Friday, 16 April 2010

Karen McClintock Interview

I met with Karen McClintock on Thursday 1st April 2010 at 7:30pm in Waterstones. It was a very relaxed and casual interview which made the whole experience very enjoyable.

Karen is an amateur abstract photographer, studying photography part time. She studies in Belfast and therefore has great knowledge and experience of the area I am focusing on. Karen has photographed Belfast for years and therefore looks at the city with a creative eye.

I began by explaining to Karen that I was using abstract photography to represent Belfast in a unique way and was capturing the city from an alternate perspective. I described to her that my photographs were made up of elements meeting each other, edges, two halves, opposites attracting, divisions, lines etc and how to me this was a representation of Belfast with it’s religious divisions and peace walls. Karen understood the topic immediately and loved the abstract interpretation of the theme.

I wanted to discuss some of Karen’s work that I found inspirational so we looked through her online portfolio.

I find this photo really clever and intriguing what does it represent?

This was part of a self expoation project. It is my self portait and expresses how sometimes I keep myself closed off. I like to keep myself to myself.

I love the simplicity of this image.

What is it?

It is actually the staircase at the Ulster Museum, I took it at such an angle that it only shows the bannisters and the walls.

I never would have guessed it was a staircase.

I know, that’s what I love about it. Only I really know what it is. That’s similar to your project. I think it gives the photographer a sense of power when the audience can’t quite place the photograph.

These sharp lines are what I have been trying to capture. How did you get these so clean and crisp?

I took these when I was in a museum, everyone was looking at the artwork and I was off taking pictures of the roof. I am fascinated at how light can create three diferent tones of the same colour. That’s why I took them. Don’t you worry about trying to take clean photographs. Your project is about Belfast, the nitty and the gritty. Focus on the subject and the theme. Belfast is drainpipes, gutters, brick walls, lines, contracts, textures, not clean white walls. I don’t really like this photo anymore, my style really is changing to rougher subjects. That’s why I find your Belfast topic interesting.

I think this is a lovely photo, it’s really interesing and rough. It looks slightly vintage.

Yeah this is my favourite photo too! I had it as my profile picture on Facebook for ages. All I did was tone the colour down on Photoshop which gives it that really nice 70s look. I love the rough edge it has, I think my style is definatly changing from the crisp clean white backgrounds to a more dirty gritty look.

This picture has great texture and a sense of perspective. Why did you take it?

That’s a good question. I don’t really know why. Being an abstract photographer I’m always looking at things differently to others, I don’t necessarily see a wall, I see a texture, a pattern and possibilities. I’m beginning to be more experimental with Photoshop so I see an image that has the potential to become a work of art.

karen has set herself a brief to take one photograph a day from the 1st January 2010 to the 31st December 2010. She uses her iPhone to take the pictures and we begin talking about camera equipment.

“The best camera you have

is the camera in your pocket.”

Karen McClintock

Karen’s comments on my photographs of Belfast.

This has a lovely old fashioned look, I like how its light and faded grey. It’s sharp.

I would be carful with your framing here, try not to have things too centred. Alignment to the left or right is better.

This is the rough edgy style I love. I think the black and white looks brilliant on this one. Great detail in the rubbish.

Again that vintage look. This picture plays with the depth of field well, its interesting.

Good use of texture. I’ve taken those type before, very effective, good framing.

Yep! I like this. Plain, simple, sharp.

This is an interesting one, it’s a good photo, not sure if I like the text? But it works.

Using light to create the line, that’s clever. Belfast is very into it’s brick work, that’s a good one.

Brilliant! What is it? The bottom of a swimming pool? I like it, good use of the lines, it’s not too much either.

Do you have any further tips or words of advice for me?

I don’t think you really need much advice, you already have the creative eye and that’s the most important part. You play with lighting and framing well and I think the concept of Belfast is very clever.

All I would say is simple is better, open your eyes and look up! Don’t worry about the pictures being crystal clear, your subject is gritty so just get totally consumed by your theme.



  1. I really like some of these quotes.
    They'll be great alongside the images.

  2. Some really cool quotes there Niki. Loads of directions for them to go in.