film photography

Interview | Edie Sunday

 It’s all self-discovery. It’s years of being too afraid to really live life, and then a sudden explosion of a desire to exist and to feel my presence on this earth. I never know who I am but I do know that I am always searching for some sense of that ephemeral thing we call purpose.
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Edie Sunday is a young, talented American photographer. Through her photographs, she takes the viewer on a wonderful journey through her intimate and personal vision of the dreamy and surrealistic. I had the opportunity to travel through her work, her stunning self-portraits and extraordinary landscapes. Read on to find out more.

Your colourful photos are snapshots of a secret world which appears far away, dreamlike, surreal and sensual. There are no urban, geographical or temporal references. The only recognisable temporal reference is in the colour of your hair that changes, along with the moods of the subjects in your photos.

How did you get to this photographic abstraction?

To be perfectly honest I haven’t ever thought too much about it. It’s natural in a sense because I do not like anything urban or modern. I learned to compose photos that cut out objects or references to the time and place, even of any reality at all. The time and place were never important; it was just what I saw in my mind. So those things—the references, didn’t belong. The photos I make are more representations of the inside of my mind, if that makes any sense whatsoever. 

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Your self-portraits are astounding. You have a great screen presence. Your gaze is both the inquisitor and the investigated, it stares straight out at the viewer. Your self-portraits don’t speak about an action, but about feelings. They freeze the emotion. They are reflected in your look, your eyes, your face, your hair, your hands, in your whole body, lasting only a moment.

How important are your self-portraits in your artwork?

Self-portraits, for some years now, have been the most important part of my work because it’s the only thing I do aside from photos of the sky out of the window of the car or the occasional paid job. I used to take photos of other people but there were very few people I connected with on a level that made it feel right. The people I started all of this with—we’re all scattered across the world now, pursuing our dreams and what not. So at a certain point I was left with only myself as subject. I did it out of necessity, but it became a catharsis and an important part of my life. I only make self-portraits under certain circumstances—typically emotional ones. Finally I realized that I made the work that felt the truest to me with myself as subject. I have no desire to photograph others now—unless they are friends and family that I love, or if it’s for work. I am the beginning middle and end of my process, and in that way it has become even more important to me. 

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You appear to photograph mostly women. Female beauty is told by small, tiny gestures. A feminine world of sensuality. You say without saying. Just hints. You tell pieces of beauty. A vague feeling like a reminder of David Hamilton's innocence and youth.

Would you mind speaking about this beauty and innocence that radiate from your female pictures?

It’s interesting to me that you choose those words because as we already mentioned, I mostly photograph myself, and when I am doing so I don’t feel beautiful or innocent. But I am happy those qualities come across—I didn’t know they were there. Maybe I am those things sometimes. A feminine world of sensuality is certainly there because it is the world I inhabit. I am very sensual person and I always feel a heightened sensuality when I am photographing myself. I’m not playing a character—I am presenting myself as I am. I don’t set things up to tell stories, I don’t think about poses or the final product. I just set the camera up and let my intuition guide me, I release something real that has been living in me, and clearly what has come out is a very transparent, vulnerable, and accurate depiction of who I really am. It’s horrifying and amazing that so many people know me so well. 

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The light in your images sometimes floats down gently touching the subject. Other times it rips the picture with a devastating power, becoming the undisputed protagonist. It is often impossible to tell whether these extraordinary compositions happen by chance or by intention.

Can you tell us more about this process?

I can’t be completely sure, and I think to some degree it is both, but there is a good amount of intention behind this. As I mentioned before, I don’t think a lot about the final product, but I am drawn to certain light or compositions because they match the experience I am having—they add to it, they tell another story that my body alone can’t tell. Oftentimes I’ll see a certain light—a strange light—and even if I’m feeling down and uninspired I’ll quickly throw myself into it. It compels me somehow. So that’s often how it happens. As with all of it, it’s just a feeling I get. 

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Your photos remain in this limbo of magical suspension between what it is and what has yet to come. The viewer wonders what they are waiting for: a turning face, a touching hand, a sense of belonging, some sort of recognising each other, the ending of the wind in the hair.

Would you mind telling us about these moments, about this suspension?

