Featured Artist: Kyrsta Morehouse

This month’s featured artist is Kyrsta Morehouse, a Los Angeles-based photographer. Kyrsta is not only a photographer. She is originally a makeup artist, and started taking film and Polaroid photographs while working on film sets. She is also a poet, and her work has been published in several literary magazines. Last but not least, she also has a baking account on Instagram. Kyrsta discussed her various creative pursuits with us, and told us about her favorite artists she collaborated with, and how she kept creating during lockdown. 

Who are you?

I am Kyrsta Morehouse. My main career is as a celebrity makeup artist mainly for film and TV. It’s actually through my makeup career that I found photography. I was always surrounded by it on sets, but I was never the one behind the lens. However, a few years ago I got a polaroid to take BTS shots on the sets I was working on and fell in love with film!! That love of polaroids quickly spread to film photography in general, and now is spreading to digital photography as well. 

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I definitely would say the textures of film are very important to my style, but I think I’m still finding my voice in my photography. I am not drawn to just one specific type of photography and love to shoot different things (nature, self portraits, editorial, fashion, portraits, etc). Through all my work though, I hope that each photo serves a purpose or tells a story. Taking pictures is such a magical thing to be able to freeze a moment/memory in time. I try to remember that everytime I press the button on my camera and I hope that it speaks to people looking at my work. 

How did you find it? How has it evolved since you got started?

My style started as just being “the polaroid girl” and people loved the special BTS moments I captured on set. But once I recognized I had an eye for photos, that grew into something bigger. I think every artist’s work is constantly evolving and growing, whether due to their own evolution or the evolution of the world around us. For example: the year 2020 pushed me far outside of my photography comfort zone when I dove into self portraits. I lived alone in quarantine and felt my need to create art in “captivity” gnawing at me. Since I had no one else to photograph, I turned the camera on myself. While I am NO model by any means, I do think that by turning the camera around and being the most creatively vulnerable I have been by capturing the many emotional stages of 2020, I was able to create things I never would have made without quarantine. 

Which artists have influenced your work the most?

I have been very lucky in my career as a makeup artist to work with so many talented photographers that I have always looked up to, but now doing photography myself I can see them in a whole new light! Two of my favorite creative minds to work with are Nadia Lee Cohen and Pol Kurucz. Both of them have such a bold and specific style that I can always recognize their work. I also really look up to Sam Dameshek who has been an amazing teacher as I dive into film and the professional work of photography. Artists like Miles Aldridge, Anthony Berarco, and Desiree Mattsson are also big idols of mine. 

How do you work? What are the different steps in the making of a photograph?

It really depends on the type of photography I’m doing since I cover many kinds. I love doing super personal/collaborative work with people who trust me to capture moments for them and a job like that is addressed very differently than a big paid editorial shoot would be. At the end of the day, it’s always my number one priority to make whoever is in front of my lens feel safe, supportive, and confident. If I am able to do that, it’s really hard to not get a great shot! Sometimes photography is about capturing a beautiful moment, and sometimes it’s about a story. My self portrait series in 2020 for instance, was all very story driven and each photo attempted to capture something very specific and took lots of preplaning. I don’t think there is a specific formula, all shoots have their own needs and different ways to create the best product. 

Have you ever wanted to experiment with other art forms?

I am open to most things! I refer to myself as a “wanderlust creative” often. And to me that means that I have a love of exploring different creative ventures! I started as an actress, then found makeup. While makeup and now photography are my main creative outlets, I also bake, I used to dance and do aerial acrobatics, doodle, write poetry, write screenplays, knit, etc. I have to always be creating somehow.

What has been your favorite experience in your career so far? 

When I think of my favorite, I think of two things: 1) a solo trip I took to Bombay Beach to photograph the art installations evolving in nature there and 2) my 2020 self portraits. I loved my trip to Bombay Beach and it was magic to be fully immersed and surrounded by art that is continually being changed by nature, the idea that even if I came back in a month I would be photographing something totally different. There is something so special about being the only one to capture a specific moment in time! As for the self portraits, I know I have mentioned them a lot, but they were very therapeutic to explore, not to mention something I never thought I would do!! The best art is always something that pushes you or helps you grow in some way, and both of those projects did just that. 

What would you like people to feel through your work? 

I think each photo tells a different story and thus pulls you to feel something different. Some of my pictures show depression/pain, so I hope that you feel something very different looking at those then a beautiful high fashion editorial series. In the end, if I can help people feel SOMETHING then I did my job. But I dont think it’s up to the artist to tell you how to feel -we can guide you in the direction we feel the piece should lead you – but you have to find that for yourself. 

What have you been reading, watching, and listening to lately?

Oh goodness!!! I just rewatched one of my favorite shows, The OA, with my partner, and it was so much fun to see their reactions watching it for the first time!! But honestly I have been rewatching lots of comfort shows like Friends, Parks and Rec, Bob’s Burgers etc. As for listening, I have a very diverse playlist but I have had Ben Plats’ album on repeat. Reading I would say I am always rereading Andrea Gibson and Megan Falley, if you want to be inspired I highly recommend devouring all of their words. 

What is next for you?

Up next is diving more into digital photography. I think film will always be my one true love in photography, but anyone who has ever shot film will tell you that it is a fickle mistress!! Having digital as a backup is such an important thing. Not to mention there are things you may not be able to do with film that you can with digital and I’m eager to explore that. 

Is there a question you wish I had asked you?

Not that I can think of off the top of my head!

Kyrsta Shae Morehouse has always been a very creative person. She first started out as an actor when she was younger, before finding her passion in beauty and special effects makeup. In the last few years she began capturing behind the scenes moments while she was the makeup artist on set, and in doing so became inspired to find a new passion in analog/film photography. Now Kyrsta is pushing herself to create her own unique style in high fashion/editorial film and polaroid photography. Kyrsta has had her photography displayed at That Art Gallery in Bristol, UK for the Together/Apart exhibit and in “I Was Here : An Exhibit of Womxn In Photography” by All She Makes. Her work has been published in Malvie Magazine and Archive Magazine. Her work has even been the album cover for The Fate of California by The Clydes.

You can see more of Kyrsta’s work on her website and her Instagram

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.