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Interview with Susana Raab

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Finger Lookin’ Good, London, Kentucky 30×40 C-Print

2008 PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review Prize Winner Susana Raab shares some of her thoughts this month. Interview by Ann Marie Popko.

How do you describe your photographic style?
My photographic style really depends upon the project I am working on and what I am trying to say, I am a chameleon that way, and I get bored doing the same thing. Also I think different modalities benefit the entire conversation. So for a project like Consumed, where I am exploring the pomp, circumstance, and addiction to the melodrama of fast food, my style is quirky, tongue and cheek, and heavily lit for the most part, to create a color saturated hyper-reality. For my series, A Sense of Place, where I explore the homes of Southern writers who inspire me and my vision, the style is nostalgic, shot with a holga, and while most of the interiors are lit, you probably can’t tell. I’m a bit peripatetic this way.

When and how did you start your career as a professional photographer?
I started out covering Congress for a newspaper called Roll Call, owned by the Economist. Following in the footsteps of Jackie Kennedy, I shot a column called “The Inquiring Papparrazzi” (pre the demise of Princess Di, I might add.) I got to stalk Congress people and ask them questions like, “If you were to sing a song at the Grammies, what would it be?” I would roll my eyes when one Congresswoman answered, “‘I Believe I Can Fly’, because I really do believe that.” I would get a good laugh out of Congressmen like Bill Delahunt (MA) who playfully responded singing, “If you think I’m sexy, and you want my body!” Did I mention I was still in my twenties?

Who is your photographic hero?
My partner, Stephen Crowley, who shoots for The New York Times, is constantly creating and conceptualizing, not letting the parameters of photojournalism define him or his technique.

Do you have a photo motto or mantra?
It might suck being here, but it will make a much better story at the bar later.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?
Fiddlin’ Freedom Fighting Folklorist – another atypical career path.

What are you currently working on?
Preparing the debut of a new project, Cholita es Bonita, about Peru, my birthplace.

What are your future creative goals?
1. To keep making a living following my bliss, doing whatever it takes.
2. To get Consumed published as a book.
3. Gallery representation on the US East and West coasts and in Europe.

Any upcoming shows/projects/news?
My project, Consumed, was just featured in PDN’s Exposure’s last month. I’m traveling to Lodz, Poland in May as a grand finalist of the Fotofestiwal there.
I’ve got a solo exhibition coming up in July at the Kunstlicht Gallery in Shanghai, called Super America, and another one later in July at the Dean Jensen Gallery of Milwaukee.

Anything else we should know?
Ummm, there’s a lot we should all know, but figuring it out is half the fun!