With a knack for photographing babely babes in the heat of the Australian sun, Claudia Smith is an emerging force to be reckoned with, and even better, she’s only 17. Currently living near Byron Bay, the young analogue-based photographer dreams of finishing high school and travelling America with a camera in hand. California and Claudia are a perfect match, agreed? Here we chat with the artist about her beautiful muses (who are actually some of her best friends), her shoot with Australian fashion blogger Kate Nutting and who she’d love to see interviewed by Zeum.
Hi Claudia! Tell us a bit about yourself as a person and as a photographer. I am currently in my last year of high school and can’t wait to leave. I like dappled light and mood boards. I’ve been interested in photography ever since I was little, running around putting instant camera sticker photos on everything. Since 13 I have been self-taught, trying to build skills and experience, collecting and upgrading my cameras. It’s a bonus having beautiful friends that let me photograph them. Right now I am building up my portfolio, taking as many photos as possible as next year I plan to study photography/film to one day make a career out of it. (Fingers crossed)
Is it safe to say Claire Lewis-Jackson is your muse? Yes, I do use Claire a lot for my shoots because we are close friends and we always have a fun time together. We also have similar taste in clothing and other things so it helps a lot! Our ideas are always bouncing off each other.
Your dream shoot? I’d absolutely love to shoot overseas. I am currently crushing on photos from desert road trips in America.
Tell us about your personal style! Do you find it translates into how you dress your models? Apparently it is “Casual tomboy grunge”, definitely not “flowers and frills”. It influences how I dress my models, as most of the clothes used in shoots are my own or the subject’s; lots of denim and vintage tees. But I guess it all depends on what I want the end result of the shoot to look like.
You recently worked with Kate Nutting from Pretty Dresses in the Laundry. Tell us about your day with Kate and your shoot together!
We are mutual instagram followers and I was in Brisbane for the weekend so we decided it would be fun to work together. It was probably one of my favourite locations to shoot so far! I’d never shot in the city before and Kate knew of some cool places, which turned out to be great! I loved the rooftop and how the background was filled with magical pastel buildings. Kate is very talented and so wonderful! There was no intended concept just a bit of fun!
The song you have on repeat at the moment? Today it is No one real by Tora, tomorrow it will be different.
Do you often find yourself inspired by a particular musician, song or lyric? Recently I have started to make little videos to go with my shoots. I love finding new songs that instantly speak to me. They then allow me to plan the shoot and video in my head so it will have a certain vibe to match the song. Currently channelling Silver Soul by Beach House for an upcoming shoot.
Your work is quite youthful and free-spirited. Is there a message or feeling you try to translate through your work? Is there anything you hope viewers will take away from it? I haven’t really thought about the message too deeply yet, but I think it’s safe to say that – the area I live in has a very laid back vibe that influences me. It helps by being able to photograph girls that I am friends with and I think it helps to create a stronger connection and rawness of the youth culture. I am lucky to know so many beautiful girls! I’m a big believer in photographing things that you enjoy and being able to fulfil a vision. I always look at work from other photographers and instantly love it – taking away my own personal connection to it. Hopefully one day my photos will be able to have that affect on people.
Film or digital? I definitely prefer working with film, it has an overall more appealing finish to it and I love the nostalgic feel it brings to photographs. But digital has its perks aswell.
Who would you love to see interviewed by Zeum? Ryan Brabazon or Parker Woods.