Most people are used to using their iPhones when it comes to taking pictures. To get that right selfie, they have to have the perfect lighting and the right filter. But for photographer Zorah Quattlebaum, the technique behind the right picture rarely has anything to do with the lighting or a filter. It’s about the person. “My signature is just making people comfortable in front of the lens. I want to photograph people’s souls — the beauty that I see within them.”
Driven, motivated and smart, 22-year-old junior Zorah Quattlebaum is definitely the type of person you would want to meet. A gender and women’s studies major, Zorah is a natural when it comes to taking pictures. After a night spent photographing singer Ani Difranco in concert, Zorah discussed what led her to pursue her current passion in photography.
She was exposed to the world of photography at a young age by her father, but Zorah didn’t actually start taking photography seriously until she was 14, when she received her first digital camera. “From there, my dad taught me about aperture, shutter speed and camera manipulation using the digital format,” she recalled. Zorah now chooses to use a Hasselblad for film and a Fuji x-t10 for digital. “Both possess qualities found in tradition film photography,” she said.
As Zorah got older, she began taking her interest in photography to new heights, inspired by the work of two of her favorite photographers, Sally Mann and Annie Leibovitz. In December 2013, Zorah went to a concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, and the trip had more of an impact than she expected.
Zorah created a floor-to-ceiling installation piece that consisted of over 650 individual, hand-burned, 4×6 images of the original crematorium from Dachau. She is most proud of this piece, as the remarkable installation was featured in two exhibitions at Winthrop University in South Carolina.
Zorah plans on pursuing photography professionally, hoping to shoot for Bitch Magazine in Portland, Oregon, or Bust Magazine in New York City. “Honestly, if I can make a career out of my photography, that’s the main accomplishment. It’s extremely difficult to make a living in the field of photography these days, so I’ll take what I can get, as long as it makes me happy!,” she said. As of right now, the photographer shoots freelance pieces for The Baltimore Sun, covering concerts or events that occur inside and out of Baltimore.
When asked what she likes to photograph, Zorah was quick to answer. “People, in the most natural way possible … it’s only when there is a break in seriousness, when they least expect me to press the shutter, that’s when I get the best photographs,” she said.
Zorah said that it’s hard to photograph people, noting that not everyone is able to open themselves up in front of the camera. “It’s a challenge, but it’s always rewarding, no matter what.”