How does one become an artist? How do you even realize you have a creative spark in you? You might be the artistic equivalent of a dormant volcano ready to erupt without knowing it. Perhaps getting to know the artistic journey of Nashville photographer and creative factotum Kara Sheridan can help you take a deep look inside yourself and find out that your creative seed has already been planted.
We spoke with Kara about her story and how she keeps her creativity sharp and ever inspired.
- How did you decide to become a photographer?
I spent my early childhood years growing up in Germany so when we moved back to the States, we would travel back to visit family yearly. It was only when I got older that I started to appreciate the scenery a lot more.
We’d always go on hikes and visit castles and I was so captivated by my surroundings that wanted to capture those moments so bad. So, I begged my mom for about a solid 2 years to get me a camera and she FINALLY caved once I was heading into undergrad.
Around 2015 I started law school and on orientation day our dean of student affairs highly recommended that we find a hobby completely unrelated to school. I wanted to work in the music industry being an artist manager or lawyer and I was having major FOMO about not being able to get creative as much so I figured live concert photography would be a great way to get creative and at the same time network and get to know some people in the industry.
I’d say that my love for music festivals ultimately is what inspired my trip back into photography.
- Tell us about your story and artistic background
I don’t even know where to start. I’ve dabbled in so many different forms of art. I’ve painted, written poems and songs, produced music, photography, film, dance, pottery, made jewelry, etc. I am always doing something.
My early days of family vacation photography transpired into live concert photography and some creative portraiture stuff. From that I experimented with grime edits on some of my photos which eventually lead me into more illustrative drawings. Then I dove into collages hardcore. I think I made about 20 collages in one day at one point!
I just couldn’t stop. Now, due to the pandemic, and not being able to photograph concerts, I have shifted gears: I’m currently focusing on more editorial and creative concept shots and incorporating those into my collages and mixed media.
- Was there a moment of your career you cherish the most?
I don’t believe I have had that pivotal moment that made my career turn around just yet, but a big leap for me was photographing my very first festival. It was for Mt. Joy at Bonnaroo in either 2016 or 2017.
At that point I had only shot one local show and managed to put together some sort of “portfolio” to send over. Their manager is the best and I’ve photographed many of their shows since. That same year I also met Bill (Two Feet) and have also worked closely with him.
After that first Roo experience as a photographer, I have been able to attend many more festivals and photograph various artists. I am so thankful for the relationships I’ve built from those experiences and that I have been able to watch the artists I have started with grow exponentially.
I can’t wait for the day when concerts will resume again, and I can see my friends and photograph their shows. I am also itching to try out my new Sony at a show. I have my eyes and goals set high when the industry picks back up and I hope to photograph some new artists and hope to have some of my photos on billboards.
I have taken this time to heavily manifest my dreams of photographing Kacey Musgraves, Noah and Miley Cyrus, Tame Impala and Anderson .Paak to just name a few. One thing at a time, though!
- Was there ever a mentor in your creative journey?
I can’t say that I have one specific mentor. I have a ton of creative friends who I collaborate with a lot and we all bounce ideas and concepts off of each other. There are certain friends I will turn to when I have specific questions, or I am not too familiar with something.
For example, lighting is very new to me and something I have set goals towards learning. My friend TK is the one I turn to when it comes to that. He has also helped me turn my hate relationship with Photoshop into a more love/hate one!
I have also been super into film the last four years and I am grateful to have met Darren Sheely who has answered countless questions for me regarding anything film related. It’s always fun experimenting with double exposures with him
- What are some of your main inspirations?
I draw inspiration from so many different things. I am a lover of space, wildlife, many different eras and decor, and lately I have been obsessed with rainbows. One of my current goals has been to edit everything vintage and super dreamy. I haven’t quite hit the spot on where I want to be, but I will get there.
Sometimes, I’d drive by something cool and envision a shot, so I try to remember the location and then plan a photoshoot. Other times I’ll be browsing Pinterest or Instagram and envision something (throw in some TikTok inspo now too).
Obviously there are always other creatives I turn to for major inspiration boosts. I could list a thousand but the consistent ones I look up to are: Tim Walker; TrippyDana; Cult.Class; mescondi; samdameshek; natashawilson.co and Cogey.
Movies and magazines also play a big role in my inspiration. I’ve been dying to do a The Birds shoot as well as a Blue Velvet one. I have screenshots on my phone of the scenes I want to recreate. If anyone has any crows, hit me up! Some of my main inspirations for that are classic figures like Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Ryan Murphy, Sam Mendes, Playboy and Vogue.
My current aspiration is to play more with mixed media. Alternative edits and mixed media are making a huge wave in the photography and fashion world right now and I’m thrilled about it. I used to be so afraid of doing them (thus haven’t shared many), but Dana and Connor’s work have given me hope and inspiration.
- Top 3 photographers you would love to collaborate with
- What would you change in the fashion/artistic scene today?
Hmm. There is probably a lot I would want to change. I love how we have actively taken more steps for inclusivity in the industry as whole, but I want to see more. I think the height requirement is archaic still (no I am not biased lol). Another thing I want to see more of is experimental campaigns.
I am not a fan of lifestyle so much and hate scrolling through the internet to shop for clothes and looking at boring photos. I wish more companies would follow in the steps of Zara and Dolls Kill and get more creative with their shots, tell a story with the clothes and attract my eyes. It’d be much more of an enjoyable shopping experience, and probably way more fun for a photographer and model to photograph. I would love to be a photographer for Zara, Louis Vuitton, Versace or Gucci someday and take some high fashion super editorial shots for them.