Interview With . . .
by Alyssa Laube
About: After a ten year break from journalism, Catherine Coulter is making her grand return to writing and the arts. She focuses on photography and writing, but has a wide variety of other hobbies and interests. You can view Catherine’s work at:
In the past, you worked as a journalist. What was that like? (i.e.: who you worked for, what you wrote about)
I wrote for the North Shore News but my first position was at the Williams Lake Tribune. I was staff at those two papers but I freelanced for a number of other newspapers and magazines. I covered court, fashion, school board, sports, food and wine: that’s the beauty of a community paper – a reporter gets to try everything! (Note: this is weird. I’ve never been interviewed before.)
What encouraged you to move on from journalism?
Seeing myself satisfied personally and professionally in the future.
Could you tell me about the 10-year break you took from it?
Marriage, motherhood, travel, philanthropy, personal and spiritual growth.
In this time, did you stop writing completely? How did you get your creative fix?
I wrote journals for years, and experimented with my photography, trying different kinds of cameras and using a lot of film.
Are you glad that you took that break? What came from it?
I’m glad I stopped writing for newspaper. I missed the human interest stories, but writing news did and does not fit my character.
What encouraged you to come back to it?
Basically working away at myself emotionally and discovering what really makes me happy!
Please tell me about your trip to Turkey! How did it effect you?
Just seeing the word Turkey makes my heart burst! I turned 40 the day I landed in Istanbul this past November. I was ready for a journey alone and 40 seemed the perfect ‘excuse’. I experienced a real upheaval in my life a few years prior and it was the first opportunity since that that I got to be alone, process and heal and I did so by writing and taking pictures. There were moments on that trip where I would be sitting with my journal on my lap, my cameras lying around me, my cheeks would be flush and my boots dusty from a day of hiking and photographing, and I knew I was just where I should be doing what I should be doing. That feeling is incredibly powerful and I came home wanting to share it with everyone. And, eventually, provide an opportunity to host similar trips (stay tuned).
Before your work as a journalist, what jobs did you have?
Terrible waitress and amazing nanny!
What hobbies have you had throughout your life and in present day? How did they shape who you are?
I’ve played on the same soccer team for 15 years. My son and I are avid skiers. I hike. We love our cruiser bike rides in the summer (my Mothers Day gift to me a few years ago: a 1968 Schwinn Starlet!), being in and on the water, spending as much time with our friends and family doing anything and nothing. We are blessed. I am what my life is today.
Why did you start each of them?
Landing in India at 22 years old was the catalyst for everything.
As a book lover, which ones are in your top 3? Which are you reading right now?
Eek! Top 3?! How about top 30?! Currently, I’m reading The Rise, Annabel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants (my son is 7!).
How have books changed you as an artist?
Oh good question! Visualization.
Why do you believe you love stationary, letters, and other sentimental objects?
Letter writing is art to me – its expression and its thought. The process of choosing a beautiful piece of paper – the colours and textures – then scrawling across it with an ink pen…So beautiful! Plus, the feeling it gives someone to receive something so carefully prepared for them. I will never forget what it looks like or how it feels to see my Dad’s handwriting – it’s like being close enough to smell the soap he uses.
How would you describe yourself as a person and an artist? How do these descriptions compare?
There’s no difference in the two. Compassion, full of love and humour, quirky and rooted, curious.
Why do you love photography? Writing?
They are both so intimate to me, and give me an opportunity to express and explore myself safely, clearly and without criticism or judgement (until now, of course!).
Do you have any training in either of these fields?
I attended Western Academy of Photography and Journalism on Vancouver Island.
How are the two different, in as many ways as possible? How are they the same?
I suppose to me it’s like watching a movie and reading the book. The story is being told in two different ways yet if done well each should be as visual as the other. So, although they are different ways to tell a story, a story is still being told.
Other than signing up for the expo, how are you practicing leaving your comfort zone?
I feel like I’ve put an invitation out there that leads directly inside. To reach my goal, which is helping other women with growth through art and travel, it’s important I’m available and a bit vulnerable (my M.O.: lets all get comfortable with vulnerability!).
What are you hoping to gain from this year’s expo?
Monika (Blichar) has been an amazing source of inspiration and encouragement for me (and many others) so it’s really about goals and fulfillment, and getting past some insecurities. She asked me a few months ago, “If money is no object, what do you see yourself doing?” It was such an easy question for me to answer that I hadn’t put to myself.
As a photographer, what do you like to focus on?
People in their environments.
Which effects do you like to use?
Well I don’t really use any actually. The reason I love film is because, if you haven’t gotten the right exposure and focus well that’s that. It’s tough to recapture the original moment. I love holding my breath getting film back thinking ‘Oh crap. This will be awesome or it’s $50 down the drain!’ And I have had some amazing results and some seriously disappointing ones. With the exception of a couple of iPhone snaps I basically came home with zero pictures from last year’s spring break in Mexico. I had taken only my mini Diana and my film was tangling up like nylons out of a washing machine – so much for cataloging that trip for my son! It’s the same for digital though. I’m fairly challenged when it comes to electronics/technology. My strengths lie in my ability to connect with all kinds of people no matter what their background.
Do you often have a message incorporated into your photography?
There’s a theme, for sure. I’m fascinated by women in their environments. In school, I did a photo essay of an exotic dancer – I still find those pictures interesting. I photographed her getting ready and a small part of the performance, literally one or two shots before I wrapped it up. (The performance wasn’t telling the story though, in my opinion.) I’m always amazed that, if we truly want to, despite our differences – religious, cultural, language barriers – we can find some common ground or ways to communicate. Whether its through our children, a broken heart, an illness, or passion for travel or art or music, a great success, literature, or a few bottles of wine and a dance off!
How did your childhood influence you as an artist?
Everything has brought me to where I am now, both good and bad, and has taught me to be observant, interested, thoughtful and sensitive.
What do you hope to do in the future, both in your personal and professional life?
“Keep on keeping on like a bird that flew…”- B. Dylan