Tytia Habing

Interviewed by F-Stop Magazine


F-Stop: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?

Tytia Habing: I’ve always been a late bloomer with everything I’ve done in life, and this is no different. It was by accident really. I was in the process of getting my second university degree at the age of twenty-nine, this one in landscape architecture, the first in horticulture, and I needed an elective to fill up my schedule. I thought a photography class might be fun, so I signed up. My older brother graduated with a photography degree and it had always interested me. Little did I know, it would consume me and I would spend every spare second in the darkroom. I won a couple university photography competitions and was hooked! I promptly bought all my own darkroom equipment and set up my own darkroom in my tiny bathroom. After graduation I shipped it all down to the Cayman Islands where I had previously been living and continued to spend a whole lot of time in the darkroom. I eventually went digital but I still miss film and being in a darkroom. There really isn’t anything like film and watching your image appear in your developing tray. At the moment, I’m fixing up an old house I own with my mom and I’m going to make it into a studio and darkroom.


F-Stop: How did the project “This is Boy” come about?

TY: Being a photographer, I naturally photographed my son since his birth and the project came about organically. One day I was going through all the images and thought, “Wow, I have a project here.” I envy those photographers that think up a project and execute it. Mine seem to come about in more organic ways. I do have a couple in the works that I’ve thought out beforehand and am in the process of shooting now. We’ll see how that goes.

F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images? Do you make them as a moment arises in your day to day life or do you plan for or set up scenes or situations to photograph?

TY: I never set up a scene. It’s not that I haven’t tried a few times in the past. For me, or my son, it just doesn’t work. The images look forced and awkward. It’s all natural.

The Barn Burning

F-Stop: How do you choose what to photograph, what are you looking to capture?

TY: I’m looking for spontaneity and naturalness. While I love jumping, kicking and playing, the spontaneity doesn’t necessarily need to be exuberant. It can be him picking up a worm and inspecting it or that he’s decided to lie down in the woods and look at the trees sway in the wind. Children have such a natural connection to nature. It’s amazing really. I rarely shoot indoors. Nature is so much more interesting.

F-Stop: How has photographing your son impacted your relationship with him? For example does he like being photographed, does he come up with ideas for pictures, does he ignore that you are photographing him …

TY:All of those things! If I want to photograph him, he doesn’t want me to. If I’m not photographing him, he’ll ask me too. He’ll occasionally come up with his own ideas, but mostly, he ignores me, and that works perfect for what I’m trying to capture. He does ask me not to bring my camera sometimes and I grudgingly oblige.


F-Stop: How does your son relate to the images of him and his life, does he look at them?

TY: He could care less. He has zero interest in looking at them.

F-Stop: What do you want people to experience or think about when they look at these photographs?

TY: I want parents and kids both to see there is more to life than sitting in the house on an iPad, watching television or playing video games. That’s not what life is about. It’s an easy crutch to fall into. Life is about experiencing new things, having adventures, even if it’s in your own backyard. And that’s not to say we don’t watch our share of TV and have arguments about too much video game playing, because we absolutely do! It’s a battle of balance.

F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in the series? If so, which one and why is it the image that stands out to you most?

TY: This is a difficult question. I feel affection for all of them but there is one that I really gravitate towards. It’s a quiet photo that I don’t think most would notice. It’s of my son when he was I think three. He’s holding a huge bunch of Rhubarb from my mom’s garden and peaking out from behind them. The light on the rhubarb leaves and on my son is luminous but I don’t think that’s necessarily why I love it. I think I love it because it could’ve been a photo of me when I was young or even of my mom or dad or my grandma or even great grandma as children. We all have or had rhubarb in our gardens. So I suppose it’s the nostalgia that makes me love it.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. I constantly get comments from the older generation when they view my photos, about how they remember doing that as a child or how they remember their children playing outside like that. It makes me feel good because that’s what I’m going for. It’s funny though that I rarely get comments like that from people my age or younger. A changing of the times I suppose, but maybe not necessarily a good change.

Star Wars

F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?

TY: I am and I’m glad you asked. I recently finished a book collaboration with my good friend Kristianne Koch-Riddle, which includes images from This is Boy. We’ve just started pre-sales.

I’ve also embarked on a couple different environmentally inspired projects which I’m very excited about. The state of the environment and how we humans treat it is appalling and I have a lot to say about that. It seems to me to be the biggest hurdle us humans have to face, yet it’s pushed aside in the media in favor of wars here or there or worse yet, celebrity happenings. It’s sad, and I’m sure I’m not the only person to feel downright terrified for their child’s future. The earth, nature, is a gift, and we’re not showing proper gratitude to this amazing gift we’ve been given. We’re being terrible stewards.

Lord of the Flies

F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?

TY:Oh boy, where oh where to begin. There are so many and I see more every day! There is so much talent out there it’s frightening. I’ll attempt to name just a few…

Sally Mann: She’s a favorite of many, many photographers, and with good reason. Her images stop me dead in my tracks, and her printing is out of this world. I would love to see one of her prints in person. Or better yet to own one!

Diane Arbus: I love strange and she’s the queen of strange in my book. Emmet Gowin: He photographed what he loved and you can see that in each of his images. Most of his photographs where in nature and I have a great affinity for that.

I also love beautiful dreamlike, black and white images. Susan Burnstine, Tami Bone, Angela-Bacon Kidwell and Emma Powell do such beautiful, dreamy work. I actually own an image from Angela and it’s gorgeous!

And last but certainly not least is a friend of mine, Kristianne Koch-Riddle. I greatly admire her and her work. She’s been an amazing friend and mentor to me and is off the charts talented. Her water images are so inspiring. She has a way of making a person feel like they’re right there in the photograph. I can almost feel the swaying sailboat beneath my feet, the sand beneath my toes and the water enveloping me. Funnily enough, we have yet to meet in person, but we will. I have no doubt of that.

Artists other than photographers are plentiful too. I’m a huge fan of music, films and books. There really are too many to name though. To keep this from getting completely out of hand I’ll name just a couple.

Music: Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson. Eddie Vedder has a voice you cannot ignore. Powerful, just like his lyrics. And Jack Johnson’s music is so soothing. The lyrics make you happy and nostalgic. Film: Wes Anderson. I’m completely and utterly obsessed with his films. I could and do watch them over and over. You see and hear something new every time. The cinematography is so quirky and unique. Books: So, so many but I read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over and over when I was younger. He created such a fantastical, believable world.

Having said all that, my greatest inspiration is the natural world around me and my family, especially my son and my mom. My son is a force to be reckoned with and pretty much everything he does inspires me. My mom is an amazing artist herself. You could put any artistic endeavor in front of her and she could do it. She thrives in the art of cooking, baking and mostly at gardening. Her gardens are amazing.

See "This Is Boy" on F-Stop HERE.