Kaat Stieber: ‘I have more ideas than time to realise them all’

12 apr, 2022


Kaat Stieber, fine art photographer, was born on a Dutch island. She travelled a lot during her life and her extensive experience in the field of theatre helped Kaat to create incredible images that are inspired by the worlds of surrealism and noble Dutch art.

«Kaat Stieber’s main mission within the art industry is to create painterly pictures. Working from her imagination, she combines crafts such as photography, costume making, concepting ideas, directing and over twenty years of experience in theatre into one rich final product» — this paragraph from Kaat's page depicts her style deeply. The images created by Stieber are super remarkable.

We spoke with Kaat about her art.


Kaat, how did your journey in photography start?

This year it's been 10 years since I finished a photography course. To be frank, I have photographed during all my life or near, but to become a real photographer in my own eyes I found it necessary to have a diploma in my pocket.

I want to mention that it was a rather long way to find a photographer in myself.

When I started, my private life was very restless. It took some time until I had my own life back and until I recalled the reason why had I chosen photography.

I already worked in the theatre on stage, essentially I went on until 2 years ago.

Right now my head is always full of ideas, right now I want to bring my images differently. I am no longer on stage but I am a photographer.

How did you find that very genre?

I didn't really look for a genre. It just suits my needs the best. Photography is a way to tell my own stories. Anything I can't photograph because it isn't possible at that moment, I can create with the combination of images on the computer.

The fact that I can convert imaginative pictures coming just to my head into real images and that I can show them to people is very gratifying.

When these works find response from the viewer and are appreciated, it is even more valuable.

Your works are full of Dutch art. Who are your favourite painters?

I like classical painting. My mother always took me to museums in my childhood and that shaped me.

I admire the expertise the old masters had in the past with fewer resources.

I definitely appreciate Rembrandt for his portraits, but he is certainly not the only one.

I also marvel at paintings by Vermeer, Jan Davidsz de Heem, Jeroen Bosch, Albert Cuyp and more.

The costume design at your works impresses a lot. How do you get it?

I am a former costume designer. My costumes had no limitations earlier, and today they can be even better. Besides, as I can also edit clothing in post production if necessary, there are no longer any imaginable restrictions at all.

I like to use elements that I come across in my travels or noticed in the surrounding nature. I usually choose colour palettes that complement each other or “ton sur ton”.

It sounds like the preproduction is really more complicated than the shooting itself.

The preparation is usually the longest process. The image is born just in my head, so I have to collect the elements that go with it. I should think about the costumes, the model, the landscape and objects that will participate in the photo shoot.

And then everything comes together during the survey. This makes me extra happy.

Where do you find plots for your works?

They just come to me. Actually I have more ideas than time to realise them all.

Your major inspiration is Dutch art and surrealism. What other sources should you mention?

The wonders of nature. I can be fascinated by the beauty of a flower. It's a magic how it grows like that. And what's more, daily life and human behaviour is a constant inspiration to me. I like psychology and I try to mirror human behaviour.

 Can you choose one favourite photo?

A rising legend: the mermaid is my favourite. It is very personal. I was a mermaid in my theatre work for over 10 years. The hair the mermaid is wearing in the photo is my first hairpiece. I took this photo as a closing, when I decided to stop performing for good.

Your master classes are always successful. What advice do you usually give to your students?

It is rather appreciative  when people come to you because they want to follow your unique style. I regularly say “Find your own way, find what you like best and what you are best at. That's how you are unique.”

Kaat, you’re now participating as a jury of 35AWARDS. What kind of works will win your attention?

 The ones that caught it in the very first split second.

I wish to feel the story behind the photo, even if I don't know it for sure. This kind of feeling is enough for me.