“I want to urge personal growth and show that anyone can become what they strive for as long as they invest into themselves.”
Tana O’Hara takes self-portraits and loves being involved in this process from start to finish, and therefore being able to learn all aspects of a photo-shoot. Her images exude something very specific, something hard to put in words. Perhaps a certain aura, a bit of mystery, where the eye stops and the viewer feels like opening oneself to a piece of art. We had a chat with Tana about to why photography is her favourite way of expression, the message she wants to communicate and her sensible use of instagram.
What moment made you fall in love with photography?
Growing up I would define myself as average, passable but not spectacular. I participated in many activities, but I never mastered any of them. It was not until I was around 13 or 14 that I discovered my passion for creating. Whether it was through music, writing, dance, etc. From there I discovered photography. Photography allows me to tell a story without saying anything at all and to bring to life images that were only known in my mind. With photography there is no limit to what can be created and it has become my favorite form of expression.
Who influenced you the most?
My greatest influence is my Uncle. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself and he taught me valuable lessons that have shaped me into who I am today. He is my biggest supporter.
What means home to you?
I have moved to many houses throughout my childhood, so home was never associated with a physical place for me. Instead, home is my family. The people who have always and will always be there for me. We have experienced many hardships together but we have also experienced many beautiful moments.
“Photography allows me to tell a story without saying anything at all and to bring to life images that were only known in my mind.”
I love the beautiful written captions on your Instagram. How many hours per week do you spend on social media?
Before I started my Instagram account two years ago, I never used social media and I do not feel any loss from that. I am not someone who is dependent on others for self-fulfillment and I was always aware that social media can build and feed into an unhealthy addiction. However, in this society it is a lot harder to grow a business if you are not connected and that is why I started my account. I figured that since I needed to be on social media, I would rather be on Instagram than any other platform. It is the best place to showcase a photographer’s work and it has a vast community. When I joined, I made the decision to not let it impact my life in a negative way. I turned off notifications and I only login when I need to post or comment. I view Instagram as somewhere that I can express myself as an artist, but I do not want it to take control of my self-image.
I take self-portraits because…
I take self-portraits because I love how I am able to be the photographer, model, and editor. Every part of the process from start to finish is done by me. That might seem a bit self-centered but because I have been the one to do the planning, set-up, and execution I have had to learn multiple aspects of what goes into a photoshoot. What I have learned will be valuable for the future and it is the backbone of my progression.
“Home is my family. The people who have always and will always be there for me.”
What do you want the viewer to take out of your images?
I want to communicate a message through my images that inspires others to create. I want to urge personal growth and show that anyone can become what they strive for as long as they invest into themselves.
We live in quite turbulent times – do you think that some people are inherently aggressive and violent? And what do you think we can all do in order to make a better world?
I believe that everyone is born innocent. It is the events that they experience throughout their childhood that shape them into who they are. Those experiences are what constrict them from being open to a variety of perspectives that contradict their own.
One way that we could all make the world a better place is by educating ourselves. It would force people to think differently than how they normally would, and it would bring to light questions that they would not normally ask.
And what would you state as your contribution to change the world in one way or the other?
I am an advocate for maintaining an eco friendly lifestyle and I believe that by setting yourself up as an example for what should be incorporated into daily life and food ethics you will help to reduce negative impacts on our ecosystem as well as provide a healthier future for the next generation.
“I view Instagram as somewhere that I can express myself as an artist, but I do not want it to take control of my self-image.”
What are three things you value most about a person?
The three qualities that I value most in a person are compassion, perseverance, and confidence.
What’s the last book you read?
The last book that I read was Atomic Habits by James Clear. That book opened my eyes to how tiny changes in behavior can lead to remarkable growth. It goes into depth about how you can completely change your life by improving 1% everyday, which is a manageable and achievable amount. It also goes into depth about how progress is painstakingly slow, and it is not until months or years later that you will realize the true value of the work that you have done.
What was the last movie you watched with your grandparent(s)?
I honestly cannot remember the last movie that I have watched with my grandparents although we do occasionally watch television together. Some of our favorite shows are Judge Judy, Catfish, and The Murray Show.
The world needs more of… and less of…
The world needs more acceptance and less judgement.