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Ten Questions with Rebecca Viveash

November 14, 2014
Rebecca Viveash

All Photos Courtesy of Rebecca Viveash

It is rare to find a photographer who can capture the subtlety of a relationship or the quiet vibrancy of a city as poignantly as Rebecca Viveash.  Her photographs are as much steeped in color as they are rich with emotion.  Recently I chatted with Rebecca hoping to delve into her creative mind and glean a little photographic insight along the way.

Rebecca Viveash Photography

1)  Color is such a poignant component to your photographs.  It’s almost like a character itself in your prints.  Tell us how you view/incorporate color in your work.

I love colour!  If you love light you have to love colour.  Colour draws you in, adds narrative to a story.  It inspires emotion, it can make us happy or sad, confident or uncomfortable.  It can increase heart rates and stir passions.  But to be honest it’s also hard to get right. It is important to realise that the human brain requires a sense of order or it will not take in a message from the image it sees.  If too many colours are used, the viewer can become visually confused and may reject an image. So as much as I love it, it’s also my nemesis.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Viveash

2)  Your work captures spontaneity in the most beautiful ways.  Is it challenging to make this look so effortless?

Spontaneity is a tricky thing to pin down.  With everyone, including myself, it comes and goes.  The first thing to always remember is that people are only spontaneous if they are happy in their surroundings and amongst people that they trust.  Which is why, as a photographer, it’s important  to establish personal relationships as quickly as possible.

There is a fine line that most photographers try to tread between observation/documentary photography and engineering these moments.  Sometimes you do need to give the situation a little light push in the right direction.  This is fairly easy, it’s just a matter of gauging people and knowing what they will respond to.  For example, telling people to look lovingly into each other eyes will normally cause an eruption of giggles.  Telling children NOT to smile results in lots of cheeky grins.  When taking one-on-one portraits with clients who are shy in front of the camera you need to get creative.  Once, when shooting for an editorial I pretended to be making a quick phone call, but really I was phoning the client’s mobile.  I got the shot when she just looked up from her magazine  and heard her phone.  It was the best one of the afternoon.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Viveash

3)  What are your personal favorite things to photograph?

Faces, moments, and music gigs.  I answer that very quickly without much thought but now I can’t think of anything else so it must be true.  Faces, of course, for all the obvious reasons, moments for the hidden voyeur inside me, and music gigs as I love predicting where the lights are going to be.  It’s like a game, a war in my head with the lighting technician.  Oh and of course my children :o)

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Viveash

4)  Who inspires you as an artist {and why}?

I have a habit of getting ‘stuck’ on photographers on a monthly basis.  These last few months have all about Marta Bevacqua, Katharina Jung, and Leila & Damien.  These are young photographers (directors)  and I mean young young.  But this is how it should be, talented, unconventional, innovative and most importantly unafraid.  Swoon!  Eek I think I’m feeling my age.

Rebecca Viveash Photography

 5)  I love how you manipulate natural light in your photographs.  What is your favorite type of light to work with?

Not polluted light that’s for sure!  But I’ve been living in Asian cities for so long that I’ve almost forgotten what clear light looks like!  I LOVE pre and post storm light.  When everything looks like it’s singing with colour.  When shooting in the tropics, for natural light it’s best to shoot before 9am or after 3pm.

Rebecca Viveash Photography

6)  What is your number one pet peeve when it comes to photography trends today?

Newborn babies in baskets/ buckets or flower pots.  Sorry but it’s not for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the skill that goes into this form of photography, there are some amazing baby photographers out there who do this, but it’s not for me.  I LOVE taking baby photos, but in the home, cuddling up to mum and dad, where they should be.

rebecca Viveash Photography

Rebecca Viveash Photography

7)  Do you have any shows coming up?  Where can we find your work?

