This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog, part of a new series called, From the Archives. For this entry, I was being interviewed by the amazing Holly Clark. Source: 4 in 24: Vanessa Simpson | Mortal Muses
In the spirit of this month’s theme, Collaborations, I’m excited to be introducing a new guest feature here on Mortal Muses where we challenge a guest to shoot 4 images within 24 hours and share their story here.
Our first guest, Vanessa Simpson, is a geographer by training and trade, and a photographer, artist and mother at heart…oh yeah, she’s also a yogini and runner too! Photography is a passion for her she told me, “I need it, I have to do it.” She still owns her very first camera, a Kodak/Fisher Price 110, that she received as a birthday gift at the ripe age of 7-years old. When I asked Vanessa to share four photos taken within twenty-four hours, she requested to share images from a special roll of film taken on a trip taken last year.
What film cameras do you shoot with? Do you have a favorite?
I have a silly number of old cameras; I take them in like abandoned puppies. But, the ones I shoot with most often are my Polaroid 100, Minolta SRT100, and my grandfather’s Yashica TLR. The pull apart Fuji film for the Polaroid is fairly inexpensive and I am particularly smitten with the color film, it is rich and vibrant and crisp. I have promised myself to learn how to use the Yashica TLR that I inherited. It’s a beautiful piece of family history that I am honored to shoot with, it’s just a little intimidating and so different than what I am used to. The photos I am sharing today were a first roll from the Minolta (affectionately known as “Mini”) while on a visit to San Francisco last December.
What do you love most about film?
There is something very magical about film. It happens during the waiting, the point where you hold your breath and hope that you got it all right. The moment the image starts to happen-whether it’s waiting for the film to come back from the lab or the seconds before shapes start to form on the blank paper bathing in the chemicals in the dark room. The magic and the anticipation are what I love. When I shoot with the Polaroid, I get almost instant gratification, but there is still the possibility of a light leak or streaking–these imperfections that we try to mimic with digital photography are what make film, film.
What/Who inspires you?
Oh man, this is a really hard question to answer. I have so many inspirations–many of them I have found over the years via blogs and Flickr. Some of my favorite film shooters are Andrea Jenkins (girlhula) she is the master of Polaroid photography, and I was lucky enough to take a Polaroid class with her a couple of years ago. Kristen Perman, (acukiki) is another amazing Polaroid shooter–her images are haunting and lovely. Laura DeAngelis (lauralani) is an amazing film photographer and self-portraiture master. She has a way with space and color and repetition that blow my mind. I love portraiture work that Lisa Macintosh (lisamac) has been putting out these past few months, and I can’t forget the master minds behind the NOW YOU Workshops, Meredith Winn (Camerashymomma) and Kristin Zecchinelli(Mainemomma)–these two women have helped me grow and stretch in ways I didn’t know I could when it comes to my self portraiture work.
What was your happiest/worst photographic moment & why?
That moment when you realize you don’t have your memory card in the camera–or that you didn’t load that film properly–yup, those moments suck. There are days when you don’t feel “it”. When you wonder why you keep taking frame after frame, the inspiration isn’t there, or your confidence has totally flopped because you are comparing yourself to other artists. Those are the worst moments. But, it is also the time when I find myself growing the most… I keep shooting, keep seeking the light and the patterns and the lines… and I find it all again, the NEED to photograph. There is a certain feeling when I get ‘the shot’. You know it, you feel it. You might take a few more, you know, just in case. But when you get home and sift through the images and you see what you knew all along–you got the image you had planned in your head and that is an amazing feeling.
Final thoughts or advice for our readers?
- Shoot, shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more. Leave the camera at home sometimes, breathe in the world, see it outside of the view finder. It’s going to drive you crazy and make you feel like you have left your right arm laying on the bedroom floor, but be okay with it’s absence. Take notes in a journal, draw (even if you can’t draw) what you want to photograph.
- Don’t hit the shutter of the camera for anyone else, do it for you. Break the rules, use the rules. Read your camera’s manual, seriously, there is good stuff in there. Challenge yourself with horrible light situations. Take your camera out of automatic mode.
- Stop and turn around when you see ‘the moment’ or the “the light” flash by in the car window.
- TURN AROUND, STOP, ASK
- You see something and you feel the pull of it–honor that pull. Don’t worry about who is watching or what they are thinking about you while you shoot. Don’t worry about the equipment you have or don’t have–the best camera is the one with you.
- Shoot, shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more.
Keep Chasing that light,