Please enjoy this interview with UWL student, Austin VanBuren!
PC: Austin VanBuren from Volume 17 of The Catalyst
Austin VanBuren is a veteran artist who has been featured in The Catalyst frequently. Austin is passionate about art and photography and is a sophomore at UWL, studying computer science.
When did you get into photography?
I think it was senior year of high school, around December. That’s when I decided to get a camera, but I had started taking photos with my phone earlier.
Your photos are always so lush- it seems like you really concentrate on some life force whether that be fog, condensation, etc.
I definitely try to go for a living, breathing world kind of thing. Lately, what I’ve been trying to do is create a sense of mystery. My biggest thing is how people interact with their environment, but not in a formal way. So, I observe a lot of people- and to me, it’s colors and what people wear, how they move.
Do you think having a nice camera is necessary to take good photos?
I personally don’t believe you need an expensive camera to take good photos- I started out on my phone. A lot of people see an expensive camera and creamy backgrounds with bokeh, and yeah, that is nice- but it’s just making it look a little better. For me, getting a more expensive camera and more lenses is about opening up opportunities. I’ve had the same Nikon with a 50-ml lens, and I’ve been using that for 2-3 years now.
What projects are you working on right now?
I got really into this project I started, ‘A Collection of Men’. It’s just like dads, your stereotypical middle-aged men. It’s really fun, going up and just talking to them, being like, ‘Hey, I’m a photographer, can I take your picture?’ I wanted to do something that incorporated my humor with my photography. And I thought about it, and I wanna make a book, or a magazine or something. I thought all summer, ‘I’m gonna get it done.’ I didn’t get it done, unfortunately, but I made a lot of progress, and I’m pretty happy with that.
I wanted to ask you about this- where do you set your portraits up? There was one with a pink and yellow background that I loved.
One day I thought about those blinds and how that shadow is there every day, so I popped out my tripod at like 12:30 at night and did the self-timer thing and clicked the button. I grabbed my cactus off my desk, I don’t know why, and I sat there thinking, ‘What can I do with this?’ Self-portraits are so hard with not being behind the camera. You have to think about everything beforehand, which I don’t like because I feel like it has an unnatural kind of thing. It really targets the self-confidence, to learn your own good angles. It also makes me appreciate taking pictures of other people, because they’re going to think some angles are poor, and you have to fight with how they see themselves and how you’re seeing it and kind of mix and match.
What are you excited to do in the future?
I’m looking forward to playing with this diamond filter and splitting the picture, playing around with that. I wanna do some more creative things with light. I want to mount this new flash off-camera and mess around with shadows.
To see more of Austin VanBuren’s photography, check out some of the past issues of The Catalyst!