Member in Focus | Karien Mulder

Updated on Sunday, July 13 2014

Karien Mulder is a freelance multimedia artist and designer based in Dubai Media City.  After leaving high school, Karien studied graphic design at the North West University in South Afica, but always had a major passion for fine arts, specifically painting. She decided to make a change and move to the small town of Langebeen on the West Coast of South Africa to pursue this passion. It was here where Karien started to explore photography. She joined a few group exhibitions and held a couple of solo exhibitions in Langebaan.

Driven by the idea behind what media could do, Karien moved to Pretoria to learn more about the moving image and photography and how to combine this with painting. She studied multimedia at The Open Window School of Visual Communication, earning a BA Hons in Visual Communication. Since moving to the UAE, Karien’s work has become more conceptual with more compositing and fine art photography, demonstrating her love for photography and painting.  

1. What sparked your interest in photography?
We had some fantastic lecturers during my studies that encouraged students to use their own (instead of stock) photography in our design projects, which encouraged us to shoot weekly and this was my initial spark in photography. Photography also formed an integral part of the filmmaking process, which was my main focus at that time.  The things I learned most from my photography lecturer (Anne Lize van Niekerk) was to learn how to see light and learn the technical aspects of the medium.  My film lecturer (Pluto Panoussis) focused on developing the conceptual aspects of film (which translated to photography) and he also encouraged me to see all the aspects of my work as an extension of illustration and painting. I also did a fine art photography workshop during GPP 2014, with Brooke Shaden and this gave me the opportunity to learn more about compositing, refining concept and fine art photography, which has been my most recent inspiration spark.

2. When did you start shooting?
During my studies at The Open Window School for Visual Communication, which was from 2008 - 2011.

3. How often do you shoot?
I try to shoot one main conceptual image a week or work on a street / travel photography series which means I go to a market or place of interest to find a subject matter.

4. Why do you love photography?
I love photography because the medium is the sum of all my passions, such as the technical side of shooting, storytelling or the conceptual aspect of it as well as post-production / editing which I find extremely rewarding.  My favorite aspect of photography lies within the post-production / editing as this is where (for me) the magic happens.

5. What gear do you own?
I am currently shooting with various cameras such as the Canon 5D mark III, Lomokino, Dina F, GoPro, iPhone and a collection of old film and underwater cameras.

6. Other than your camera, what piece of equipment couldn’t you live without?
Besides the cameras I wouldn’t be able to live without my tripod, flashlight and a remote trigger release.

7. Who are your biggest influences as a photographer?
I am greatly influenced by painting, illustration and filmmaking that are the core influences in my work.  I am also a massive fan of Surrealism not only in the visual arts but also in photography and I like work by Claude Cahun (1894–1954), Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Maurice Tabard and Philippe Halsman.  Other photographers that inspire me are Ilse Bing (1899–1998), Dorothea Lange (1895–1965), Annie Leibovitz (born 1949), Margaret Bourke-White (1904–1971), Mary Ellen Mark (born 1940), Cindy Sherman (born 1954) and Sally Mann (born 1951).

8. What’s your best advice for someone starting out?
My advice to someone starting out is to start by learning the rules of the medium - all the technical aspects and to shoot as much as possible.  I also believe that each image should have a story and for this reason I would recommend carrying a notebook everywhere you go, to write down ideas or things that inspire you and then go out and try to make it happen.

9. Where can we see your work?
You can follow me on Instagram:
My blog: