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Katie Shapiro

We speak to the LA-based photographer about her first camera and her experiences within other mediums of ceramics, painting and jewellery making

From being taught how to use a camera by her father as a child, to using photography as a refuge from teenage suffering, LA based Katie Shapiro likens her impatient personality to the fast pace of photography, and its ability to bend the truth of reality in the form of social commentary.

Dazed Digital: When did you first discover photography?
Katie Shapiro:
I first picked up a camera in middle school.  My dad showed me how to use his manual Nikomat and I once I started I couldn't stop. I took photo classes at school and ended up spending all my free periods and lunch times in the darkroom. Photography was a refuge for me from general teenage suffering.  I took to it like a sponge and haven't lost interest since.

DD: Has it always interested you as a medium?
Katie Shapiro:
It has. I explored painting, jewellery making, ceramics and other mediums, but photography always satisfied me the most. The process goes well with my personality. My work is very personal, certainly biographical, and veiled with sociology and social commentary.  I'm interested in connecting my experience with what's around me. The ability to play with truth and bend that line interests me the most about photography.

DD: Where does the inspiration for Pilgrimage come from?
Katie Shapiro:
The idea for the project evolved from being with my partner who is from Texas.  I'm born and raised in Los Angeles and when we got together I became fascinated with Texas.  George W. Bush was in office and Texas was highlighted more than before.  I became interested in the idea of Texas as a place representing America and the return of the cowboy.  We become more dressed in cowboy garb as we move from the Channel Islands in California to Big Bend National Park in Texas.  I wanted to stage the photographs in National Parks to reference the last great depression and the New Deal when the parks gained infrastructure.

DD: Does the environment of Los Angeles affect your work?
Katie Shapiro:
Los Angeles has had a large impact on me because I grew up here and so my experiences were colored with the eccentricities of LA. The light plays a large role in my work and there is a particular light that exists here due to the smog, and the mostly sunny weather. I try to connect my experience with the world in some way often using social commentary.

Text by Emma Hoareau