life down there. South America is a very colorful place and I plan to see more of it some day. But at this point in my life, the American West has been my favorite destination for taking photos because it's so geographically diverse.   I have a long list of travel destinations that basically includes the entire planet.


Which city are you dying to photograph?

 Cairo. And also Angkor Wat. 


It’s Saturday night.  Where will you be?

 Preparing my weekly voodoo rituals. 


Best and worst thing about LA?

 Weather and traffic.


Who are you listening to right now?

 Lately I've been bingeing on Cherry Glazerr, Captain Beefheart, Billie Holiday, early Arctic Monkeys. 


What creeps you out the most?

 Men in flip-flops, and needles. I also hate when people crack their necks.


Posted on March 9, 2015.