The Woman, Herself: An Interview with Claire Livingston

A female model in a blue shirt poses in front of sunflowers.

Author: Sophia Modica

Claire Livingston is a Junior at Seattle U who has been causing quite a storm with her photography. She avidly does personal shoots, as well as photos for campus projects like KXSU and Fashion Club. I wanted to focus on a strong, female, photographer from the local art scene, so I decided to talk with Claire.

Sophia Modica: How long have you been pursuing photography?

Claire Livingston: I’ve been taking photos for fun since 6th grade. But I’ve been doing the kind of photography I do now, which is more portraits and everything, since sophomore year [of high school].

A headshot of a male model in all black sits in orange fall leaves
Photo Shot by Claire Livingston

SM: What have you been working on?

CL: Growing. I’m working on doing new things and just allowing myself to grow. I really am in a place where I can do that and try new things. I’m excited about it.

SM: We all need to water our damn souls. What aesthetics do you typically pull into your shoots? What kind of looks and inspirations do you typically incorporate?

CL: Choosing outfits when I’m guiding the client, I typically go for more basic looks, or I used to do that. Now I’m exploring a bit more and encouraging the person to dress however they want, I kinda work with that. I kinda build off of how they act during the shoot and how they move, and how they present whether they’re more wild and movement oriented like you are [referring to recent photos Claire had taken of me] when I took photos of you. Sometimes people are more regal and quiet and they like taller poses or they don’t like to bend as much. I kinda work with that and just see how the shoot actually feels, but if I have an idea, I set out with that and I’m very strategic about it.

SM: Describe how you typically pose and model people.

CL: I love wacky stuff. I appreciate it when a model just does whatever they want. Like bend over backwards, literally, will stick out their tongue, will get all wacky, will distort their face, flop over, whatever. Anything the body wants to do, I’m so excited about. But also, part of me loves the super articulate pose and thought out looks.

A female model poses in a pink dress, and a background of blue sky.
Photo Shot by Claire Livingston

SM: Some of your favorite spots for shoots?

CL: I love sunlight, I love natural light, and I love light. When you find a sliver of light on a cloudy day or when you’re surrounded by bright colors. *Chef’s kiss*

SM: How do you feel your gender plays a role in your photography?

CL: Well, I shoot mainly feminine clients, or I have. I started shooting femme clients when I started doing portiture, and as a feminine person I gravitate towards that. But I’m also somebody who loves masculinity and loves fluidity between gender. So in my photography I like to just capture who the person is and like I love people. I love looking at people. I’m fascinated by different kinds of beauty. I just let the person be who they are, and they let me do what I want.

A male model is jumping in front of a wall of leaves
Photo Shot by Claire Livingston

SM: What messages do you intend to send through your photos?

CL: Authenticity, be true. Have fun, because art is something that you shouldn’t stress about. A lot of people think ‘Oh like I want to do this, but I won’t be good at it or I’m nervous about it’, art is supposed to be fun. There’s no right way to do it. So that’s what I hope to do with my photography, I’m trying to be vulnerable with myself and let myself explore right now. Just try new things, and post things and not worry about them looking a certain way. I want to just have fun with it, and that’s what I hope people see. And also, just seeing people having fun, being true to themselves or having a side to themselves that they wouldn’t have seen before. Some people don’t see themselves as beautiful, and then they hire me and they’re like ‘Oh my god I look good in that’. That was what really hooked me when I started doing photography, because people actually found a photo, they liked of themselves. They [the models] feel confident, I show them the photo and they light up. It’s addicting, I love making people feel like that. I really aim to make people think, ‘Oh I see myself in this photo, I could do that’. They’re [the photos] familiar, they’re fun, they’re authentic. I think it’s self-care [having photos of yourself]. To see yourself as art? You are art. To see yourself like that is so empowering, it’s a feeling like never before. It’s literally the best form of self-care and self-love.

A headshot of a female model wearing a yellow dress and black sunglasses
Photo Shot by Claire Livingston

SM: How is your identity reflected in your work?

CL: I’m queer. And that’s my identity, it’s not just ‘I’m a part of the queer community’, I identify as queer and I identify as a woman. I’ve explored both of those parts of me before and I work with people who are unapologetically themselves. Whatever that may be, I aim to capture people [who] aren’t the typical standard of beauty captured in photography. I believe there’s beauty in traditional standards, but [I] also believe in different standards of beauty. I think that valuing anybody and everybody, is super important. That’s what I say to myself, to love and appreciate myself unconditionally and to love and appreciate everyone else unconditionally. That’s what I see and that’s what I hope to convey, in my work. I love capturing queer people, I love capturing feminine people, and I love capturing anyone else outside of that. I love the process. I love getting to know them [the models], brainstorming what they want to wear, and where they want to go. If I have a vision, I typically seek out someone who I think would like it, and then go from there. It can be intentional; it can be random. It’s just fun, photography is fun. It’s such a simple and accessible platform. If you have a camera you can do it, equipment does not matter. If you have the eye, and if you have someone who’s willing to work with you, you can make it happen.


Instagram: @clairelivingstcn                                                                                                                                       



Sophia Modica | KXSU Arts Reporter

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