Interview: Savana Ogburn on Colourful Photography, Calming Environments, and Tumblr as Inspiration

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Today's interview is with the absurdly talented photographer, Savana Ogburn, who creates fantastically fun and colourful images straight out of a fantasy world. She doesn't like to confine herself to one medium, finding inspiration online, and creating her own mood boards to get out of a creative rut. I absolutely love her series 'Identity Crisis', oozing some sort of twisted Hollywood glamour and garish shades. I could definitely see one hanging on my wall.

This will be my last interview of 2017, so have a happy and safe time surrounded by the ones you love and all of the best food! I'll be on hiatus at the beginning of 2018, but watch this space for new and shiny things for a new and shiny year...

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Savana! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, will you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Savana Ogburn:
Thank YOU for having me on your site! I’m a 19-year-old artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. I work in a variety of mediums, but my favorites are photography, set design, and collage.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your photography in three words, what would they be?

Savana Ogburn:
Colorful, wacky, and fun.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into photography? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Savana Ogburn:
I first picked up a camera seriously at age 12 or 13 and quickly fell in love with the shooting/editing process. I was taking the stereotypical shots that most photographers take at first (streetlights, flowers, dogs, etc), but quickly realized that I really loved photographing people and creating worlds in my work. I took a couple of photo classes in high school which were helpful, and I’m currently working on a BFA in photography at SCAD. However, I did teach myself the basics of photography and post-processing before I ever took any classes (just saying this to make a point that it’s totally doable!).


Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your photographs?

Savana Ogburn:
Honestly, I’ve been sharing my work from the get go. My family has always been very encouraging, so in the beginning I was sharing very freely on Facebook and Flickr, and continue to now on sites like Instagram and Tumblr. I’ll occasionally have a photo or two that I’m nervous to share for any number of reasons, but I think that’s pretty normal!

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Savana Ogburn:
I love Identity Crisis. It's an ongoing project, and I started it as a project for school earlier this year when a professor encouraged me to research Cindy Sherman after he saw some of my self portraiture. This was around the time that I was also starting to get into drag, so it seemed very natural to combine the interests and shoot some really wacky looks inspired by things I love! It’s a very freeing project to do because a lot of the time it’s just me in my bedroom putting on makeup at 1am and shooting self portraits. I love not being on a deadline and not having to answer to anyone (an editor, etc) with this project which also makes it fun for me.

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which photographers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Savana Ogburn:
My favorite photographer of all time is Tim Walker - his work is what initially got me interested in set design and continues to be one of my biggest inspirations. I also love Cindy Sherman, clearly, and Cecil Beaton. I’m also obsessed with Andy Warhol’s photography as of late.


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Savana Ogburn:
Sure! I can’t work in a chaotic environment, so I like things to be relatively neat and quiet when I’m editing or planning shoots. I love choosing music to listen to while editing based on what I want the images to feel like- I always find myself listening to Florence and the Machine when I’m editing something on the moodier side, and I also tend to listen to a lot of Top 40 and like, club music when I’m editing at night and trying to stay awake.



Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Savana Ogburn:
I typically try to work through it! I’ll look through images that I love (I keep a Tumblr that I use as a running moodboard and to keep track of things that I like), make a moodboard, and start working on a concept. When that doesn’t work I like to print out photos (ones that I took or just images that I love), and cut them up and draw on them until I make something I like. I just try to allow myself to create freely and without worrying if the product will look good on my Instagram or whatever.

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Savana Ogburn:
I love reading when I can, I also like watching a couple TV shows (I’m a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway, as well as Parks and Rec, Broad City, 30 Rock, SNL, and shows in that vein). I’m also obsessed with my friends and love hanging out with them as much as possible.


Magic & Musings:
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

Savana Ogburn:
I have an agenda from Bando that is my literal everything. I always joke that it’s my external hard drive and that I don’t keep any information in my actual brain, but instead in the agenda. It keeps me super organized and helps me prioritize. I also have a steno notepad that I write down ideas, sketch, and plan shoots in. Both of those are always on me! Digitally, I have a few external hard drives that I use to backup and organize work and they are invaluable to me.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in a medium other than photography? Is this something you would consider in the future?

Savana Ogburn:
Yes! I make so much art and would hate to be confined to just one medium. Photography is the medium that I’m most comfortable in and love the most but I have a huge love for set design (sculpture, hi!), collage, and illustration (which I’ve dabbled in as well but am nowhere near being good at it!). I also love zines and they’re a huge part of my work as well.

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a photographer?

Savana Ogburn:
To not confine myself to a particular style. When I first started shooting seriously I was very into Flickr and the community of conceptual fine art photographers there (some of which I still keep up with and love), and when I would take a picture that didn’t fit the “moody fine art” look, I would disregard it even if it was a good picture. Which is really lame! I think it’s important to let yourself play in a variety of styles and mediums so that you can find what you really like doing.


Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Savana Ogburn:
I recently read David Sedaris’s Squirrel Seeking Chipmunk and it was hilarious and lighthearted, but also pertinent to what’s going on in the world right now. He’s my favorite author ever. I don’t watch movies very often, but I do listen to a lot of music—I’m currently loving Allie X’s CollXtion II as well as Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Magic & Musings:
I also really like David Sedaris, and Courtney Barnett is absolutely wonderful!
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Savana Ogburn:
My work is on www.savanaogburn.com as well as www.instagram.com/savanaogburn, and everything important is posted on those two pages. In the next few months, all of the work I’ve made this summer should be making its way out into the world (eeeep!), and I’m headed back to school so I’m sure there’s lots of fun new stuff to come. I’m excited!

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