You’ve probably heard you need to choose an instagram genre if you want to find followers. To call Women Creating co-founder Cat MacRae versatile would be an understatement. A woman who doesn’t allow herself to be boxed into a single genre is our kind of creative. Her instagram @thesewilddreams is a kaleidoscope journey through cities, landscape, travel and candid portraiture. She’s recently entered the world of Drone Photography and already her images are astonishingly beautiful. She somehow ties all of her creative pursuits into a cohesive grid that is a joy to browse and has recently started to get loud about conservation and sustainability in her captions. They’re informative and inspiring. She’s a woman who throws herself into learning challenges with gusto and will soon be starting out in the Blogosphere. We can’t wait to hear what she has to say.
Cat’s Photography Journey
I’ve always been fascinated by the memories that photos hold. My parents used to take me to visit my grandma in Cornwall. One of the things I got most excited about was picking up the pictures from the printer afterwards. Sometimes I come across photos of those trips, buried in boxes, and they still seem to smell like the ocean.
My dad had an old film camera which I was utterly intrigued by. I remember the holiday when it finally broke; every photo out of focus, and sparks of light across the images, scattered like fairy dust. I remember thinking how beautiful it still looked, as though the holiday was made out of magic, which was exactly how it felt in my memory.
The first photo I ever saw that really stuck with me was Steve McCurry’s ‘Afghan Girl’. His war photography is remarkable in the way it tells a story in the most inhospitable conditions.
Peter Lik was the person who made me want to go to Antelope Canyon. Going to his gallery in Honolulu was definitely one of the moments that made me want to get better at landscape photography.
For using photography as a tool to tell the stories that matter to you, I love Ami Vitale’s work. She’s passionate about animal welfare, and her series on the death of the world’s last male Northern White Rhino is one of the ways that I believe photography can be used to impact the way that we see the world.
How has photography changed you?
It’s made me more reflective. I used to find it hard to sit with myself for long periods of time. Now it is much easier. Instead of always needing to be occupied, I make time to find the beauty in small moments. Like the way light moves across the wall throughout the day.
One of the inevitable consequences of being outside taking photos is a better awareness of the way people treat the world and each other. I’ve definitely become more outspoken about things that matter to me, and photography gives me another way to raise my voice.
The Nitty Gritty
What is your favourite subject to shoot?
This is where I have to reveal my tendency towards being a stalker. There’s nothing I love more than seeing other people light up when they see something incredible. It’s never planned, and usually whilst I’m out aiming to capture something totally different, but those quiet sunset picnics, stolen kisses amongst foggy trees, and friends crying with laughter get me every time.
Although some people might say that it’s candid photography, I’m confessing now to being a happiness creeper.
What subject do you struggle with?
Definitely myself. I’ve got so much admiration for people who are either naturally comfortable in front of the camera or who have trained themselves to be. Even when I was tiny I’d go out of my way to avoid having my photo taken. Everyone else’s children were delighted to show off for the camera, and there was I, throwing an absolute fit about it.
I think that, like many of us, there are huge insecurities. It’s bound up in a fear of how other people will see me. It’s something that I’m working on.
And the burning question everyone wants to know … what do you shoot with and how do you edit your images?
I’ve converted over to the Sony A7. It’s full frame and handles low light incredibly well. I also love how light the mirrorless camera is.
I’m currently transitioning my lenses, so these reflect what I’m aiming for as my essential gear:
- Samyang 14mm f2.8 which I use for astro and super wide .
- 16-35mm wide angle
- 70-200mm for landscapes
- A 50mm and 85mm prime for portraiture.
- The dream is to also have a 100-400mm for wildlife photography.
I’ve just purchased my first drone, a Mavic Air and am really excited to start improving with aerial photography.
Blow your own trumpet – what’s your favourite piece of your own work?
Last year I took a @flynyon helicopter ride over Manhattan at sunset. I still stare at the images that I got from that flight in disbelief. It still feels like the most insane dream. I’m especially proud of the Financial District shot and the Empire State Building. Don’t make me choose!
What’s your advice for women starting out?
Don’t get discouraged. It’s easy to look at work that other people are putting out and feel like you’ll never get there. Don’t compare your day one to their lifetime of practice. Instead, use them as inspiration. Work out what you like and what you don’t. Borrow a little here and a little there. Ask for help. Screw up a lot. Eventually you’ll find your style, and it’ll be all the sweeter for the hard work.
How do you make time to get out and shoot?
Some weeks I don’t get out as often as I’d like – life gets in the way. I do try to take a couple of shots every day just of little things I think are beautiful. It keeps me in that creative mindset.
I usually try to get out either for sunrise or sunset at least once a week – I may not get to the perfect spot, but even watching the sky change colour can be enough to inspire me for the rest of the day, or give me something to tell everyone about over dinner.
My weekends are sacred – at least twice a month I’m going out exploring. There are always new spots to discover close to home if you can’t get further afield.
I’m also trying to multitask a more these days. Brunch with friends means flat-lay practice, macro flower shots in the park, some portrait practice, and the occasional drone education session! It’s all about prioritizing for me – if I want to do it then I’ll just find the time no matter what.
And what’s next Cat?
There are so many places that I want to visit, and this list is different every time someone asks! Top at the moment are the Faroe Islands. There’s something amazing about such a vast and empty landscape. They seem like a place to truly feel the power of nature.
Jordan, or more specifically Petra, has been on the list for longer than I care to tell you. I don’t care that a million people have been there and taken the shot – I want to hold an image of the treasury in my hands and remember how the sand felt whipping across my skin in the heat of the desert.
I have so much respect for people who excel at wildlife photography. One of the subjects that I’d love to be able to photograph is gorillas. There’s always been something about the way that they look at the camera that amazes me.