For Photo Week, we were fortunate enough to receive a submission from 17 year-old photographer Kristen Cates. Not to be defined by her age, the young shutterbug’s craft is on a level that is far beyond her years.

“Við siglum í land”. (Photo Courtesy of Kristen Cates.)

We’ve seen this kind of work before. It resembles the likes of Kendall Bouchlas who we covered a couple of weeks ago. But unlike Kendall, Cates’ work is a tad more sinister. It has an ill undertone brewing — if not ill, at least tortured.

Like always, this was only our assumption, we needed know if this perceived torment was real. Upon receiving her submission, we had one of our digital sitdowns with Cates and her asked her about certain nuances of her work.

What are some of the emotions that you try to convey in your work?

“In each picture I try to convey a different emotion and those emotions can vary. Sometimes it’s fear, death, birth, emptiness, it really varies. But the overall emotion I hope resonates with the viewer is desire. I hope when you look at one of my photographs you desire to find out more about the story and desire to create. I hope my pictures want you to do something artsy or fun or even go watch a scary movie!”

“The Drop Into the Deep Crevice”. (Photo Courtesy of Kristen Cates.)

“Composing On the Bedroom Floor”. (Photo Courtesy of Kristen Cates.)

In which ways do you see your work evolving in the years to come?

“In the years to come, I hope my pictures try new things. I bought an underwater bag about a year ago so I hope that I become successful with working underwater. I would like to practice with film and maybe even mess around with film making. I try anything once (maybe twice) so there will hopefully in the years to come be new ideas, new techniques, and hopefully a new camera…”

“Infinity”. (Photo Courtesy of Kristen Cates.)

“Street Light Eyes”. (Photo Courtesy of Kristen Cates.)

Despite having a somewhat torn undertone, Cates’ work has its moments of serenity. But, again, those moment of serenity seems fleeting, often dampened by heavy charcoal clouds looming overhead. Although Cates cites an artsy call to action while acknowledging a eerily troublesome air, you sense that something tortured lurks — dramatically put, you sense the presence of demons.

It isn’t purposeful really; at least not to the point of it being a reoccurring theme. Cates is no Stephen King, she’s just an artist who is moved to tell a story that we can make all our own.

What would you like your audience to take away from your work?

“I would like the audience to not only get the desire feeling, as I mentioned before, but also understand the story and relate to them personally. I try not to relate my photos personally to me, because I want others to be able to relate to it. Even if everyone saw a different story in the photo, they all found something. I think that’s always what draws a person to a piece of art. It has some interesting fairytale tangled in it or a personal connection.”

“Cleanse the Riverbed” (Photo Courtesy of Kristen Cates.)

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