Zeitgeist: Katie BretDay

Katie BretDay is one of the winners of the Zeitgeist awards in CR’s Photography Annual 2018. The awards recognises rising stars of the photography world; artists who have captured the mood and our imaginations this past year

Katie BretDay started taking photos at an early age, inheriting an unwanted manual camera from her sister when she was ten. Later, she spent time in the darkroom – “basically an old utility cupboard with an enlarger” – at her school, learning more about the physical and tangible process of developing film. “Not many people have that experience of imagemaking these days, especially at such a young age,” she says. “That was formative in how I’ve gone on to understand the photographic image.”

This close relationship with process has shaped BretDay’s work, which blends traditional methods of printing, such as cyanotype, with hand-cutting and painting. She starts by shooting digitally, often in her room with a sheet and tripod, and using herself as a model – a decision she describes as an opportunity to gain back control of the gaze, particularly considering the often uncomfortable relationship between women and the camera.