Raised by her constantly on-the-road musician father, Clara Balzary knows how to capture tranquil moments during manic times. With all the commuting, it makes sense that her preferred style is, in her words, “diaristic.” Clara documents all moments on tour—buses, backstage, the ketchup-stained tablecloth under last night’s room service.
The LA-based photographer never misses a beat, feeling that the emotion behind the photograph speaks louder than the subject matter. “I try to take pictures that stir up some kind of authentic feeling,” she notes, “even if visually they’re pretty deadpan.”
The 25-year-old’s ability to capture the remarkability of the unplanned is why companies such as Vans, Opening Ceremony, and her father’s band (one of the most enduring musical voices of the past 30 years, Red Hot Chili Peppers) have hired her to shoot their campaigns. Her work-for-hire shots are equally serene–black and whites of sunrises, girls grimly starring into the camera. Clara’s nature is one you’d expect from an itinerant traveler—easy-going and free-spirited, analytical and astute. Meeting with the young professional naturally unveiled a sort of backstage pass into her unique upbringing. Read on to find out what aesthetics lay close to Clara’s heart and what role her godfather Anthony Kiedis played in getting her started.
When did you start taking photos?
In elementary school I got a camera and started taking weird black and white portraits of my cats.
I always knew that was your passion in high school, but did you take classes in middle school too?
I did! But in middle school my passion was rhinestone tank tops.
Who gave you your first camera?
A lot of your work is a mixture between editorial—portrait and scenic/landscape, what is your favorite to shoot?
My favorite has always been diaristic, kind of reportage-style travel photography—mostly because it means I’m traveling—but I also grew up loving peeking into other photographers’ personal lives and sharing that sense of sincerity when wanting to photograph your best friends and favorite places. I really love Wim Wenders’ travel book.
Other people’s travel snapshots are the best, too. It can get a little bit overwhelming though, as almost every photographer of my generation came up trying to be like Ryan McGinley, Wolfgang Tillmans or Larry Clark, and there are only so many pictures I can digest of a pretty girl in New York throwing up or whatever. And now with Instagram, everyone (including myself) throws out these hyper-idealized pictures of their personal lives, so I’m trying to rethink ways to not add to that.
It’s interesting because your subject matter is simple, yet your work is so cinematic. Is there an emotional approach to your work?
I definitely feel super emotional about cinematography! Movies like Badlands, My Own Private Idaho, and Paris, Texas have aesthetics I try to copy every day. I try to take pictures that stir up some kind of authentic feeling, even if visually they’re pretty deadpan.
You’ve been on tour most your life, but your most recent time you worked. How was that?
It was nice to have a sense of purpose and make some cash.
What camera are you using now?
My favorite now is the Mamiya 7 II.
What does the next year look like for you?
I’ll be getting my own studio, which is the best! I’m feeling really to be able to start building a studio practice, so I can exert more control over the images I’m making, and so I don’t have to be on a road trip to be able to make work.
Tell me about that famous Kate Moss photo no one gives you credit about?
I want credit! But she should get credit. But I guess she gets a lot of credit?