Catey Hager

Berkeley, CA, USA

Who are you?

A feral photographer keeping myself afloat aboard a leaky boat in the San Francisco Bay. My overhead is so low, I can't even stand up while making coffee and eating sardines at home.

What do you want?

I want to slow down, I want people to listen to their hearts, I want a bowl of strawberries.

Why photography?

As a medium it makes the most sense to me, with a dynamism of being swiftly slow and slowly swift at the same time, and an ability to create work literally anywhere.

What gear do you use?

I shoot a Canon 5D mark3 with a 35mm prime all the time, and most recently I bought a Leica 35mm rangefinder with a 50mm lens, to slow down my process in every single way.

I have what has been said as ’gear avoidance syndrome’ and while being on the move so much, I don’t see necessity in carrying so much around with me. I also had all of my gear stolen two weeks after I moved to the Bay Area, and haven’t replaced everything. Shooting on one camera with one lens can be considered limiting, but it really depends on how you see it. I like being on my toes, and getting up close, which is perfect for 35mm.

Any interests, hobbies, or passions outside of photography?

I love being outside and growing things, being dirty, riding bicycles long distances for lots of days. I love climbing big rocks, writing catty poems, and dancing salsa, all of these things make me feel alive and balanced.

Music, movies, books, TV, games. What are some of your favorites? Any recommendations?

I grew up in a very musical household; in the twelve different houses that I grew up in, there was music playing, and if the music was crackin', we were dancing in the kitchen. I remember listening to Nick Drake and Elliott Smith every morning during a characteristic nine month winter in Seattle. We drove across the country in a suburban with the family, two dogs, two cats, and a horse in tow, and listened to one mix CD almost the whole time. In Maryland it was Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, in California it was Hip Hop and Jazz, oh and Funk, always funk every time. I find it incredible how powerful music is, it is very nostalgic for me.

For words on paper, I just finished my last Tom Robbins book last night, and I guess its time to start re-reading them again. I have a few of Leonard Shlain's books that I have been reading very slowly over the past two years, and I would recommend that people go and find Vonnegut's excellent collection of Haikus.

Who or what is inspiring you?

Everyone everywhere, it's the best, it's the worst. No ideas on where to start on this one, people who inspire me, one in particular is my friend Dave, whom I've known since 2008 when I bought my first camera. He has always been there to cyberbully or cheerlead me when I need it most, his passion and connection to his work is unlike any other. I love rodeos, people with tough skin and big hearts, calm chaos.

What's one thing about yourself that would surprise most people?

I used to raise goats! In college, I'd wake up before the sun to milk before class, made lots of feta cheese, and used a 22mm to scare away bears and coyotes trying to snack on the babies.

What's your most prized possession?

Growing up in a perpetually changing home, and from a lineage of hoarders, I have tried not to become too attached to anything. After I've had photo gear, bikes, hard drives full of work stolen from me, I continue to be reminded of the impermanence of things. At the moment, my favorite thing is my tiny sailboat.

What's your funniest or most embarrassing story?

I just got back from a five week trip to New Zealand, where I shot a wedding with my Canon gear. For my hitchhiking galavants, I shot my Leica M2 the whole time. Unaware of the mechanics of the old 50mm lens, the three hundred photos which I so carefully exposed and composed, came out about four feet out of focus. I feel like such a dingleberry.

Got any words of wisdom or a favorite quote?

A dainty balance of patience and persistence is so critical.

Any other photographers you think people should check out?

Bieke Depoorter is for sure one of them.

What do you wish someone would ask you?

Can I be your sponsor? Can I help you get here and there to continue your projects?

What’s the answer to that question?


Anything else you’d like to add?

Shucks I think that's it.

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Catey Hager