Interview With the Vampire… Photographer

September 3, 2011

Arts & Literature, Interviews

DarkMedia Interviews Renée Dawn:

Photographer Renée Dawn is a photographer and visual artist to keep an eye on.  Her ability to blend a sense of timeless beauty with a touch of more modern macabre is one of the many things that elevates her photography into something truly special.  DarkMedia’s interest in supporting up and coming artists brought us to Renée, who we were fortunate enough to talk with about her photography, her inspirations, and how she sees the world through her lens.

Can you tell us a little about your photography style and your background?

The photography style that seems to call to me is mostly a mix of dark, Goth and Victorian — sometimes going a bit medieval and Renaissance. There is something simply beautiful about photos from a time when romance and courtship reigned supreme; it’s the hopeless romantic and old soul in me. The passion really sparked in high school with my best friend when she got me into the media club and would take photos at all the school event with the perk of getting out of class sometimes. I got to explore it professionally when started working in studios at eighteen years old which allowed me to explore both film and digital.

What visually inspires you? Tell us how the world looks through your lens.

Personally, looking at a lot of old photos — slightly faded in tones of sepia and black and white with torn on the edges from being shared. The world through the lens always seems to look a little darker; light is important for photography but sometimes it’s in those shadows or light that gives detail and depth to a photo that some seem to overlook. I heard that most people, when looking or focusing on something, lean towards the light or brightest part of the photo or item, where I went to focus on the dark out of curiosity. Always was a night owl and photographing at night is one of my favorite little obsessions.

How old were you when you got your first camera? What was it?

I remember, for Christmas, when I was eight or so, I got this pink (I know… don’t even get me started) almost toy-like film camera. I would take all the photos I could of everything and anything with this 25 exposure roll, then would patiently wait until the time came to drop it off and have them developed. They might have been some of the oddest photos, but I enjoyed looking through the stack of prints. The camera I have now is a Canon Rebel, and it was previously my stepdad’s; he gave it to me after he had it for a few years, deciding I might get more use out of it — since I was using a tiny point-and-shoot when I was taking band photos. The point-and-shoot was fine because I always seemed to get in the middle of the mosh pit and it landed on the stage a few times. Needless to say, my long lens now gives me that same effect while being at the back of the venue.

You’ve said it’s your goal to draw out the beauty in things others may not see as beautiful. What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty is simply something that intrigues you. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and forms. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, but what people do with that beauty is amazing. Sometimes, what seems the most unattractive, through the right eyes, is the most stunning thing in the world.  It just takes someone to see it.

How do you choose your settings and subjects? What techniques do you use to help the viewer see things a different way?

I choose the setting in a few different ways, usually by trying to visualize how I can utilize the stop. My favorite spot to shoot is in graveyards, since they are so peaceful and the model doesn’t have to worry too much about too many people around. Plus some of the markers have such interesting messages and sayings. I’ve done the rare urban shoots (which I don’t enjoy as much), so I tend to work with models that have similar interests and myself and have no problem running through cemeteries and standing on old decrepit porches. Using different angles and points of view, my favorite technique is in finding natural framing — if it’s from a tree branch or the vines it adds interest to a photo, since most think only of the background and never think of anything for the foreground, which is what creates a deeper photo and more dimension.

Who are your greatest influences?

My friends and family first and foremost; they have been always so supportive and proud of me, even if it’s just the little accomplishments. Even the ones who seem so far away, that always have such great and kind things to say about my photos. I’m the kind of girl who reads far too much, so some of my closest influences are also fictional characters from some of the greatest minds — Sherrilyn Kenyon, Anne Rice and Ellen Schreiber. Most likely, if it has vampires and romance or intrigue then I will read it — unless it’s Shakespeare, which never had vampires, that’s for sure. I have a lot of other influences, but those seem to be ones that really stick out — since I’m secretly a nerd.

What is your favorite image by another artist or photographer? What about it do you love?

I absolutely love Victoria Frances photos, her art is just something I love to look at all the time.  The mix of gothic, dark and can’t go wrong with her vampires. I remember when first started searching photos like this and they always came up and was always mesmerized by them, and still am to this day.  Not too long ago, I found prints in a very good size and then told my mother, “Remember this – I want these for Christmas.” My personal favorite is Madame Butterfly; there’s something about the dark rich colours, the butterfly and the little touches of blood really make dark meet such breathtaking beauty.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a photographer? What’s the best advice or guidance someone’s given you?

Do what makes you love to take photos — if it be goth, glam, urban or just simply something that catches your eye. I think photography is not only an art but a constant learning experience, since not everything works all the time.  Sometimes, the simplest knowledge, even from another photographer (willing to share their knowledge since some seem so secretive), night class or full course, is always for the best. I once was so enticed by a crow, perched on a tree in a yard at an art opening, that I missed most of the party by taking photos of it.  It would let me close, which fascinated me.

The best advice and guidance was just to do what you love — and with a digital camera there is always a delete button and try again.

You’ve described your process as “experimental”. Can you tell us what that means, in practice, and what kind of results you’ve seen from pushing the traditional lines?

I like to explore different aspects of goth, alternative and pinup with a basic idea that grows during shooting. They all can be so different, but nevertheless can also be visually captivating. The models might see if differently since I’ve jokingly been known for doing things that might seem crazy, which I do as an experiment, like putting models in high up windows without a ladder for a gothic fairytale, or on rocks by the river for a bathing beauty. Some photographers miss out on exploring angles and locations. I am in no way a traditional photographer, the digital camera included as much as I love old cameras, but I like to explore the past and bring it forward to today. These results are rather divine; images that can never be captured that same way again, even if it’s the tiniest expression or mood.

Where can people go to connect with you and find out more about your work?

The best place in on my fanpage on Facebook at RenG Photography, since most of my photos are posted on there. Always can follow me on Twitter @Vampire_Renee for exclusive contests, tweets on shoots and coming soon previews on their as well. I also have a blog on Tumblr where I post previews, random photos when my trigger finger itches and the quote now and then that inspires me. I’m always up for questions, chat and all around batty weirdness.

Also have a contest running that once I hit 666 likes on my Facebook page will be giving away a print of my ‘Once Upon a December Night’ photo. Just have to like, follow on twitter and tweet the word night to me to enter.

Thank you DarkMedia for the interview and dark kisses to you all!


(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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3 Comments on “Interview With the Vampire… Photographer”

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