Rachael Talibart is a fine art photographer specializing in the coast. She first became interested in photography in her teens, but the obsession really set in when she took her first 35mm camera on a nine-week solo backpacking trip around the world. She’d just qualified as a solicitor and, when she got back from her travels, she spent her first pay cheque on an SLR camera. From that moment on she was completely hooked. In 2016 Rachael decided to become a full-time professional. In the last two years she’s enjoyed a variety of successes, included being shortlisted in the Professional competition in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards.
Rachael is taking over our Instagram feed for a week (17 to 23 February 2019), sharing a collection of her mesmerizing seascapes. We caught up with her to find out more about her and her photography.
1. When looking at your portfolio, including you Sirens series, the great photographer Joel Meyerowitz described your subject as ‘phenomena’. Has Meyerowitz's feedback altered your thinking towards your work and if so how?
It was interesting to meet Joel and hear his thoughts. I hadn’t really articulated it before but what he said chimed with what I think I’m trying to do with my work. I’m often pigeonholed into the landscape category because it seems the closest to what I do but I try to create images that transcend time and place and my titles rarely reference location. I like to create images of things that make them look completely different from how we usually see them.
2. What is it about the sea that captures your imagination?
The sea has always been a part of my life. My dad was a keen yachtsman and every weekend and school holiday was spent at sea. I would pass the time on deck by imagining landscapes or creatures in the waves. Our lives are so complicated; it’s easy to become bogged down. The sea is an antidote. Elemental, indifferent and mysterious, it makes my petty issues seem insignificant. A visit to the sea resets my internal compass.
3. Do any other art forms influence your photography?
Definitely. I have a Masters in English Literature (my dissertation was on Victorian maritime literature) and I’ve studied Homer, and those influences are plain to see in my photographs. I also study paintings and people have noticed a hint of William Turner in some of my work. I draw inspiration from everywhere I can, often subconsciously. Even the music I hear while driving to a location may play its part. My head’s always buzzing with ideas.
4. What do you think is the most exciting trend right now in the photography world?
I love it that there seems to be a renewed interest in the photo series or portfolio. I think the way we have consumed photographs in recent decades has tended to privilege the stand-alone, high-impact image. We, possibly, lost sight of the value of a series for a while but I feel the pendulum is swinging back again now. I enjoy the interplay between images within a portfolio, when the images combine to become more than the sum of their parts.
5. Has Instagram benefited your photography and if yes, how?
I’m a relative latecomer to Instagram. I came to it via Facebook and then Twitter, but it has quickly become the main social media platform for my work. I like it that Instagram is all about the picture. Unlike the other sites, it has mostly avoided becoming a platform for social and political agendas. When I visit Instagram, I can take a break from the turmoil of current affairs. It’s also been a great platform for me to connect with customers of all aspects of my business, from workshop clients to print collectors to photography industry professionals.
6. You've published a book, have had numerous group and solo shows and won awards. What's next for your photography?
Earlier this month marked the three-year anniversary of the big storm that started my Sirens portfolio. I went down to my storm beach and privately marked the end of the project. Going forward, I have lots of creative ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing how they work out. Business-wise, 2019 is going to be exciting! I’ve lots coming up, including a solo show in Massachusetts this Autumn. Can’t wait!