Tim Tadder Shares What Inspired Him to Shoot One of His Most Popular Series

After we published the post about Tim Tadder’s Dia de los Muertos series going viral,  many people reached out wondering what inspired him to create the project.  So, I asked him.  Here is what he had to say.

“When I was an aspiring photographer I often pointed my camera towards the sun to capture the cliche’d sunset. Everyone loves pretty pictures right? Fast forward hundreds of sunsets later, I am in the midst of my masters degree in photojournalist, and a National Geographic photographer is flipping through my portfolio, and lands on a beautiful image of a frozen river at sunset. I never forgot what happened next. Sighing, he turned and uttered, “its your job to make ugly beautiful, not the other way around.”

Ouch, no sugar coating that zinger. But its could not have had a better impact on how I began to see the world differently. I challenged myself to see the beauty in the perceived mundane. As photographers we should challenge ourselves to make images where most people see nothing. Such is the case with our recent Las Muertas project. In 2014 wild fires ripped through our community and for months I drove by scorched earth. But in that ugly I knew there was a beautiful project, I just was not sure what it would be.

On Halloween as the ghouls and goblins paraded through the neighborhoods the concept materialized, and Las Muertas was born. For the next month we studied the traditions of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos, and found that out scorched earth would be the perfect setting to depict the visiting of past spirits. Its eerie charred beauty matched perfectly with the designs of the traditional Dia De Los Muertos dress. during our production research we found LA based sculpture artist Krisztianna that made the most incredible Dia De Los Muertos art pieces. I new she was the perfect person to elevate this project and I needed her help. Fortunately, when called her, she was a fan of our Water Wigs project and instantly on board.

Next came the need for amazing vintage wardrobe. Enter the fabulous Julia Reeser, a San Diego based stylist that is bound for stardom, no joke this girl is legit, and is every bit as passionate about styling as I am about great images. Great Location, great props and wardrobe, leave it to my amazing producer Dahlia Synder to find the right faces and all I need to do was show up and light it.

This series is something I am really excited about. A great group of people came together and worked really hard to make something beautiful out of something most people see as ugly.

To see the entire series, please link here.


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