Earlier this year I had  a show called ‘Ladies of Jakarta’ which was about depicting Jakarta in a humane way, to try to show its vulnerable side.  Overlaying streets scenes with a human female figure.  I have to say it was a great success (blush) and I would love to do it again.  I have been approached by two small galleries in KL but after some correspondence they are not too keen to show any ‘naked’ images.  Humph.  Not really the done thing here I believe.  So sadly I shan’t be exhibiting this again until I return to England, or find some kind of private exhibiting  space.  There are only a handful of the prints left for sale though as there was limited print run and the images can be seen here.

I do have a few things on the go, which I’m trying to manipulate to fit in with Kuala Lumpur, so fingers crossed!
I also try to keep all news about upcoming works on my Facebook page

Rebecca Viveash Photograhy

8)  What’s your favorite camera to work with?

I’m a Nikon girl. Film or Digital.  Always have been.  I shoot with prime lens as I like to move my feet rather than zoom.  It makes me work for the shoot a lot more which in turn helps me slow down and think.  (I’m not very good at slowing down) Oh and I’m new to the world of ‘instagram’ so there’s nothing wrong with a quick phone shot :o)

Rebecca Viveash Photography


9)  So many family portraits focus wholly on capturing time, but you also place great emphasis on place.  Has being an expat influenced your perspective/what you value in a portrait?

I think there is definitely room for the ‘expat family shoot’ for sure. Many families who travel abroad for work very often go to countries/cultures that are far removed from their lives back at home. After a few months it’s easy to get blasé about the changes.  As we rush to work or take the kids to school we no longer notice the brightly coloured shop doorways, the palm-tree shadow across the path, the incense smoke coming out the temples, the hawkers carts or the textures on the monsoon drenched walls.  But when we leave these are the things that we will remember, that will stick in our heads.

If I can capture these small details in a family shoot– the memories of the smells/the sound of morning prayer and the textures will all come flooding back when viewed 20 years later.  I believe that each place we live in leaves, or should be allowed to leave, an imprint on us and it’s important to acknowledge this.  I’m not saying that each shoot has to be a Condé Nast Traveller’s guide, it’s just important to capture life, how it is in that moment, as it will never be the same again.

Rebecca Viveash Photography

10)  Speaking of place, what are some of the most photogenic places you’ve found in KL?

I’ve been in KL 9 weeks and counting now – so ask me in 9 months ;o) Ha, no I have got around quite a bit, and been to places that I probably shouldn’t (including down flood drains to photograph some amazing graffiti outside Pasar Seni train station).  China town / Little India is of course great to photograph, as it’s a jungle.  Don’t forget to look through cracks of doors, it’s amazing what you see!  But I think my favourite is going out, in my neighbourhood, SS2 PJ, at 7am around my back streets and market, people are walking their dogs, breakfast is being delivered, kids are arguing on the way to the school bus, incense is being lit and there is a lovely pinkish (pollution?!) light reflected on the sides of houses.  I’m a sucker for ‘beginnings’, hence the constant moving around, so this is my favourite part of the day. I also love around Port Dickson as I’ve a strange fascination with slightly crumbling seaside towns, no matter what country!  This time next year the favourite places to photograph will be as long as my arm, promise!

Rebecca Viveash Photography

That’s a promise I hope you keep {and come back to share}!
{ Viveash Photography }
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Pamela permalink
    November 14, 2014 12:35 pm

    What a great article that breaks down into little pieces all the ingredients that contribute to this talented lady’s magic! Not just another boring article about photography!

  2. November 15, 2014 10:54 am

    This is a lovely post – love the photos and the insights into her work. Ladies of Jakarta looks really interesting, I wish we could see that here but I know it may be difficult. Looking forward to seeing some other KL related exibition!

    • November 15, 2014 11:00 am

      I whole heartedly agree! Thanks for your comment : )

  3. December 2, 2014 4:14 pm

    I enjoyed the article. How nice to hear Beck’s voice here. Loved the answer to the question #2! What a lovely photo of your family, too!!

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