Spotlight On: Josephine Claus

Josie is a photographer studying in a Master’s program out of state after graduating from PSU.

Q: How has your time at PSU helped and/or influenced you in your Master’s program?

A: My time at PSU shaped me— all of it. My first day of college was one of the best, if not the best, of my life. I started at Portland Community College (PCC) and the thing I remember so vividly was the weather and my first class ever. I took a College Survival and Success class and my teacher said it was my choice if I wanted to do well, I had the freedom to choose. What a change for a High School drop-out to hear— it is my choice, not anyone else’s. The weather was warm and I basked in this new-found freedom college gave me. PSU was the next fundamental step to shaping me as a person and an artist. I learned something new everyday and the classes I took there taught me the magic of cropping photos or how to account for revenues properly or how to read complicated German sentences (the list goes on). Without PSU and the teachers there, my art would not be what it is today and I would be a completely different human being.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: Currently, I am the photographer for the German department at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and I am working on documenting all the amazing things that happen to students in this program. I have some other side projects involving photographing jewelry and building up a portfolio. There is more to come on that front.

Q: What do you love about what you do?

A: I love being creative and I love photographing people. My camera is my eyes and it never lies. When I take a photo, I am capturing that moment and I have taken it forever. I take the idea of a camera “stealing your soul” very seriously. I do believe I am doing just that when I take a photo; however, it is also much more complicated than that. I am taking the subject in their entirety from that moment and they are living on eternally from that point forward through this photo taken. What I love about what I do is the complicated nature of taking photos even though it is as simple as clicking a button. With my work, people reveal themselves to me whether or not they know they have. I love protecting and remembering that moment as well as their very essence. I take this honor and responsibly seriously.

Q: Do you have any advice for other artists?

A: Be honest. I would like to point out that just because you have a camera, does not mean you are taking good photos. So many people have cameras nowadays that are set-up to take “good” photos and do, one can often forget the complexity of the task in and of itself. As an example, camera photos are great today and much higher quality as opposed to 10 years ago being set-up to create a good photo; however, I would like to point-out something Walter Benjamin mused about regarding this matter, to paraphrase “taking a photo and reproducing it, removes it from it’s unique existence in time and space.” I, unfortunately, believe this to be true. The true challenge for the artist is to make something that is that moment in time and space, consequently making it timeless. My advice is to remember the respect you owe as the photographer to the subject, whether it be an egg or a human being. It is not about you as the photographer when taking a photo— it is about the subject and that exact moment in time.

Q: What are your goals?

A: My goal is share people’s beauty with themselves and others as well as documenting moments honestly.