Catherine Just is an award winning photographer, artist and mentor. Catherine's work has been published on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, inside Oprah.com and PDN.com as well as galleries around the globe including her most recent collaborative show in Paris, France. Catherine believes that photography can be used to gather up evidence of what's living in between the words and to document the unseen but deeply felt spaces and places within the internal and external landscape. She teaches workshops and courses both online and in person as well as creating images for highly visible creatives for their websites, books and creative projects.
When was the first time you realized you liked taking pictures?
Catherine was in art school and had to pick a major. She had no previous experience of photography and studied painting and drawing in high school. When she was asked to pick a major in college, she recalled an incident from her childhood when she was moving away and took pictures of all her friends and teachers. Catherine says it was a very strong memory and after she recalled this memory from her childhood, this idea of picking photography as a major literally came out of the blue. It was not something that someone was doing in her family or that she had a family history with photography. She developed a love affair with photography and especially conceptual photography. Conceptual photography helped Catherine to express things and feelings visually what was difficult to express verbally and that is when she realized how powerful images are.
How did you make a business out of your passion for photography?
Business was a natural evolution for her. It took her time and many years to take this gift of photography and turn it into a profitable business for her. When she was 18 years old and in high school, Catherine was struggling with drugs, alcohol. She thinks photography helped her achieve sobriety. Photography helped her process things, enabled her to share her feelings through a different medium.
What is your favorite portrait lens to shoot with?
Catherine prefers her 4*5 camera and says looking through it is like if she is dreaming. The frame is big so you see a big image rather than a tiny image at the backside of a digital camera. However, the image is upside down and reversed so you have an alternative experience of what the film is catching and it is a unique experience. When she shoots for her clients, she uses a 35 mm camera and 85 mm camera, which lets her capture tiny little details and focus on one thing so whoever sees the picture; they see one particular thing in the frame. That is the whole concept of conceptual photography. Catherine loves how photography can help her to capture tiny details and focus on small things.
How do you make sure people look perfect in their photo shoots?
It takes a while, once you put up a lens, people are confused as to what to do with their hands or neck or arms because they want to look perfect in the photo-shoot. People are very self-conscious about certain things especially women and Catherine says, as a woman, she understands why they are uncomfortable so she tries to create an environment where people feel comfortable.
What has been your favorite and most interesting photo-shoot?
For Catherine, her personal projects have always been very special for her and had a complete different connection with them. With clients, however, every photo-shoot taught her something different. However, her best experience was working with Daniel LaPorte. Daniel LaPorte is a bestselling author of The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. Catherine had this creative personal project and wanted Daniel to work with her on it. Catherine went to Vancouver, it was out of her comfort zone and she had never been through this process of photography. Catherine used a process called Wet Plate Collodion and hired a mentor who helped Catherine to do this kind of photography. Danielle also helped her a lot in this photo-shoot by being there and going through the process with her. Catherine says this experience helped her grow as an artist, as a photographer.
How can an aspiring photographer improve their photography?
In a digital world, we have lost the ability to look at things properly before taking a picture. We prefer to take many pictures and then choose the best, but you need to look at everything that is in the frame, the light, the people or the things. Then decide for yourself what needs to be in the frame and what does not need to be in the frame, move yourself and adjust your camera until and unless you do not get that feeling of taking the perfect picture. See how the light is moving, Catherine believes we have lost all of it now because now we can take hundreds of pictures and it will not cost to take more pictures.
Can you tell us more about your recent project ‘Capturing Breath on Film’?
Catherine will be offering thirty photo-sessions in thirty different cities as a part of this project. She has already started this project. She celebrated 29 years of sobriety on August 18, 2016. As she moves in her thirtieth year of sobriety, Catherine came up with the idea of this project to mark thirty years without using any mood altering substances. She thinks photography is a great way to show passing of time. Catherine thinks it is a miracle that she has stayed free of all drugs for almost thirty years. Now she wants to acknowledge this achievement through photography and hopes she can let other people feel the experience she has had with photography. Catherine is currently working on this project and you can find more about her tour locations for this project through her website. Website’s URL is given at the end of show notes.
What is the best advice you have even been given?
Miguel Ruiz who is the author of ‘The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom’ helped Catherine to open up a whole world for her and all of his teachings were the best advice for her. They were more than a single sentence.
How can we connect with her?
Her website’s URL is:
You can find more about her work and her ongoing projects through her website.