Day 255: First Friday Feature: Karl Roberts

When I first discovered Karl Roberts on Instagram, I was captivated by the amount of creativity he placed inside the image he created. They were seamless and so realistic, no matter how unrealistic the concept (such as a headless body) was. He is able to capture feelings of nostalgia for places you’ve never been and emotions you’ve never felt inside each and every image. It’s my honor to share his work and a little bit about his creative process with you for June’s First Friday Feature.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m Karl, I’m 21 and from the UK, obsessed with time travel, art and anything weird!

2. What go you started in photography?

After school I started doing film & television and after a while I really enjoyed using the huge video cameras we had. Then I started playing the video game “Life Is Strange”, I was mesmerized by the concept of photography and time travel. I was given a camera for my birthday and I used it so much that I quickly grew out of it. With the photos I had taken I applied to go back and do a Photography course where I learned how to properly take photos and it all started from there really, I fell in love with it.  

3. Describe your workflow, what is unique about your process?

My workflow starts at a very basic level. Almost all of my work starts from a thought, feeling or memory then I take that and wonder how I can create that visually. This can be an instant thing or it could also take ages to come up with an idea, but then I sketch out my photo, adding in props or colours I’d like to use, then I do a lot of mental brainstorming to figure out how I can achieve it and what location, outfit and what kind of lighting I’d like to use.

4. What do you enjoy most about creating an image?

That’s an interesting one actually, I really like going out and being able to execute my ideas so I’d say the actual image creating process is the most enjoyable for me. Even the scary stuff like getting into deep water, carrying a bathtub around my village or standing on the edge of a giant abandoned building but I think that’s mainly because there was a time where I physically couldn’t even leave the house by myself, I’d be way too shy and self conscious about how I looked even with a camera in my hand.

5. What accomplishment in your photography do you feel the proudest of?

My ongoing exhibition! I work at a hotel and the manager liked my work enough to let me have my own exhibition in the lobby area of the hotel. It’s my first ever solo exhibition and it makes me feel so proud.

6. What camera equipment do you use?

I use a Canon 6D ii, a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a super cheap and flimsy tripod.

7. Is there a certain theme you try to express in your work? Why do you feel a need to share that? What do you hope people will take away from your images?

This one’s a hard one because it changes so much but an ongoing theme in all of my work is the feeling of the idea of making something impossible, possible. On the front of my idea book I have the quote “It’s not impossible, you’re just not willing to create something incredible” that quote was what I thought to myself when I was feeling most inspired one day. I looked back at how I’d see all these opportunities and just give up without even trying, if I thought a photo wasn’t possible I’d just scrap it, it was possible, I just couldn’t be bothered to go the extra mile to achieve it. I used to settle for average, now I try to be the absolute opposite of that; I spend so much time on my work, on each image. Another theme I like to really delve deep into is Escape, by that I mean when a person views my work, they are escaping the real world and entering my world, where nothing really makes sense, there’s no beginning or end, everything looks strange but somewhat realistic, as if each frame is the depiction of the limbo between the real world and a dream.

8. Where do you find inspiration?

I get inspiration from a lot of things, fantasy, music, time and time travel, stories, real world things like feelings or memories, just anything I find interesting really. 

9. Out of your images, which is your personal favorite and why?

My favourite image is probably “ Welcome to my Metaphysical World” because, it’s a real turning point for me. It came out exactly as I planned it, if not better, the light was also really perfect and it was a lot of fun to shoot!

10. What is the biggest piece of advice you have ever been given? What advice would you give your younger self, the you who has just started creating?

I can’t nail it down to one specific thing but I read and watched a lot of things about the shortness of life and just the realization that I don’t actually have a lot of time to do this. For me, I look at some other artists and photographers and, most of my favourites did great things when they were younger, a great example of this is Francesca Woodman, she created 600 incredible self portraits and she only lived till 21, I’m 21 now and I’d say I have around 50-60 self portraits that I am actually proud of. It’s a strange comparison to make but the thought of being unable to create a completed body of work before I’m too old or am unable to is a really scary thought.

You can find Karl through Instagram.

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

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