We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Small and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Katie, how do you think about risk?

Taking risks has become more and more important to my creative approach, no matter the medium. I’ve found that if I’m not being vulnerable and risking failure or rejection in some way, then it all begins to feel tedious. The risks I take directly correlate to the depth of meaning and experience gained.
Analog photography, and specifically alternative processes like “film soup,” are all about risk-taking. With film soup, I partially destroy my negatives in pursuit of psychedelic color shifts and surrealism, with the risk that I could completely lose the image in the process.
I got into film soup in the early isolation of the pandemic in response to my own anxiety and loss of control. Taking risks with my creative approach gave me a sense of control back, because it was risk on my own terms. It restored agency in a way, to shoot a roll of film and then intentionally degrade it with the contents of my fridge.
I’ve lost a few rolls by doing this, but going out and taking photos knowing that I may never see the results has been liberating. It’s helped me to better accept loss and failure in all aspects of my life, to take myself less seriously, and to not be so precious with my photography.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love learning and trying new things and my interests are ever-evolving. I have a degree in linguistics and have always held a 9-5 job as a writer; photography was mainly a hobby until I started taking on extra freelance work as a photojournalist and wedding photographer to pay off my college loans. I cut my teeth doing that. The demands of documenting a variety of events and people helped hone my skills, but it also took a lot of fun out of the creative process.

These days I’ve stepped back from commercial/documentary photography to focus on self-portraiture, landscape, and street photography, as well as analog alternative processes like double exposure and film soup. I work pretty regularly with musicians making album art and music videos. I’ve gotten really into cinema and film, and my main focus right now is making short films.

My environment always serves as a source of inspiration in my work. I’m a big fan of all things surreal. Film and color excite me. Nature is a huge source of inspiration as well. I’ve gotten into making collages lately, and am excited to explore that more. I try to paint like a child! And focus on having fun with whatever I make.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I just moved to Portland, Oregon by way of New Orleans; I’m still getting to know the city, but I would definitely take my friends to Forest Park and/or the Columbia River Gorge for a hike. I’ve also fallen in love with the Hollywood Theatre, and would probably insist on catching a rerun of some obscure cult classic.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
For the last seven years, my partner and best friend Mickey Newball has been my main collaborator. He is invaluably supportive and a source of creative inspiration, advice, and honest criticism. His quick wit, good humor, and visionary mind keep me grounded and inspired. (Check out his music @mickeynewball !)

Website: www.kjsmall.com

Instagram: @ktsmallz

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