WORDS BY: Sahara Kalafchi
MEDIA: Anna Koblish
Anna Koblish is an up and coming Photographer from Philadelphia who creates unique and dynamic visuals through her retro-style editing. In our latest Creator Journal Anna gets candid with TCK Writer Sahara Kalafchi about her journey as a creative and what it means to be successful.
1. Q: GIVE ME AN INTRODUCTION OF WHO YOU ARE AND YOUR BACKGROUND...
I grew up in a suburb right outside of Philadelphia and was always a ~spirited~ kid. I went to a few different schools. I started photography when I was 12 when I was a Tumblr kid. I bootlegged photoshop and taught myself how to use it (nearly destroying our family desktop in the process lol). I loved photography and did it almost everyday. When I got to high school I stopped bc I wanted to be “popular” and “normal” and the older kids were making fun of me on Facebook lmfao. I didn’t start shooting for real again until this may, which is crazy. In high school I literally never considered a creative career (which is insane), until my senior year of high school when I decided I wanted to go to art school. I built my portfolio from scratch in 2 months and ended getting into every school I applied to which was a huge accomplishment for me at the time. I ended up going to Parsons for product design which was both awesome and hell, and then picked photography back up again in quarantine! And here we are!!
2. Q: TELL US ABOUT WHEN YOU DISCOVERED YOU HAD A PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE TRANSFORMING YOUR PASSION INTO A CAREER...
Damn. Honestly, I don’t remember when I first realized I loved images but It's always been a central part of my existence. I’ve always taken photos, like even as a kid I was always trying to film things on the family VHS and stuff. It's so crazy that it took me so long to realize I wanted to do photography because it's literally always been at the center of all my creative endeavors. I was super lost in college, I really didn't know how I was gonna accomplish everything I knew wanted to do, which was work in fashion and be around celebrities and make things.... (like… hello… photography!!!??). but through different school projects I started getting into collaging and editing. by my junior year of college, I editing iPhone photos on my iPad constantly. It made me really happy and felt fulfilling enough at that time. everything just kind of came together during my senior thesis. I started shooting again and then slowly started to edit everything like I used to and now here we are. the fact that people respond to my stuff and like it so much is so cool. It’s kinda nuts!
SOURCE: Anna Koblish
3. Q: WHO WOULD YOU SAY ARE SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
Kk to name a few- David LaChapelle, Hugo Comte, indiana420bitch, Brent McKeever , Connor Cunningham, Amber Assaly, and Trippy Diana are a few of my fav photographers. Mowalola, Nodaleto, Kim Shui, Bottega, Creepyyeha, Mugler, Molly Goddard, Asai, Charolette Knowles, and Proenza Schouler are a few of my fav brands. Theres so many more. I’d die to work with any of them! Huge inspo vibes
4. Q: WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS AND, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE IT?
A lot of it is unplanned and happens spontaneously. The best I can do a lot of the time is prep what I can for a shoot and see what happens, as well as having people in the room I trust to give suggestions. When it comes to editing, I start with what the client wants and from there usually go with my gut from there. I pay attention to who I’m shooting and the vibe they give and try my best to match their energy. Editing takes the longest and is definitely the hardest part of my work. I shoot for the editing process basically.
5. Q: YOUR EDITING AND PHOTOGRAPHY STYLES ARE REALLY DISTINCT, HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THE AESTHETIC THAT YOU HAVE?
I’d say I went through a ton of different styles honestly. In the beginning I tried a lot of different styles, which is usually how it goes when you’re starting out. The shift happened when I started trying to “copy” my favorite photographers. I would look at my favorite photos, figure out how they were done and then try to recreate them. By doing this, you naturally start to bring your own vision / style to whatever you’re working on, so you end up developing new skills. It’s the best way to learn in my opinion. That’s how I learned how to edit the way I do now. And my style will probably change again! That’s growth!! Period!
