In this age of technological wizardry, where everything is instantaneous and accessible and simplified in the form of step-by-step eHow To’s, it’s hard to maintain the mystery. You know how magician code strictly forbids industry insiders from revealing the secret tricks of the trade? Some things should be like that; less explanation and more visceral. Like a masterful illusionist, using a camera instead of a hat and white doves (or should I have said a rabbit?), photographer Renee Carey creates magical, luminous, sensual, breezy, beautiful, babe-filled worlds that one can only access through the portal she creates with light and lens. Splitting her time between Australia and California, Carey is a regular contributor to Yen and Oyster, has shot covers for a variety of art and fashion glossies including Cake Magazine and Dalliance, and also dabbles in the art  dream catcher construction (follow her on Instagram @reneecareydreamcatchers). We’ve been following her work for quite some time, frequently fanning out on her tomboyish editorials that capture the tough and rebellious spirit of girl culture. Renee was kind enough to participate in a Q&A with us, as well as to send along some recent photos of her sister Shenay (one of the perks of being related to a model). For more of Renee Carey’s visual journey, visit reneecarey.com 

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Hi Renee. 

Renee Carey: Hey miss Jane, how are you?

I’m well! Excited to be chatting with you. We absolutely love your photography.

RC: Thanks for the write up, you are insanely talented with your words.

Well, thank you! (Editor’s note: Compliment party for two, please!) I’ve always been really attracted to your photography because it seems to capture this elusive balance of hard/soft/feminine/androgynous/carefree/angsty. What are some themes within your work that you’re really conscious of and deliberately trying to produce?

RC: I guess a lot of my work is subconsciously created in its own way like you explained, but never really gets brought to my attention until someone brings it up. I just go with what feels good to me. I do find that I usually prefer juxtaposition. I think that a photo is supposed to create a feeling, and a strong sense of style. And for personal projects, I like to create something that makes my mind drift off somewhere strange.

How did you get into photography?

RC: Well, most members of my family are artists, and I knew I had to live with a creative outlet of some sort. I always felt I could think up things and ideas that were out of the norm. I cannot draw for the life of me, so when I was young, I started playing around with photography, which developed into a passion, and now I won’t accept any other way for myself and my career.

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What camera do you shoot with?

RC: These days mostly a Contax, and sometimes my big dawg Canon 5dii. Both have the right moments to shine.

Who is your muse?

RC: My sister, Shenay

What’s your favorite season?

RC: Spring. The colors, freshness, temperatures, nature, energy in the air from the blooming season. It’s magical.

Besides the obvious, what’s the best part about photographing beautiful women?

RC: I like seeing the variety in these beautiful women. I love watching the way each of them carries themselves and acts, their uniqueness, some that are shy and kept and some you instantly want to go out and have drinks with after. It’s like all these beautiful creatures come into your life for a day or some for years to come, and it’s interesting to me to capture their one-of-a-kind beauty. Not to look at them so much from a commercial-tool point of view, but more so as these beautiful, interesting, unique humans, and how they’ve come to be who they are, and to try and to show that through images mixed with fashion and good styling. The character of the model has everything to do it.

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What’s your dream photography assignment?

RC: That’s a hard one, Jane. I don’t think I could come up with just one. Just to keep shooting creatively for my favourite labels and magazines is really the dream.

Because we encourage the feeling of feelings, what music do you listen to when you want to cry?

RC: Jane, I don’t want to make myself cry! Haha. But I do love to listen to music that makes you feel something that’s so moody and emotional. We, as humans, need to feel that more. I reckon, my first though would be old blues. I’m a huge blues fan. And then there’s your Beach House, James Blake, Twin Sister, Active Child, Mazy Star, Cat Power, Dirty Beaches, Conan & The Mockasins…

And what about when you feel like dancing?

RC: Something that gets me going. Firstly, anything deep house. My dad raised me listening to house music, so I can’t help but love it. It’s such a varied list- Brian Jonestown Massacre, Little Dragon, Boris Bretja, Nicolas Jaar, Justin Martin, Austra, Deerhunter, The Cramps…so many. I should stop here I suppose.

Books or ebooks?

RC: Books 100%, I don’t think I’ve even seen an ebook. I like to see a physical form of something I’m trying to digest; words, pictures, anything.

Three must-read magazines?

RC: JUNK Magazine, Monster Children, Oyster

(below photos by Renee Carey for Oyster)

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First three photos of Shenay shot by Renee Carey for Cultist
Last three photos shot by Renee Carey for Oyster

Jane Helpern

About Jane Helpern

Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com