Lifestyle and advertising photographer Inti St. Clair grew up in the state of Oregon, and initially studied foreign language at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR. Down the line she realized that she didn’t want to do anything with the foreign language degree aside from travel, so it was important to find a career choice that was conducive to her goals. She took a step back and really asked herself, “What do I want my life to look like?,” and recognized the love she had all along for photography. Inti had the desire to be artistic, create, and be able to travel with the ability of making ones own schedule, so photography ended up fitting that mold. After a quick summer studying photography in Montana, she began working in the industry in Seattle for four years. As time went by, she left her beloved—but gloomy— Pacific Northwest for sunny Austin, Texas, where she is now located.
Her wanderlust spirit translates into her work, which evokes a global feel. Her work showcases all different kinds of people and places. She has been to about 50 countries, so her sense of the world has helped her in having such a diverse portfolio. Being able to speak multiple languages allows her to create a connection to her subjects that the average traveler may not be able to. This skill gives her a leg up in the industry, as she’s been hired for jobs because of her language capabilities. And while advertising work can be soulless to an extent, Inti uses it to her advantage. She sets a goal for herself on projects to photograph people of all ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations— it is her tiny way to give back, and affect a social change. One of the best ways for people to gain an understanding and become more open to lifestyles that are different from their own is through exposure. Throughout her travels, she has seen so much in terms of the world, that although we as ahuman race are different, at the same time we are exactly the same. Putting diverse work out into the world, Inti normalizes these marginalized groups of people.
Ideas and concepts that are “trending” in the market place of commercial photography all happen to be things she photographs— more specifically equality of the races and genders, as well as equality for people of all sexual orientation and non-binary identities. Culturally now, we are more open to allowing people to live authentically. So as an advertising photographer, Inti is constantly devouring imagery and media in general, whether it’s written articles or the photographic work of photojournalists. She is curious to see how things will be changing in our world over the course of the next few years, but it makes her even more committed to expose people through imagery to all different walks of life.
A special quality to Inti’s work is the reality of it all. She likes to cast real people for her work, and have them engaging with real people from their lives. On a trip to New York several years ago, she self produced a shoot with a Sikh man she had met. She had asked if he had anyone who he knew that would like to pose with him in the shots, to which he suggest a girl he had just met at a party. She agreed to the shoot with him and Inti, and the two ended up falling in love on her photo set. The couple is now married with a child, and Inti always gets together with them on trips back to the city.
One of the photographs from the shoot ended up being bought by Axe Body Spray, and were a part of a larger campaign. The photograph ended up on billboards all over New York, and across the board on social media, which was at the beginning of it’s big boom. Because the man was Sikh, he wore a turban, which caused an uproar across the virtual world with people making assumptions about their faith.
The couple became involved, sharing their story with the worldand explained how they were a real couple with Sikh faith. They took the high road against people making their own assumptions based on looks, and used it as an opportunity to educate those who seemed to take offense to their photograph. Advertising can have social relevance and impact, and social media allows for this kind of dialogue to happen. If Axe had only licensed the image for print, or before the time of social media, there may not have been that kind of social forum or discussion.
Photography that has the ability to educate the every day citizen is what Inti strives to create more and more of every time she picks up her camera. We can only hope to see more artists across the world use their voice as she does to help make the photography industry an even more inclusive space.