I have never thought about it before. It may seem redundant, but again I think this is reflective of the real experience I am having. I am suspended between what is and what is yet to come. I am rarely anchored or still in my mind. Maybe this suspension reflects how I see myself in the world or how I see the world in general—tiny, powerful moments that may mean everything or nothing, but that are the stuff that makes up life. There is a mystery to all of life and maybe this suspension I’ve created is reflective of my orientation towards the mystery. I am not interested in anything that is certain or finalized. Those things terrify me. I prefer to float; fluidity.  

Open spaces, hair blowing in the wind, nudity, magic places without any identifiable elements. I can feel a kind of great yearning for freedom, or a hymn. A kind of getting lost in these no-places in order to find yourself, in the end. 

What can you tell me about this freedom, spirituality, this self-discovery?

 It’s all self-discovery. It’s years of being too afraid to really live life, and then a sudden explosion of a desire to exist and to feel my presence on this earth. I never know who I am but I do know that I am always searching for some sense of that ephemeral thing we call purpose. These photographs are a depiction of me trying to find mine. Or maybe they’re a reflection of me trying to disappear into another world so that I don’t have to. But freedom—I like that theme. A lot about my beginning to dedicate myself to art and to show it to the world was a desire for freedom. Freedom from myself and my own harsh judgement, freedom from society and the people who told me I had to do certain things to matter—just freedom from everyone and everything and a chance to be that which I am, uninhibited, without regard. 

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I believe that it would be impossible to achieve these results with digital cameras: do you have a favourite camera or favourite film to use?

I could not make my art on a digital camera. My favorite cameras are the Nikon 35mms: I used an F3 for years and I just got an FM3A body because my F3 finally gave out after many years. I absolutely love the FM3A and understand why it was so coveted and still is. My favorite films to use are Kodak Portra 160/400 and some old expired professional stuff that I don’t like to get too descript about because then everyone will buy it all off of eBay and I won’t have any left! It’s somewhat selfish of me, but I’d be heartbroken if it all got bought up by people for the wrong reasons—trying to emulate a style. That sounds sort of shitty and I don’t think everyone is just trying to emulate a style by any means. But there are many people who ask me what exactly I use from start to finish to make my work and that really bothers me. Not because I am afraid of being ripped off (that will happen regardless and it’s of no consequence to me) but because I want people to find their own way and not think that they need a certain camera/film/etc. to make beautiful work. There aren’t shortcuts like that. I try to tell people it’s not the film and the camera that make the work. We all have our tools that we know best, that we have the best working relationship with. But the photos are made by the person using the tools. 

 Projects for the future?

 Who knows at this point. I’ve had this weird six months of being offered huge opportunities and then nothing pans out and I’m so saddened by it each time so I am trying not to be attached to anything right now. In fact I was told just yesterday that quite possibly the biggest opportunity I’ve been given to date was actually given to someone else. It was very disappointing. So now I’m not talking about anything in the “future” because more than likely people are just spinning my wheels. My only projects I care about and care to speak about are the ones I am working on with myself. I haven’t been creating a lot lately. I’ve been going through a strange life transition. So I’m waiting for the day that I feel like being with my camera once again. That’s my project—finding the artist in me again. Oh, and beginning to share my writing the way I’ve shared my photos, only through my tumblr (ediesundaywrites.tumblr.com) and some small print publications. 

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Suggest a movie, a novel, a photographer. Just say what comes to your mind first.

Film: The Great Gatsby (original), Novel: A Little Life (it will break you into pieces and it’s so beautiful), Photographer: Sarah Eiseman, I’m biased because she’s my best friend but she really is incredible. 

 Please tell us something about yourself. Just a few words.

 Haven’t I just told you everything about myself? Kidding. Hm. I live my life either feeling like I am frozen or on fire, sometimes both at once, and currently I am obsessed with Peaky Blinders and I’ve been having dreams that I’m one of them and I’ve started dressing like Thomas. The end. 

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 And now the hardest question: why do you take photographs?

Because I must! It’s where I am able to make the most sense out of this life. It’s where I feel the most alive and authentic and myself. And it’s how I connect with other people. I couldn’t imagine not taking photos. Taking photos is a risk for me, because the professional world I work in looks down upon what I do. I’m always risking that they’ll kick me out of the profession for good (clinical psychology) because I am “unprofessional” (taking nude photos of yourself is not only considered unprofessional but also often considered a sign that you are not sane). But I will never stop, it means too much to me, and if the profession ever rids itself of me then that is what was supposed to happen. I’ll always have my camera and I’ll always find ways to connect to and help others. 

