a scene flush with photographers, you'd think it would be a massive
challenge becoming noticed, let alone regarded.
Cat Palmer has become one of the most prolific photographers in the Utah arts scene. Capturing works that both intrigue and defy while still maintaining a lure that almost mesmerizes, seizing your interest beyond first glance. With multiple gallery and festival appearances, and just as many awards to follow suit, Palmer looks to be one of the inspiring mainstays in Utah for years to come. I got a chance to chat with Cat as she's now opening up her new photography business about her career, her works and freelancing, thoughts on the scene and some other topics here and there.
Gavin: Hello Cat. First off, how have you been since we last chatted?
Cat: Great! I had a son, Jack, in August of 2008! He has kept me plenty busy! I am finally a stay-at-home mom, doing my art & photography full-time!
Gavin: What first drew you to do photography?
Cat: I enjoyed capturing people on the streets on LA in California - mainly homeless people. I loved being in the dark room - sometimes for six hours straight! Diane Arbus was a huge inspiration to me.
Gavin: Why did you choose to pick up and move from California to Utah?
Cat: My grandparents, who raised me, moved here in 2000 and we sold our house in 2001 to be closer to them. We had no idea how much we would love it here! The people, the scenery, the art! Utah is home to some truly great artists.
Gavin: What were some of your first local breaks in art?
Cat: Stoenground of course on 400 South. Also being invited to the Utah Arts Festival in 2007 seemed to be a big turning point from me. Chase Leslie invited me and everything was kind of a domino effect after that.
Gavin: How did you get involved with the Women's Art Center?
Cat: A friend, Daniel Bushman, asked me to come and help out. Later Daniel resigned and Amie Tulius became the new director. We worked together with a couple of other ladies. I resigned from there about a year ago.
Gavin: What was your time there like, and what are your thoughts on the transition their in right now?
Cat: After Amie and I resigned a great group of ladies took over. Jessica Fahey, Emma & Addie Ryder - they had their hearts in the right place and really made a go of it! They had to move out of the Pierpont location. As many people know Pierpont has slowly been dying for the last couple of years. I do not know what their next move is, but I wish them the best.
Gavin: Was freelancing a natural step for you, or was it something you had to mull over?
Cat: As far as weddings go, I had to definitely mull it over. I really had to decide if I wanted to commit myself to capturing people's special days. It is a big responsibility! I have shot for several publications including SLUG and I decided it really was not my strong point. Some people really have the eye for editorial shoots and I just do not. I have really embraced shooting weddings and love giving them a special touch.
Gavin: For a time you held space at Poor Yorick with your husband. How was your time there?
Cat: That is a big misconception from a lot of people. We were fortunate enough to be invited guests there several times. The folks that run Poor Yorick would rather have studios open and wall space filled, so when an artist was going to have their studio closed for the semi-annual opening we would be invited to come and exhibit and sell our work. We always love showing there and we hope to be invited in the future.
Gavin: How do you feel about the awards and recognition you've gotten over the years?
Cat: It has really been exciting for me. I won the Arty's award for best photographer from City Weekly two years in a row and I hope to be nominated again this year. I also hope to one day win an award from an arts festival. I have also loved the articles that have been written on me. I don't always love the photos published of me - but that's ok! I really liked being a part of Salt Lake Magazine's 'Words Of Wisdom' for the December 2008 issue.
Gavin: What brought on the decision to start your own company?
Cat: Mainly, I wanted to be home to raise Jack. Call me old fashioned, but I think if you are in the position to be able to be home with your children you should take it. I am blessed in being able to do my photography full-time and be home with Jack during the day. Jack has been a huge motivation for me to get Cat Palmer Photography off of the ground. I am shooting five weddings in May! One of them being in Zion National Park.
Gavin: Was it difficult getting everything set up or did your experiences make it easy going?
Cat: I am still getting things set up. Some of it is difficult, but I am thankful I am married to a graphic designer who can take care of my marketing. I am still working out some of the details, but it is proving to be working out great!
Gavin: Will you still be doing your own artwork, and how will that balance out for you?
Cat: I am! I only shoot 1-2 new things a year for my art and I will be doing both of those shoots in the next two months. I have an exhibit at art access with my husband, Blake, in June. I am also part of the H2o exhibit in May. I applied to five arts festivals and I am hoping to get into three of them. I have been accepted to the Utah Arts Festival! Which I am really excited about. Really summer will be full of art. Spring and fall is when I will focus on shooting families & weddings.
Gavin: On the art scene, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Cat: I love the Utah arts scene! I am looking to expand my wings. I have applied to California, Oregon and Jackson Hole. Utah is a harder market as far as people really wanting to spend money on art. For that reason my prices are kept more reasonable. Also, I do really poorly in the more conservative scene. Which I think is funny, since I am a conservative gal! I am moderate in my political views and conservative in my social life. I do understand that not every one will love my girls in gas masks. But what those people do not realize is that I have some great photos of trees, the Salt Lake temple and Utah scenery.
Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?
Cat: I think we need more projects like 337. We also need more coverage on art! I really don't watch the news much, but when I do it is a lot of doom and gloom - I never really see them covering the current Gallery Stroll.
Gavin: What you think of Gallery Stroll and how its evolved over the years?
Cat: Parts of it seems to have fizzled where other parts are evolving and growing. 300 South seems to be booming whereas Pierpont is fading, which is sad. Pierpont holds such a special place in my heart.
Gavin: Also, what are your thoughts on the Utah Arts Festival both as a spectator and a participant?
Cat: Well I, of course, love the Utah Arts Festival! It is a very profitable place for me as an artist and I always meet great people! As a spectator I love seeing all of the art and neat things people can make. I was eight months pregnant last year, so I look forward to this year and not having swollen feet! They do need to bring back the slushies though! They only had smoothies this last year and with how hot it gets it is nice to have options.
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?
Cat: H2o on May 9th, Art Access for June's Gallery Stroll, Utah Arts Festival is June 26-29, Alchemy Cafe in the fall, & Sage's soon. I will find out about the other festivals mid-April and I will post it on my website.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Cat: I am really wanting to let people know that I shoot weddings, check out my blog site for that. I am also looking for models and will be doing a formal model call in April. My husband is also an amazing designer and is always up for freelance work - his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.