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Ep. 96: Award-Winning Fine Art and Commercial Photographer Tamara Staples Stays True To Herself

“You have to be true to yourself in order to find who you are and be who you’re supposed to be. And that’s really difficult to do.”

In this episode of the Women Killing It! podcast, host Sally Hubbard introduces us to award-winning fine art and commercial photographer Tamara Staples, whose work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, New York Times, Men’s Journal, O Magazine, New York Magazine and Town and Country, as well as on NPR’s This American Life and CNN, to name a few.

Tamara talks with Sally about how she forged a photography career that ranges from chicken portraits to her current project, Side Effects May Include, a photography-based installation centered on a “pill” bedroom that explores the disconnection between mental health challenges and medication.

Side Effects May Include, which has been featured at the Institute of Contemporary Art San Jose and has more upcoming showings, was inspired by Tamara’s sister, who took her life with a cocktail of pharmaceuticals after suffering with bi-polar disorder for many years. Tamara collected the content of her sister’s medicine cabinet and conducted a photographic exploration that led to activism in the form of artwork.

“If you’re not excited about what you’re doing, what is the point? Especially as an artist.”

Sally first discovered Tamara’s work when she bought some of her famous chicken prints. Tamara shares the story behind the chicken prints and how they’ve advanced her career in huge ways even thought people laughed at them when she first started out.

In this episode, Tamara shares the three key challenges artists face and how she has worked through them. She also talks about how being a fellow of the Rauschenberg Residency completely changed her art and how she works, how she uses visualization to create the life she wants, and what it’s like being a woman photographer.

“I feel like a lot of women in their 50s now are kind of ruling the photography world.”

Learn more about Tamara Staples and her work on her site.

Photo Credit: Peter Barraras