At the age of 25, Katie Jett Walls was given an old Minolta SRT201 film camera by her father. It was well used and the light meter was broken, but with full manual in place, she drove through the mountains of Virginia, gaining knowledge on the basics and found herself instantly hooked on photography.
After accepting her fate, she decided to attend photography school in Oklahoma City and while there had the chance to work in the darkroom a LOT. In our discussion, Katie believes that starting with film offered her an advantage in learning in a more in-depth and detailed process.
Professionally, Katie started out by documenting weddings, but as the work began to feel redundant and bland, she transitioned to photographing families and children in particular, and she does it all in a magnificent documentary style.
We start this episode off with a dive into her obsession with Diane Arbus and the first time she saw her work at The Met Brewer.
She went out of her way to find people that were particularly unusual. photographing them to empathize what was strange about them. Something in me was like, Diane I get you! Get out of the box and get into the world and go right up close to things that are so different than what you experienced.
Speaking on her fascination with Diane Arbus
We analyze a few of her wonderful projects… “Save our Souls“, documenting Puerto Rico after the hurricanes. “American Streets“, which explores the cultural significance of the streets. “Grief Girls“, her first personal project, documenting her Grandmother’s and her widowed friends during their regular dollar taco night outings.
Of course it wouldn’t be a DC discussion without some chat about politics and photography in the capital city.
Our local news, is everyone elses’s national news
Speaking on the local perception of events in Washington D.C.
Last but not least, it must be noted that our favorite segment comes at the tail end (around 1hr17min), as Casper reaches deep into left field and sheds a little bit of light on Katie’s love of improve theater. Do not miss this segment, because this discovery of how great improv can be with bettering our street photography, is too good.
Apologies in advance for the less than ideal audio quality. We had some issues on one of the audio channels.
This episode brought to you by Glass Key Photo in San Francisco – Get your analog gear, film, repairs and more at 1230 Sutter Street, just off Van Ness Avenue in mid-town San Francisco. Open 7 days a week, 12pm-6pm.
- Project: Save our Souls
- Instagram @katiejettwalls
- Save our Souls Project
- Red Turtle Photography
- Cult of the Stage Monkey
- Washington Improve Theater
- Silverbacks Improv Theater
- Bechdel Test
Exhibit: Bethesda, Maryland, July 8 (1 month) – Glen Echo Photoworks, Miraculous and the Mundane