Interview | Louis Dazy

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As a night owl, Louis Dazy’s photographs are drenched in tenebrosity, often reflective of the raw emotion with which they are heavily laden. Often through the medium of multiple-exposure, they resonate with nostalgia, and a kind of unrequited and exposed vulnerability to the world. The contrast between the intimacy of apartment settings, and the blurry anonymity of cityscapes appears frequently, elucidating the feeling of alienation and incongruence that Louis wishes to evoke. Beholding these cinematic images, one finds oneself unexpectedly unsettled as one recognises slivers of one’s own melancholy in a windowpane, doorway, or glimmer of light. I had the opportunity to correspond with Louis to gain a better insight into his creative process, intention, and relationship to his work.

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Through the medium of double-exposed film, the people in your work often appear as silhouettes, or ghosts, either hidden or turned submissively away, but always captured intimately. To the viewer, they all feel like fragments of yourself. Do you feel that in some way, these are self-portraits?

When you look at these silhouettes, these ghosts, they’re truly just a part of what I feel like in the moment: it’s always been about me, not them. Most are close friends, lovers, family, but what I see through them is my own reflection, how they see me, what they make me feel, this is what I try to show in my photos. In some way all of my photos are self-portraits, you’re right, even still life photos.

A lot of your images are characterised by dark tones, through which there is a sense of absence or disconnectedness, or perhaps a desire for anonymity and a lonely yearning for something. Is this a reflection of your inner world? If so, do you feel that your photography provides you with a medium through which to communicate thoughts that might not otherwise be understood by society, or the people around you?

I shoot at night because it is the only time of the day that makes me feel creative, like I can actually do something and express what I feel. The dark tones, the disconnectedness, it all comes naturally so I guess it shows what my inner world looks like. Photography provides me with a medium through which I can show feelings and emotions mostly. Thoughts on the other hand are harder to express through photography for me; my mind is a giant mess to be honest, I don’t think much, I just happen to travel through life without really questioning anything. I feel, I’ve got intuition but I don’t think that much, it’s all just flowing, and I don’t have the capacity to analyse and think.

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Do you feel that film, once developed, should be edited digitally?

It is really up to the person shooting it. If you’re not satisfied with the result but can edit it then go for it. What’s important is that you’re satisfied with what you do. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as it feels right to you.

Tell me about something in your life — other than art — that influences the images you create.

My childhood has a lot to do with what I create right now, the nostalgia I feel in me, it’s what makes me feel like ‘I should shoot’, it’s an urge to create new things with old feelings. It’s a bit hard to explain but let’s put it this way: it’s like listening to a song you love for the 500th time — you’re getting bored of it, it doesn’t come out as powerfully as it used to anymore. I used to be really really afraid of the dark when I was much younger. My mom bought night lights so I could feel safe at night — the ones you can change colors on — and I used to play a lot with these, putting them at different places in the room, setting up moods and scenes with my toys. I spent lots of time doing this and I guess it helped me find my way into a specific style of lighting, like the ones you can see in my photos!

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Do you find that most of the work that you’re proud of comes spontaneously, or is it mostly planned? Are you happy with your photography?

Spontaneously. I’m not much of a planner, I carry my camera with me most of the time and if something looks good or feels right I’ll shoot it. I would say I’m happy with 20% of the photos I post. Most have a meaning to me; some don’t, but they look nice.

Some of your multiple exposures feature people with their eyes covered by words, and in some instances this may be interpreted as a political message. Do you think the importance of your photography lies more in aesthetics, or in the ability to convey a message?

The importance of photography lies in the ability to convey a message. Unfortunately, I’m not really good at conveying messages through my photos, and if I do, I don’t mean to. My [photographs] are mostly aesthetics, they’re just memories, parts of what I feel, what I see. I see them as a photo diary.

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What film do you prefer to use? Do you ever shoot digital?

My go-to film at the moment is Lomo 400, I love the tones on this one, especially for night photography. I do [shoot digital] from time to time, usually for commissioned work. I own a Fujifilm X100T.

