We had the good fortune of connecting with Owen Scarlett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Owen, how do you think about risk?
In my career, risk taking has forced me to remain present and by doing so I allowed there to be space for new opportunities. I found that by constantly taking steps into the unknown I diminished limitations that might have arrived had I stuck to more linear pathways.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
During college, I was gifted a DLSR camera and was opened up to the world of photography. I was Jazz Dance major so at that time everyone I knew was needing headshots because we were about to embark on the professional dance world of auditioning. I found myself to be an amateur so I would capture portraits of my friends with zero expectations. They felt safe with me and that allowed their purest light to shine through. I loved how my work made people feel. I continued to take photos of my fellow dance friends throughout my professional career as a dancer and then one day a photographer who I admired so much told me that I needed to start charging for my work and recognize that I finally knew what I was doing. From there I mainly captured portraits but I expanded from just doing headshots. I soon realized that even though I now “knew what I was doing” I still kept my work spaces free of judgement and people gravitated to me because it showed in the work I produced. It is my goal to continue to create grounding and safe spaces for individuals to express themselves. I had a lot of creative interests as a child so I was always getting into different projects. For the longest time it was just dancing but at the age of twelve I was gifted a camcorder and I realized the magic of capturing moments of other people’s creative exploration. I would record my friends dancing and provide them with VHS’s of the footage. I had no idea what I was doing but that allowed my subjects to feel free of judgement. I didn’t have any expectations. I just found each individual’s expressions uniquely inspiring. I love collaboration and love creating safe creative spaces and I truly feel like that’s my natural gift as an artist. My journey was very freeform but I’ve definitely made hiccups along the way. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that it’s okay to feel like you still have so much to learn. It’s that very feeling that keeps me humble and passionate to be better. It keeps my exploration exciting and my work authentic.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love to host and cook so I would start off the weekend with a BBQ at my place. I love grilling and eating outside so this would be the kickoff. LA is close to so many scenic nature spots so we’d definitely get in a car for a little road trip to Joshua Tree to see the stars next and spend the night there. Then I’d take them back to LA for a hike in Malibu and finish the trip off by watching the sunset at Lechuza Beach. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve come across so many angels throughout the course of my career but I’d say the first group of people who gave me the biggest burst of inspiration is the inaugural dancers of Visceral Dance Chicago. These individuals were my first coworkers and greatest motivators. We were a small group of dancers who were birthing a dance company in Chicago, IL so we took on several roles besides being performing artists. It was there that I was encouraged to pick up a camera as well as help do some minor graphic design projects for the company.