It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to the words and work of occasional EMULSIVE contributor, Clara Araujo. If you haven’t already done so, please do check out her take on portrait photography and double exposure portraiture. Fascinating stuff.
Anyway, enough from me. Over to you, Clara.
What’s this picture, then?
CA: It was around 7am and I was getting ready to go to one of my last classes of the second semester of 2017. It’s not unusual to wake up and see one of my cats purring in my bed.
This is Charlote, she was happy and purring and there was this beautiful morning light coming from the window, mixed with the curtain’s shadows all over her. I think it shows part of what my morning rituals are like and how they feel. I thought she looked so beautiful and decided to get my camera and take a few photos of that moment. It shows my obsession for shadows as well.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
CA: I always find it difficult to put this into words! I’m a young woman who found in photography, the possibility of self-discovery and expressing myself in the most honest possible way. I’m also a psychology student in my last semester of the course, soon to graduate.
I’ve always had a passion and an impulse to create. I’m a really curious and intuitive person who loves to see, look at and try to understand things in my own way. I’m a very introspective person and expressing myself through art and photography have been things that have helped me with that for as long as I can remember.
It’s very important for me to be able to look at what’s inside me. Creating helps me with that.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
CA: I started shooting film in 2011, while I was still in high school. The main thing that keeps me shooting today is because of what it feels like for me. I love the look of film but the best thing for me is to be able to focus on whats outside the camera while I’m shooting.
I can actually interact and feel I’m there with the person (if I’m shooting portraits), and able to capture that connection and the person’s singularity, while at the same time projecting so much of myself into those images. There are no distractions on a screen, no ways to know right away what those images will look like. It’s just being there and sharing that moment.
I also love not remembering exactly what I saw and captured was like because I hardly ever remember things as exactly what they were. The memories that remain after a photoshoot are usually more emotional, so I always have many surprises when I get a roll of film developed and scanned. I look at the pictures I’ve taken and can actually feel them.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
My first influence was definitely my grandmother. She has always had a passion for photography and other forms of art and many of my childhood memories consist on she carrying a camera, taking photos and making drawings.
She’s a very creative and talented person. I’ve had pretty much my entire childhood documented by her in beautiful photos. She is also the person who convinced me to start shooting film. Today she’s still an influence but I’ve found other people and stuff that influence me as well, such as models I collaborate with, my family and friends who bring me inspiration and support even though most of them aren’t that into photography, and many other photographers as well.
Some of these that inspire me a lot are Margaret Bourke-White; Berenice Abbot; Nirav Patel and Ryan Muirhead, to name a few. Besides people, I’m very inspired by light, shadow, spirituality, nature and dreams as well. Carl Jung’s work has been a great source of inspiration too.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
I only shoot film. The only digital photos I take are phone snapshots, I don’t own any digital cameras anymore.
What’s your next challenge…your next step? How do you see yourself improving your technique? What aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?
I hope to create even more intimate and introspective work, to be able to make it even more personal. I believe this can make my work more consistent and stronger. I want people to feel something when they look at my photos.
I do some commercial work as well (though I choose to share more personal work) and hope to be able to grow on it as well in a way that I still can incorporate a lot of my own style into it. I really want to get back into shooting more black and white film too, and working with BW is something that I think that would definitely help me improve my work, as it makes me think a lot more about shapes, lights, shadows and textures. This year I also want to start shooting medium format film.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
I love shooting portraits and scenes that contain a lot of shadow and light at the same time. People because I love to get a closer look at them and get to know them in a way that can contribute to my own self-discovery process.
When I photograph someone it always end up feeling like a self-portrait in a way, I can see so much of myself in every portrait I take of someone else. Light and shadows because I love how they look but they also remind me of all light and darkness we have in ourselves.
So many forgotten memories and emotions in our subconscious. So many things we choose to show and those we choose to hide. I’m constantly thinking about what hides in my shadow.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an unknown assignment. You can take one camera, one lens, two films and you have no idea what you’ll be shooting. What do you take with you and why?
I’d take my Canon EOS 3000n because it’s the camera I use the most and that I’m most familiar with and the Canon EF 50mm STM lens because the autofocus can be really useful depending on what I’m shooting. It helps me a lot if I want to shoot wide open and don’t have a lot of time to focus, and it’s also pretty fast.
For the film I will take a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 and one of Kodak Portra 400. These are two very versatile films that are good for both indoors and outdoors photography or mixed light conditions, and I love the look of each, too.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location for the rest of your life. What do you take, where do you go and why?
That’s a hard one to answer. Maybe I’d take Kodak Ektar to Greece, because of how blue the ocean is there. Ektar’s colors are pretty strong. I’ve never even been to Greece actually but it’s a place I’d love to visit and photograph. I love this film for landscapes but hardly ever use it.
Most times when I shoot color I use films that give softer colors, since I shoot a lot of portraits, and I often miss stronger colors when I see the landscapes I’ve shot.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
Kodak Tri-x 400, definitely. It’s my #1 favorite film. I’d probably expose half of it shooting my family and my cats at home and the other half travelling with close friends, if I had the chance, because the photos would bring me so many emotional memories in the future.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
The first one that comes to my mind is that it is too expensive. It obviously has its costs, whether you develop/scan your films yourself or send it to a lab or someone you trust to do it. However, it is so much cheaper to get into film photography and get a good SLR and a nice lens than if you want to get a full frame DSLR. There are a lot of good 35mm SLRs at very affordable prices.
It’s good to let people who are interested in shooting film know that they can start doing it without having to spend that much money. I could never afford a full frame DSLR and didn’t spend any money at all with some of the cameras I own, since some friends and relatives gave some of their old cameras to me as gifts.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
I see a growing community of people who shoot film, and a lot of people who have never experimented with it showing interest in trying it. I hope it continues to grow and become more popular. I believe film has been having some sort of comeback in the last few years. This week I found out about Kodak T-MAX 3200’s comeback and see it as a very good sign.
As you may already be aware via social media and elsewhere, I took a break with interviews in March for the sake of my sanity. Now they’re back, I will be slowing them down to roughly one per fortnight.
This piece marks the 179th photographer interview since I first started them in July 2015. It works out to one fresh interview every ~5 days for the intervening 1000 days. Not a bad run! There’s still a queue, so if you want to get featured, please drop me a line and I’ll make it happen.
Thanks for reading,
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