Karen Inderbitzen-Waller is my favourite New Zealand fashion photographer and stylist. Whether she’s photographing a desolate landscape, an inanimate object or a beautiful model, her images always evoke mystery and intrigue. Last year she published a book with Delphine Avril Planqueel called ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, which is a collation of photographic works spanning the last 13 years. It will no doubt become a source of inspiration for many budding fashion photographers. Below is an interview with Karen as well as some of my favourite images from the book.
1. Where are you originally from?
Born in New Plymouth, my Swiss grandfather immigrated there, and grew up in Auckland from age 5.
2. How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
I have always taken photos from a young age but started professionally for Pavement Magazine about 1999/2000.
3. You are also a fashion stylist, how did this come about?
This happened before photography when I was living in Sydney when I was around 18/19. I dressed a good friend for his model test for Priscilla’s agency and the photographer suggested I should look at taking it up as a job, so I did.
4. Why did you choose fashion photography specifically?
I come from a textiles family and have always been interested in Fashion. I looked at a lot of photography and naturally preferred the imagery where fashion also was represented. I also like more abstract art photography and stills, especially those of William Eggleston where everyday objects tell so much about the scenario. In my exhibition work I seldom feature people, preferring empty locations, it’s completely free of fashion of any sort.
5. Who/what would you say inspires you the most as a photographer? Who has influenced your work the most?
I think it came from a love of cinema and film actresses, and I am still very inspired by this. As far as favourite photographers I have always liked Helmet Newton and Jurgen Teller and art photographers like Cindy Sherman & Nan Goldin.
6. What has been your most memorable photographic job so far?
Probably photographing Peaches for the cover of now defunct NO Magazine after her performance where I was also talked into being one of her ‘tranimal’ dancers on stage for big day out 2010.
7. Is there a particular designer or person you would love to photograph more than anyone in the world?
Besides Kurt Cobain or River Phoenix who are no longer with us, I have always wanted to shoot Courtney Love.
8. Your styling and photographic skills are equally brilliant, is there one you prefer to the other? Would you rather be known for your styling or photography?
I love both equally and find that for me, one does not exist without the other.