Remember Tabitha Soren of MTV news? She’s an artist now

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Tabitha Soren, amid her work at Kopeikin Gallery
Tabitha Soren, amid her work at Kopeikin Gallery (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

What do you do with the rest of your life when you’ve become a TV star and an icon for a generation at age 23?  Tabitha Soren and MTV news were to the 90s Presidential campaigns what Twitter was to Obama.  After running around covering President Clinton, she married a superstar writer (Michael Lewis), won a prestigious journalism fellowship at Stanford (the Knight), and had three kids.

Like any super-smart, accomplished woman, she understandably didn’t want to lose her self in her family life, or in the shadow of her husband’s fame.  For ten years now, she’s been crafting carefully constructed still images–not photojournalism, but beautiful fine art.  Her work has accompanied stories written by her husband in the NY Times Magazine, and has hung in museums.

We met this week at the art gallery here in Los Angeles that’s displaying her latest series — large, crisp, haunting images of people running in startling locations that look like they could be freeze frames of chase scenes from artful films.

With “Running,”  she was, she told me, “making primal photographs in a society that’s not.”  Photography in general, and these images in particular, she said, give “a chance to open ourselves up to our own deep internal life.”

Unlike many fine art photographers, Tabitha Soren is willing to admit the chance element of the form: “The things I’m drawn to are usually imperfect. Where things fall short or are messed up in some way .  A very fast motion in very low light:  I never knew what was going to happen in these shoots.”  But she loves the waiting and the accidental nature of it the process.  Making a still image forces her to “hang out,” she said, something particularly difficult for a mother of three young kids to do.
While we talked in the gallery, several patrons walked through the show, not seeming to recognize the former TV star. That seemed to suit her just fine. (Note to the legions of guys who had a crush on Tabitha: She’s still gorgeous.)Famous so young, she’s redefined herself, now, with a career behind the camera, making thoughtful, deliberate pictures that are the antithesis of the daily journalistic rush.   We talked a bit about what’s so compelling about photography for her, and why you won’t likely ever see video on her website: