Looking Down From Up: Robert Kautuk

By November 7, 2019Feature

Robert Kautuk Untitled (2019) COURTESY THE ARTIST

In this short interview with IAQ Senior Editor John Geoghegan, Kangiqtugaapik-based artist Robert Kautuk talks photography and technology. 

John Geoghegan: How did you become interested in photography?

Robert Kautuk: As I child growing up I didn’t really have a lot to do because our community is pretty small, so I got into photography that way, playing around when I was bored. I worked with disposable film, so I had to send the photos out to be developed and then wait to get them shipped back in.

JG: What is your favourite subject to photograph?

RK: Mostly landscape—that’s almost all I do. I really like shooting the northern lights, because it’s dark and so it takes planning, which I enjoy doing. Well, it takes time beforehand but, then again, it’s also spur of the moment. When I step out the door, I see the lights and then I almost always have my gear ready to just head out.

JG: Do you do any photography at the workplace?

RK: I do. I mostly do I.T. services, but I am also the photographer for Ilisaqsivik Society. Whenever they have certain programs and need to have some photos taken out on the land, they ask me. When we have staff events or activities like that, I also take the photos.

JG: You use cutting-edge technology in your work, such as drones. How did you start working with those?

RK: While working with Ilisaqsivik Society as their photographer, I had the opportunity of working with other photographers and filmmakers who came to the community, and from there, people started bringing in drones for work, and that’s how I got involved with flying them. I have one of my own and our office has two more. I like drone photography because it’s a different technique, a different point of view. So many angles are available now because of easily accessible drones, and the camera equipment is always improving.

Robert Kautuk Untitled (2016) COURTESY THE ARTIST

JG: Are there any projects you would like to do, or any places you would like to photograph?

RK: I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit around the world. One of my favourite places to shoot was Greenland. It’s a different landscape than ours, and it feels like home because of the weather, and the people speak Inuktitut. I’ve also been to British Columbia, to Prague, and at the end of this month I’ll be going to Finland and Romania.

JG: Is there anyone in particular who has supported you and your photography?

RK: She is not a photographer, but Shari Fox has been supportive. I’ve worked with her for most of my photography career. Alex Taylor has been really great with drone stuff. Whenever I have any questions about drone techniques I’ve been learning from him.

Learn more about Robert Kautuk at his IAQ Profile.

This interview is part of our Emerging Arctic Photographers Spotlight, in collaboration with Gallery 44’s online exhibit Looking Down From Up.

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