Photographer Rachel Bennett // Interview

Rachel Bennett is a photographer and multidisciplinary artist based in Seattle. She works with both film and digital, shooting out in the world as well as in the studio where she experiments with color and light in a more intimate setting. She loves to shoot lives shows, especially when she can get right into the thick of the crowd, pushed right up against the stage so that the musician is inches from her lens.

Rachel strives to be curious, creative, and honest with her work, attempting to capture the delicate balance between timeless and momentary existence. She is a feminist, writer, illustrator, does hand-poked tattoos, loves cats, plants, music and nature.


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What was it about photography that first caught your attention?

I fell in love with photography when I was about 15. Even at a young age I often felt nostalgic for the past, or for lives I hadn’t lived yet, and photography provided an outlet for those feelings.

I love that photography is inherently nostalgic; when someone creates an image it already exists in the past the second after the shutter is released. The moment is gone in an instant, but exists within the frame of the photograph forever. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

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Is there anything from your past that you feel has influenced how you create images today?

I am an only child, and this has always made me hungry for human contact and community. I love shooting with other people; portraits, live music, anything that feels like a collaboration. There is an intimacy and friendliness that comes with photographing another person, even if that person is a stranger. Perhaps because I felt lonely at times as a child I crave this kind of connection and seek it out in my work.

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Who are your main influences?

When first studying photography I was very inspired by Nan Goldin; her photos are raw and colorful and intimate, and she broke down boundaries of ‘Fine Art’ photography. I am also very inspired by Ryan McGinley; he has shot a lot of amazing portraits of people in the nude running around in nature. The photos are wild and beautiful.

There are a lot of young photographers I follow on Instagram. Olivia Bee, who’s work I have followed for over 10 years, is incredible; her images are the most dreamy, nostalgic, candid moments. One of my favorite concert photographers is Pooneh Ghana; she has worked with a ton of my favorite bands and just knows how to get the special shots that make you feel like you’re at the show or hanging out with the band.

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What is the hardest commission you had to do during your career?

I don’t think there is one commission that has been particularly harder than the others; each job has its own challenges and rewards.

I think jobs are harder for me when I’m not as excited about the work – meaning jobs that I took primarily because I needed the money.

In these cases it’s hard for me to feel invested in the project, and causes me anxiety and stress. But when I’m excited about a project and feel creative and inspired, the work becomes easier, even if I don’t end up getting paid as much. It’s important to balance these things I guess.

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Are there any projects you are currently in progress that you are particularly excited about releasing?

Unfortunately a lot of my projects are on hold right now because of COVID-19. I hope to be able to continue some of the work with local musicians that I had planned this year. For now I’m staying busy shooting self portraits, taking photos of my partner, and trying to just experiment and have fun with my photography.

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I want to do a series focused entirely on hands, which I am slowly starting to get into. I’ve also been drawing and painting a lot more since I’m working less. Hopefully some unexpected and exciting new ideas will arise from this crazy time.


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