Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interview with Photographer Paula Burr

Paula Burr is the owner and sole photographer of Killer Eye Photography, a company that combines her love of horror with her eye for dark visuals! Paula is well-known in horror circles as not only a killer photographer, but also as a dear friend.

We recently caught up with Paula upon her return from London after she finished up a stint shooting stills for on the film Dread, adapted from a Clive Barker story.

Fatally Yours: Paula, tell us about growing up and how you fell in love with the horror genre!

Paula Burr: I grew up in AZ and moved around a lot with my mom. My parents divorced so I spent most of my time with her. I won’t bore you with those details but she’s the one who introduced me to the lovely world of horror. My early memories are of Bride of Frankenstein, Creature From the Black Lagoon and The Exorcist. After my mom realized that these didn’t bother me, the films just poured in. John Carpenter’s Halloween holds a very special place in my heart. I LOVE that film. I love Freddy and Jason too; slasher films are great fun especially because I live in a forest area. But I have to say the boogyman just gets me, EVERYTIME!

Fatally Yours: You’ve got quite an impressive array of horror-inspired tattoos. Which one was your first? What others do you plan to get?

Paula Burr: The first horror tattoo I got was the Bride of Frankenstein. Really didn’t have any intention to turn it into a sleeve but it crept down my arm and is getting closer to being completed. I’m planning on finishing that this year. The next is yet to be determined. I have a few things I am working on. Skin is seeming kind of minimal so I am choosing wisely. But I definitely see more work in my future.

Fatally Yours: How did you get into photography? 

Paula Burr: Photography sort or found me in 2002. I was up on a mountain snowboarding at night in Alaska. A person raced by me and jumped. The snow left this illuminated trail of snow in the light and as I sat there and watched it fall, it just memorized me. I could think about was how could I capture that image.

Fatally Yours: Where did you attend school to study your craft? 

Paula Burr: I took a few classes at a junior college in AZ. then decided that I just loved it and I thought hey why not try and take this further. So I moved to Southern CA and went school for photography and film, now graduated, I’m working and living life.

Fatally Yours: What equipment do you use? 

Paula Burr: That’s a tricky question; I love film and still use my Hassleblad. But lately with the digital push, I find myself more and more using my Canon 5D.

Fatally Yours: How did you combine your love of the macabre with your love of photography? 

Paula Burr: In the beginning, I started in Fine Art Photography. When I started out, my images all had a spooky quality that seemed to be something that would come out of a music video, something that had been manifested dream. I would see things in film and TV that I would try and recreate and put a little twist on to make it original. I dream very vividly so I try and write down what I dream so I can recreate that as well.

Fatally Yours: How do you prepare and get inspired for a shoot?

Paula Burr: Preparation comes from listening to lots of music, watching lots of movies (of all kinds) and searching for concepts. When doing horror inspired shoots, I tend to watch films that put me in a certain mind set. Sometimes I pick a character from a film and try to portray an emotion that is brought on by the film. More times out of any though, I would have to say my dreams drive my final imagery. I love to grab my Ipod and just go. I really enjoy wandering around, exploring and watching the world all while listening to music. There is something very inspirational about listening to acoustic guitar or piano even the violin that just tunes me in. Somehow, I seem to match up my emotions with my surroundings and then something will just pop and there will be my idea for the next shoot.

Fatally Yours: What has been the most memorable shoot you’ve had so far? 

Paula Burr: I would have to say the most memorable is the most recent. I just wrapped the film Dread (Clive Barker adaptation) on location in London. I was over there shooting stills, it was my first time to the UK and I absolutely adored it! I also plan on going back.

Fatally Yours: What do you think sets you apart from other photographers? 

Paula Burr: Well, I would like to think it’s because I play well with others? Really though, I do have a genuine love for things that are a bit out of the ordinary and the macabre inspired. Surrounding myself with places/people of like minds has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing individuals. I believe working with those people who are involved in the horror community bring me to a whole new level. It’s a blessing to have such a support group. Not only are they my friends, but also they inspire me to be better and push my creativity.

Fatally Yours: If you could photograph a current horror celebrity, who would it be and why? 

Paula Burr: Well as far as celeb goes I would love to photograph Rob Zombie. I love his work on so many levels.

Fatally Yours: If you had the option to photograph anyone, past or present/dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

Paula Burr: That is one of the hardest questions for me. Can I give you a top 3! It’s a toss up between George Romero and Vincent Price and Tim Burton. As for why? They are all just awesome!

Fatally Yours: What do you like to do in your spare time besides watch horror flicks and photography? 

Paula Burr: Snowboard when I can get away, and I love to travel. I also enjoy sleeping in and watching other non horror movies.

Fatally Yours: In your line of work, what (or who) is your #1 inspiration? 

Paula Burr: At the moment, my head is completely wrapped around motion picture. Since I have been working on set my mind is a bit distorted. My stills will be pushing the levels of “set pieces” in the future. I also have been watching music videos and films to look at lighting and watching for the little things that directors of photography throw into the mix. Watching cinematography pushes the boundaries for me shooting stills. I’m such a visual person that truly my inspiration comes from learning what I can by watching, looking around and just staying tuned in to my surroundings.

Fatally Yours: What are your hopes, dreams and goals for the future with Killer Eye Photography?

Paula Burr: Well at the moment Killer Eye is doing well! While working in London my site is currently a blog site, rather than an image gallery, but I am building a new web site as we speak! New look coming soon! As far as my goals, I just really want to give the world something different.

Working in the commercial world of fashion and portraiture, I am just bored to death with the same images over and over. As far as the commercial industry goes, I would love to be a photographer who can grab celebrities and twist them into something surreal. I had a friend once say to me, “You could be the next Annie Leibovitz of horror!” I have to admit I loved the sound of that!  Creating a fantasy world, dark dreamlike sets that take you away to a place you could never imagine, that is where my head is and where I would love to have people sit for me. Tim Burton for example, when I look at his body of work, I am reminded of how much I want to be a child again. Dreams of falling down a rabbit hole to a world of magic and mystery…I mean, trying to read the Manual for the Recently Deceased, I’d give that a shot. His mind completely blows me away. I would like to keep pushing forward in my imagery to give the world my ideas of bizarre, mysterious and creepy. In the same time hoping that there is some dark soul out there that finds my art beautiful.

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