Catherine Just creates visceral photographs. For me they are infused with the soul wether it is her soul or the soul of the client she is capturing. There is often a simplistic nature in the composition and yet a very complex story being told. I had seen her portraits of Danielle LePorte as well as Carrie-Anne Moss over the years and then more recently saw her work showing up as friends profile photographs. She seemed to pop up all over the place these last few months. She is a very dear and light filled soul and I am blessed to have her view on Process, Sacred, Intuition and Visual Poetry!
Hi there! Thanks so much for having me be a part of this interview series!
I’m Catherine Just and I’m the proud mama to my 6 year old son Max who happens to have Down syndrome. I’m a photographer, artist, mentor and entrepreneur. I consider myself a conceptual photographer. I teach classes online and lead workshops in my home. I also do creative portraiture for high profile clients who need to elevate their brand or product.
Lets start with the most fundamental question: What do you create? Why do you create?
It depends on the project. Right now I’m working on a series of self portraits that are all taken with either my iPhone or my sx-70 Polaroid camera that have to do with what’s going on underneath the surface of my personal life. My work has always been conceptual in nature. Meaning, I use this form of creativity as a way to dig down deep into the internal / emotional / sensory / intuitive realms and create something visual out of something that you can’t put words to. I try to give voice to something that’s there but not necessarily visible to the eye. I use metaphor, objects, symbolism, with images of myself with long exposures and blur in alternative environments to express these spaces that live in between words. (( or in-between worlds ))
If the project involves a speaker, author, high profile celebrity, we collaborate on ideas and I use the camera as a tool to connect with their soul. It’s not just a headshot or a pretty photo of someone. I want to really get at who they are from the inside out.
I read you say: “I’ll be creating some sort of visual poetry related to this extraordinary role of mine in his life.” Visual poetry. This art isn’t just a career it seems you are also a adventurer and a healer using this medium. Is this true? Can you elaborate on the personal growth and spiritual side of your art making?
Yes, I see my work as visual poetry. Getting inside of a situation and creating something with deeper meaning than just a description of it. I’ve been working in this way for the last 27 years. In the beginning, I was very insecure and had a difficult time socially. Photography was a way for me to express visually what was hard for me to express verbally. It was healing for me to process my relationships, my spirituality, the world around me through this medium of photography. I find that this work is a miracle for me. It saved me from my own dis-ease and as I continue with this work I love sharing this process with others as another tool for transformation in their own lives. I work both intuitively and with written out plans and find that once the art process starts, there are 3 of us involved. myself, my camera and something else that cannot be named really. Spirit maybe?
Whatever it is there is magic in the actual process of making the art. It’s an extraordinary process.
What would you say are the major inspirations for what you create?
My own personal life situations. Personal relationships. Connections. Loss. Deep emotional Pain or Joy. I got sober from a crystal meth addiction when I was 18 years old and the photography process started right after that. So living in the world without “leaving” is what inspires me to dive into the photography process. It’s where I go to figure things out, heal, grow, express, process, understand, take apart, dive in and not harm myself or anyone else in the process.
What does Sacred mean to you? What does it feel like, look like, Where is your sacred place?
Sacred is being present for the moments that matter. Being Sober is Sacred. Being fully IN my life without doing anything to check out or “take the edge off”. My life is sacred. Being with my son is sacred when I’m really present. Slowing down to notice how the light is wrapping itself around your life.
The camera can help me shift from my mind back to the present moment and into my heart.
Photography and any other creative process is sacred. Connection with the spiritual realms. Certain energy, Home, Family, Friends, Nature, Seasons, Process, Being awake, Waking up, Every moment of choice is sacred.
Intuition the mother of our hearts! How has your intuition led you here, Where you stand today? Where is it leading you? What is it whispering?
Intuition is everything.
I haven’t been the type to have a master plan for my life. When I was using drugs I thought that being 30 years old equaled death. I’m heading towards 47 this year and I feel more alive and full of possibility than I did when I was younger. So I really don’t take my thoughts too seriously. Or at least I try not to. I go with my “gut” in any moment. I do have friends that I reach out to when I’m confused or suffering trying to make up my mind about something. And then in the end I just go with what feels right to me. Even if it ends up being the “wrong path” I definitely learn something from it and it informs my next steps in life so “wrong” is relative. My intuition is whispering to keep going with the personal project I’m working on, to apply for the grant that’s in my inbox, to learn as much as I can about photography and the fine art world. It’s whispering that all is well, keep going.
What supports your authentic self? Your true expression of yourself?
I don’t know of anything right now that doesn’t support my authentic self. I set myself up for success that way. I have very little tolerance for drama and in authentic people or situations so I steer clear. I value self preservation and set myself up for situations and relationships that nurture that. I honestly don’t stick around long if I sense something isn’t quite feeling right to me. Even if I can’t put my finger on it. It just doesn’t serve me or the other person if it’s not authentic.
My true expression of myself is always changing in every moment. My true expression of myself is always being revealed to me as I connect with my spiritual practice, kundalini yoga and meditation. The Toltec path helped me get much more clear on the areas where I was suffering and why I was suffering ( my thoughts and beliefs cause all of my suffering ) so doing that important work and detaching from those things that cause me to suffer provides me with ways to be more true. Creativity, Dancing with my son, snuggling with him, laughing, treating myself really well with healthy food. I don’t eat wheat, dairy or processed sugar and I notice a huge difference in how I can show up in the world. I don’t drink caffeine and that made a big difference as well to stop artificially activating energy reserves. Now I get high on natural things like green juice, great friendship, the process of creativity, loving my son, eating healthy, treating myself really well, being curious about life, exploring spiritual connection.
Lastly, tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Right in this moment I plan to notice it, breathe deeply, celebrate my life and my son’s life. I plan to explore my creativity and share it with others. I plan to learn how to love myself even more deeply and love others as well. How to be a true friend. First to myself and then to everyone around me. My dream is to continue to raise my vibration and to help others expand as well. Love how the light hits your soul.
She is also offering an online eCourse called “The Daily Miracle” which is a 30 day photo project that helps us return to seeing the sacred in our every day.
That’s the miracle. The shift that occurs when we look through the lens and wake up to this moment. It’s not always what we think it is. Find out more HERE!