SOURCE: Anna Koblish
6. Q: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS DEFINED YOUR SUCCESS AS A CREATIVE?
I don’t feel like I’m “successful” yet. I’ve technically “succeeded” in the sense that I’ve hit a lot of the goals I set out to accomplish, but there’s still many many more I want to hit and I’m constantly setting new ones. I’m extremely competitive. When I truly want something, I get it. Sounds super intense, but its the truth. All my recent small successes have been deliberate goals I’ve set. Because of this though, it can hard to enjoy the little victories. I’m always trying to one-up myself, like, “OK GREAT BUT WHATS NEXT??!??!!”, type thing. I’m currently rlly trying to enjoy this place I’m in because theres definitely a lot of freedom in it. I do feel proud of all the work that’s got me here, which is a victory in itself. I hope that once I’ve hit my major, major goals, I feel like I’ve succeeded, but I think that’s a mindset I have control over. Like, I’m in control over how I view things, which is something I have to remind myself of everyday. ALSO, everyone is selling lies so it’s pointless to compare yourself to others and their success. I feel like that’s important to say.
7. Q: WITH THE WORLD VIRTUALLY SHUT DOWN AND STAY AT HOME ORDERS BEING ISSUED, HOW HAS BEING IN QUARANTINE AFFECTED YOUR CREATIVITY?
Ummmm quarantine changed my life. Without it I wouldn’t have started shooting again. It gave me the time and space to develop something without fear of failure. I was living with my friends during lockdown so we just shot alllll the time. It was so fun. When we started to come out strict lockdown, I had developed enough confidence and skill to start actually working. I got super lucky, I know most people didn’t have as much of a positive experience as I did.
8. Q: WHAT IS SOME ADVICE THAT YOU’D GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON WHO WNATS TO GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
SHOOT. EVERY. DAY. Or as much as you can, but you have to shoot. Like, you can’t be afraid to make bad work because you will, its unavoidable. My favorite saying is “thought is the death of action” and I say that to myself almost everyday. You just have to do it.
For some more specific advice, try to emulate photographers you love. Study their work, figure out how they did it or how you think they did it. It’s not about getting it right, it’s about learning and trying new things. That’s how you get better. In the beginning I researched a lot. Lighting, editing, cameras, career paths, etc. I was on YouTube and reading articles everyday. Not saying the advice was always good or meant for me, but its important to absorb all of that information so you can then decide what feels right. If you want to do it for living, you have to post your work. I self promote everyday on multiple platforms. People need to see you. Don’t worry about flops, its a waste of time. Just keep posting and connecting with people. People love to look at pretty shit. Social media is a super power for creatives, you have to use it.
Also (last thing) ask questions. Find people you love and reach out to them. Connect with other photographers on your level. Another good saying is, “reach out, not up.”
SOURCE: Anna Koblish
8. Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATING AND SHARING ART IS IN THE WORLD?
I think for someone like me, sharing and creating is everything. I don’t rlly have any other skills LOL. Like, its what fuels me and makes me happy, which is certainly enough. Even if you aren’t “creating” anything, like, just sharing things or thoughts or passions with others is so powerful and important. We all want to connect with one another. People want to hear what you have to say, I promise you.
8. Q: FINALLY, WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS WITH THIS CREATIVE PURSUIT?
Oh geez. This is a big question. I try to think in 6 month increments now because the big, big picture tends to feel too out of reach. Setting smaller goals is more manageable, I’d say. But to answer, I want to be published in my favorite magazines and I want to shoot a few covers. I want to shoot celebrities (Post Malone, Billie Eilish , and Troye Sivan are a few I’m gunning for). I want to be respected for what I do and make enough money to live (money doesn’t motivate me tbh). I want to start some sort of company or brand... my dream for awhile was to start my own magazine (because I’m obsessed w them) but who knows where print will be in 10 years. I want to build my own house somewhere on a hill and have a family and have like.. dogs and horses and shit... I still want to be creative directing and shooting. Hopefully I’ll have directed a few music videos at that point. I just wanna be happy and healthy and feel like I did what I set out to do. Nothing too crazy... lol.
That brings us to the end of our Interview with Anna, we hope you enjoyed one of our most in depth pieces. A special shout out to Anna for taking part in our “Creator Spotlight Series” make sure to check out more of her work and give her a follow below!
MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT ANNA ON INSTA AND GIVE HER A FOLLOW WHILE YOU’RE AT IT ;)