Looking for information about Tamar Levine is not easy. For sure a plethora of her work is online, and you can find her name on nearly every social networking site, but the over sharing biography that is so common in current pop culture is not available. As written on her Facebook page, Tamar Levine ‘takes pictures’ and she appears more than happy to let her work do the talking, and talk it does. The Los Angeles based photographer specialises in fashion, portrait and fine art, a talent which has seen her working with a wide range of clients from Atlantic Records to Reebok. Schön! manages to pin her down to find out a bit more about the woman behind the camera.
How did you get your start in photography?
I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember. My dad was a filmmaker and my mom was a fine artist and writer. When I was a really young child, they would take me to galleries around Manhattan and let me use their Nikon F1. In high school, I started taking photo classes at the local community college. By 11th grade I knew I wanted to go to Art Center and become a professional photographer.
Do you have a typical creative process?
For commercial work, I start by brainstorming around the guidelines the client presents for the assignment. For personal work, I listen to the ideas which come to me. Maybe I am watching a movie, or a topic of conversation arises that feels like an interesting visual, or I am looking at links on the Internet – I always have to be ready for ideas. I keep bookmarks and an inspiration folder on my computer. I go to galleries, watch old films, look at art books, at my own experiences, with photography in mind. Also, when I do not have a budget (if I am shooting a fashion story or a personal shoot), I sometimes find a free or inexpensive location first. I shoot most of my photos on location, and since locations in LA are expensive and hard to find, finding a cool location often sparks immediate inspiration.
The photography industry seems quite saturated at the moment. How do you combat this?
I can really only do what I do and keep going. I try not to focus or worry about anyone else. I just stay true to myself and keep pushing myself, creatively and with marketing. Although there are a tonne of photographers, as long as I stay true to myself and have fun and keep being inspired and creative, everything always seems to work out. My biggest competition is my own mind!
What was it that attracted you to creating Little Boxes?
A mutual friend of mine and Topsy’s (Topsy is the wardrobe and styling team I worked with on this shoot) is a model. She had just given birth to a beautiful little girl. Topsy and I wanted to collaborate and thought it would be really great to shoot Joy and her baby. From that framework came the idea. I wanted to do a shoot that depicted a lonely side of having a baby and being a housewife – being stuck in the house while the husband is at work. I thought it would enhance the concept if it took place in the late 60s or early 70s, when housewives were more prevalent. I felt it would enhance the concept if I shot a bit voyeuristically – with zoom lenses, through screens, and so on – as if someone is spying on this woman.
And Edge of a Hem?
I was a finalist in Vogue and Bottega Veneta’s New Exposure Contest. The 10 finalists were each given RED Epic-X cameras and one week to create a fashion spread. I had always wanted to shoot an owl, and I had always wanted to shoot at the Bed and Breakfast that ended up as our location, so really the story was formed around the owl and the Bed and Breakfast. I am always attracted to femininity and timeless fashion, so wanted to shoot something that represented me as a photographer.
For more information on Tamar Levine’s work and to view her stunning portfolio, visit: http://www.tamarlevine.com
Words / Jade Thompson
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