Session 3: Tatum Shaw


For this dröm session, we put the spotlight on photographer, Tatum Shaw. 
Currently residing in Portland, Oregon, he shoots on both analogue and digital platforms. Some of his works include photo contributions in Nylon Magazine, Oregon Tourism, and Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek magazine. In this interview, he shares with us a few of of his favorite things, and also what inspires him.


Von Tundra for Nylon Magazine. Von Tundra is an American design house specializing in the creation of contemporary furniture, fixtures, installations, and interiors


Hello there Tatum, please introduce yourself.

I’m Tatum Shaw. I’m a photographer.


How did photography became a part of who you are, what started your passion in photography?


I’ve been taking pictures since college, but it wasn’t until after college, at a portfolio school for advertising, that I came to understand composition and what makes a good image. After that, I began taking pictures in a whole new way. When I got out of school, I began work at an advertising agency and was exposed to all kinds of photographers. I learned about film and cameras and decided I wanted to give photography more serious attention. All it took was for a few images to come out really nice to convince me that this was something I could do.

What is the driving force behind your craft? What makes you pick up your camera and decide on what makes a shot?

It’s usually something that strikes me as odd. A composition. A color pattern. A pose. Certain lighting. Those are my favorite shots to get. Weird little visuals that present themselves in the day to day. I like capturing them for myself and then sharing them for other people to see.



You are currently residing in Portland, Oregon, can you describe your surroundings and environment from where you live? Does it inspire you in any way?


Portland, for the most part, is dark and rainy. I rarely pick up my camera here except for the few summer months of sunshine. That’s why you’ll see most of my photos are taken in the south, when I’m visiting home, or when I’m traveling away for my job. A lot of them take place in Los Angeles, where I go for work a lot.


Tatum had his first ever solo photo show at the Wieden + Kennedy gallery on January 5 2012.

Could you name us some of your favorite spots/ shops/ cafes/ eateries in Portland, could you introduce them to us?


Ampersand. There’s no photo/art book store like it. Extremely well curated shop with monthly installations, as well as vintage art finds. Everything from old mug shot photos to scientific textbook illustrations.



DOC. My favorite restaurant. Small place with a kitchen in the front. You meet the cooks as you walk in. They you drink amazing wines and fresh food.



PokPok. Vietnamese street food. I crave it twice a week.

We see that you also shoot using Polaroids, 35mm films, together with large and medium formats. If tight deadlines weren’t a priority, would you have preferred shooting on analogue film/film cameras as opposed to digital and why?


So far I’ve been lucky that all my paying jobs have let me shoot film. It’s what I prefer. Digital, to me, is just cold and clinical. I don’t feel anything with it. Even if I see a digital image I like, it’s usually been reworked in post to look like film.

What are some of your favorite tool/object from our studio, things that you love very much?


Well, I don’t have a studio. I have an office in my house with high ceilings, a skylight, and a leather couch. It looks out into my back yard. I like going from my computer at my desk to my couch with a book or art book, and then back again. My favorite tool from my studio would be my Contax camera.


Tatum Shaw’s favourite camera


Part of Tatum Shaw’s office

Do you have an all time favorite Tatum Shaw photo/creation/project? 


There are a couple early shots of mine. The dollhouse in my Etowah series, and the cigarette in the hand from behind a pole I shot in New York. I like those because they were two of the first images I shot on film. When I saw them, I thought, “This is what I want to do. This is what I want all my pictures to look like.” They kind of set the tone for my voice.


dollhouse from the Etowah series


Lastly, is there anything that you can say to encourage all new/aspiring photographer out there?


Keep going. Don’t get discouraged. It took me years to figure out what makes a good image. I know a lot of talented people who pick up a camera for a few months, but then put it back down because they get frustrated. They could be so good. I still keep a Flickr page. All my early stuff is on there, even the crappy old 4mb digital shots. I was pretty bad. I just kept at it.



A shot inside Inventory magazine store during his Vancouver visit.