Interview with Kaat Stieber – The Winner of CPC Portrait Awards, February 2019

10 mins read

Meet Incredible Kaat Stieber from the Netherlands! She is a single mother, a true artistic spirit, costume designer, a singer, and highly talented photographer!

Q: Dear Kaat, We want to congratulate one more time on winning our monthly contest CPC Portrait Awards, February 2019! How does it feel to be a winner?

A: It feels like a gift! The fact that others appreciate my work and the confirmation this type is a clear sign that I have to keep doing what my heart tells me to do.

Art Comes From an Unexpected Place

Q: If we might notice, your latest (winning) series was something different, almost like a step out of the comfort zone. Can you please share with us how did you get the idea for this project and share with us all the details when it comes to actual shooting and post production? Please include the story about costumes used for this photo shoot ☺

A: Yes, it’s out of my comfort zone and in a new and sad situation of life.

The location where this series was created became even more important to me because of the circumstances. The photos have been processed at my parents home on the side of my sick father. An intense period that makes me think about life a lot, from beginning to end. With the series I want to tell my story: As children, we start wearing disguises, masks to protect and give our best presentation. It is only at the end that we undress and become our naked truth.

Winning Photograph on CPC Portrait Awards, February 2019. From the series “Carnival” by Kaat Stieber

In old photo albums, we were looking for beautiful childhood photos of my father, the colors and style of that era are a direct inspiration for the look of the series.

Before I was a photographer I was making costumes for the theater. Nowadays I regularly make my clothes digitally in parts or sometimes to scale. Of course, parts and materials have to be photographed and later come together in a picture.

From the series “Carnival” by Kaat Stieber

Many Faces of Kaat Stieber

Q: Can you introduce us to Kaat Stieber? How old are you? Is photography your full-time job?

A: I was born in the Netherlands and raised in the rest of the world.

I have been blessed to raise two beautiful daughters as a single mom. Meanwhile, they are beautiful big girls now and at the age of 46, I have the time for a new career.

Last year I quit with my theater and my singing career after 20 years. My love for photography is now bigger and I have made the exciting decision to go completely for photography.

From the series “Dutch Fields” by Kaat Stieber
From the series “Dutch Fields” by Kaat Stieber

Q: Can you share with us what was your most unusual/scary/awkward or the most exciting moment since you are a photographer?

A: That is already quite a lot. I especially enjoy an exhibition when my work is beautiful and I hear the audience talking about it.

“Snow White” by Kaat Stieber

Some Things are Meant To Be

Q: When did you start with photography? When did you realize it’s something you should do more seriously?

A: When everyone kept asking me to take their pictures.

When I had the idea to go on a training day, I met my friends in a pub. On the other side of the street I saw the photo academy. One month later I was in attending the academy.

I believe some things are simply meant to be.

From the series “Porcelain” by Kaat Stieber

Q: Can you tell us more about your workflow?

A: Ideas come naturally. I like to tell stories like I used to do in the theater. Photography makes this easier and faster. I have no limits because I also do a lot of digital work also. I could not spread my wings and fly in the theater. With photography, that is possible!

From the series “Dutch Tulips” by Kaat Stieber

I mostly work with children for my portraits. The children in my images are seen as wholesome humans, each one strongly portraying a certain character.

From the series “Dutch Tulips” by Kaat Stieber

Of course every image is different. It takes between a day and two weeks to create. When I have my own costume, decor or props, it also takes time in advance.

It’s All About Story

Q: From your point of view, what makes a good picture?

A: If the image has a story.

I do not think it is necessary for my story to be seen or literal. Everyone can make their own story out of it.

In addition, an image must be technically perfect from beginning to end.

Q: Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer?

A: For me personally I have no need to photograph and record everything. I prefer to make an image that exists because I thought of it and created it.

I have no need to capture the world, I prefer to make my own new world.

From the series “Dutch Waters” by Kaat Stieber
From the series “Dutch Waters” by Kaat Stieber

Q: What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portraits?

A: Capture the soul of my model in the best lighting.

“Red riding Hood” by Kaat Stieber

Inspiration is Everywhere

Q: What inspires you?

A: Life, human beings, history, old paintings and artists, the beauty of nature and much more.

From the series “Dutch Mountains” by Kaat Stieber
From the series “Dutch Mountains” by Kaat Stieber

Q: Your favorite photographers?

A: Gregory Crewdson, Erwin Olaf, Irving Penn, Kirsty Mitchell.

Child Photography Scene

Q: What do you think about child photography scene today?

A: It is nice that there are so much interest and so many good photographers outhere. I enjoy looking at other photographers work. I see a lot of things that I like.

From the series “Dutch Swamp” by Kaat Stieber


Q: What’s in your camera bag? (Body and lenses)

A: Canon 5d mark IV. 24-70 mm and 50 mm.

I also always carry a mirrorless fuji film camera when I travel to shoot my own stock images when I see something I ned to capture.

From the series “Dutch Swamp” by Kaat Stieber

Q: What about light? Do you prefer studio or natural light?

A: I prefer my studio. The weather and light is always great and the same every day. Certainly nice if you create series.

From the series “Dutch Lakes” by Kaat Stieber

Q: Any advice for other photographers who are entering our contest? Any tip on how to win considering your experience?

A: I have no advice, it feels like I’ve been lucky enough to win. Everyone has to follow its heart in photography, simply because it makes you extra happy. Maybe that’s even the recipe and if not, then you’re a happy person.

From the series “Dutch Lakes” by Kaat Stieber

Q: Can you share with us some of your favourite photographs from monthly contest CPC Portrait Awards, February 2019?

A: I like the “Melancholy” picture from Kamilla J. Gruss because I feel the photographer is trying to tell me a story.

You can follow Kaat Stieber on Instagram

Kaat Stieber Website

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