Taryn Anderson would prefer to walk around with a permanent lens strapped to her face. For photography’s sake, we wish she would too. Photographer TK Anderson, aka “Teek The Sneak,” grew up encircled by various forms of artistry. Although she gained her creative start through sketching and painting, TK preferred to wander the world as a wallflower with a lens in hand, photographically dictating the world around her.
Now TK graces the fashion and photography world with her “raw yet refined” work, from snapping shots of musicians like Chet Faker and Stella Santana, to producing seductively eye-catching editorial work for cutting-edge publications like, Live FAST Magazine and C-Heads Magazine.
We had a chance to pick the brain of this seductively surreal artist as she shared “a thing or two about a thing or two” behind her cinematic storytelling.
First I have to ask where you got the nickname “Teek the Sneak”?
It was actually my first MySpace name, a reference to the Bay Area rapper Keak Da Sneak. Teek comes from my lifelong nickname TK, my first two initials.
You previously studied fine arts and fashion design. Your eye for fashion is incredibly evident in your photos, not only capturing candid and raw emotion on the models but beautifully displaying the clothing pieces in a lifestyle format as well. How did you transition from fashion design to fashion and street photography?
I designed for a little while, and then I started working for the brand RVCA, where an affiliated artist gave me his film camera. That inspired me to shoot around the shop and the neighborhood. I feel like my hybrid of “real life” and “fashion” comes from that. I ended up shooting a bunch of campaigns for RVCA, which inspired me to grow in fashion photography. I still work closely with them. Their network of artists is pretty rad. I appreciate brands that support creatives like that.
Had you always had an interest in photography?
I have. It started with sketching and painting though. I learned a lot of fundamentals in art when I was young, and was always lurking around with a camera. My mom told me I should be “more present,” but I preferred my presence to be as a wallflower. I’ve always been a bit crazy about capturing moments, but as I get older I’m starting to appreciate the beauty in impermanence — feeling the moment fully rather than scrambling to catch it. If it didn’t look so crazy, I would probably find a way to attach a lens to my eye. I think technology is already heading there.
How long have you been shooting professionally?
About 3 years give or take.
You are extremely versatile in your photographs yet you mimic the same aggressively pleasant edge and dark, course tone. If you had to classify your work, what would say is your photography “style?”
Even in staged settings I’ve heard I tend to pull out honesty in my subjects. I guess “raw yet refined” is a fitting term.
What intrigues you most about the art of fashion and photography?
The attention to detail and the energy. Those make all the difference. Having an idea and bringing it to life, by managing all of the little parts involved – lighting, composition, subject, etc. Knowing when you have the perfect moment and combination, that thing that takes a good photo to a great photo. It’s pretty epic when you hit that sweet spot.
What story do you aim to tell through the lens? Do you have a different story you aim to tell per shoot or do you let the story sort of create itself as the shoot progresses?
Color is important. It also depends on what the subject can give me, and how I can manipulate the light and environment. I’ll push as far as I can. I aim to do that. Each shoot can have it’s own story, but I can’t tell it by myself. It’s a big team effort, even if it’s just the subject and me.
What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Non-living objects are really fun to shoot, like beautifully crafted clothing and plants (nature rules), but I love people. I love human interaction and have had the pleasure to work with some true talents. I prefer to work with interesting humans that have something to offer beyond good looks. When I really vibe with a model I tend to want to shoot them a lot, and I do.
I’m sure you have many, but what has been your favorite or most memorable photo shoot thus far?
I shoot fashion as well as music artists so that’s hard to say, I’ve had so many wild adventures. I recently shot with Cenit in Puerto Rico, where she’s from. I was out there and right before my flight to NY we hit up some waterfalls. We almost ran out of gas halfway up so we had to turn around to fill up. We almost didn’t make it but I’m so glad we did. To shoot someone in their environment is extra special.
I loved your Cenit Nadir shoot for C-Heads Magazine. The images of her with the towel on her head, red lipstick and jewelry were some of my favorite shots.
Thanks dude! I love that girl. She makes my job pretty easy. Beautiful inside and out.
I read previously that back in November you were going to be directing a music video for Stella Santana, daughter of Carlos Santana. How did that turn out?
I actually grew up with Stell, she’s family to me. We’ve watched each other grow for so many years, so it’s cool to work together. We know each other really well, we have a trust that is hard to find.
The photos of Stella on your website are incredible. What was it like directing her music video?
She also makes it very easy, such a talent and so charismatic. The last video for “Friends” was the two of us in Vegas having fun and documenting it. Nothing better than creating cool shit out of real experiences. We have a new one for her song “Switch” coming out. We got a gang of good folks together in NYC and had a blast.
How was directing different than shooting still photography?
Directing is much more involved. I have a few videos under my belt, but the challenges are always growing. It’s taught me how to communicate much better. There are many more moving parts that you have to manage, but I like that. I’m usually involved in all of the elements from production to editing.
Would you ever direct again?
Definitely. I’m still focused on my fashion photography but I will always work in music in one way or another. Creating with musicians is fun.
You have also photographed Chet Faker. What was that like?
Chet is the man! Honestly, one of the best dudes I’ve ever shot. He’s as cool as his music. We met up at a diner in Echo Park and jammed out a few rolls of film. We were both pretty awkward at first. I think it was my first shoot with a musician, and one of his first shoots, but he was so nice. I’m so excited to see him doing his thing. Definitely going to catch him at Coachella.
Do you enjoy shooting musicians?
I love shooting with musicians. It’s very collaborative. It’s cool when creative people who do different things can combine worlds.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects, shoots, videos, etc.?
I have that video for Stella’s song “Switch” dropping very soon! A couple other projects with her coming up as well. I have a feeling I’ll have a lot more music projects coming out, but I have some fashion stuff lined up too.
Connect with Taryn and stay caught up on all of her latest projects and happenings by following her on Instagram @tk.anderson.
– Valeri Spiwak, Contributing Writer