If you were to summarise your photography, and your relationship to it, in 5 words, what would you say?

Memories, Loss, Dreams, Loneliness & Nostalgia.

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See more of Louis Dazy's work here.

Kyle Waszkelewicz | Now Here

It’s about the fragile moments of beauty and light that become so important to notice when the world seems bleak. Being a person can be awful sometimes and the world can suck. But even then - especially then - you can find these little glimmers if you pay attention and look out for them. They become really valuable and worth hanging on to. Kind of like when you’re in a dark room and can start to see faint hints of light after a while.
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Now Here is the touching new book from Brooklyn-based photographer, Kyle Waszkelewicz. The book features analogue photography inspired by his own personal struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, and explores the importance of noticing the small glimpses of beauty which occur every day in a world that can at times seem dark and hopeless.

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"The series is inspired by my own struggles with a personality disorder. Borderline is characterised by really strong emotional reactivity - a lot of intense feelings and reactions and basically just a high level of moodiness. You can easily get caught up in things and become overwhelmed, and pretty quickly end up in that hole where everything looks its worst. You hate yourself and everything around you and being there is a nightmare. I’ve learned that when I’m there the best thing I can do is acknowledge and accept what I’m feeling, and to try and stay present and stay aware of what I’m experiencing. In that mindset I’m not as overwhelmed, I’m just kind of there observing. And if I put in the effort to try and notice any traces of light in the world around me that can otherwise feel so dark, I’ll see some and they’ll be really helpful. But I have to keep an eye out, because though they’re beautiful and elegant they’re also easily missed. So the photos are about those fleeting moments you’ll only find if you’re looking, and the project is about that presence. I guess my goal with the series is to hopefully inspire that same kind of mindfulness in others."

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The book is available for purchase here.

Guest Post | Important Nothings

I feel that I have momentarily lost touch with beauty, but I want it in every way. I want creation, and rain, and dim lights, and poetry, and melancholy music, and wispy fabric that dances with the sun floating through it, and good films and friendship, but mostly creation and good art: real, heartfelt, breathtaking art, because it is one of the greatest things we know and beauty is the most important thing in the world.
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I am a paradox - we all are. It is merely an inexorable consequence of the absurdity that subsists between the cold indifference of the world, and our poignantly fragile, interminable yearning for a narrative, a purpose with which to saturate our days. Often, these manifest little contradictions give rise to confusion, despair, and a dizzying fear of aimlessness. Yet it is this fragility itself, a plain submission to tenderness and nostalgia, distinct from and not predicated upon any further objective or pursuit, within which the greatest potential for an animated human life inheres. There is no more lucid a submission of this kind than the creation of art.

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Through photography, I venture to appeal to the richness of the glimpses of beauty and sentiment that are available to us in the ordinary routines that we inhabit; to highlight the quiet madness, the little sorrows lingering amidst pleasures that are often ignored. They have a kind of poignant, melancholic charm. This endeavour tends to yield a qualitatively different perspective through which the world may be viewed: one of simplicity and curiosity, of empathy and delicacy. Purposelessness loses face, and life is dignified anew. For a photographer of this persuasion, art may often consist not in creation as much as in chronicling. The lens becomes a study of stories and the people that have participated in them, and there is a particular sort of regality, an intimacy with the world that burgeons through this interaction. It is remarkably unexacting — and extravagantly gratifying — to expose oneself to what is already taking place.

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It is, however, not without its afflictions. Immersed in an environment completely independent of — and frequently indifferent to — art, it can be an elusive thing, sufficiently fleeting that one forgets its memory until its whole absence is felt profoundly and harrowingly. One aspect of the atmosphere in which I study that is easy to lose oneself in is the one in which the doctrines of quantification, mathematical precision, and logical utility supersede those of sensitivity, benevolence and warmth. Of course it is unsurprising that this transition does materialise intermittently, both in the mind and really, in the general surroundings, given the nature of my academic pursuits.

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In these new surroundings, I find I am easily becoming swept away by things that I am not as energetic about as I once imagined: they are almost the right things. I have intellectual stimulation, but I feel it comes at the cost of colour and passion.

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Indeed, it is easy to tie oneself in the convoluted argument that simple curiosity is not reason enough to lavish hours in the pursuit of this art that has no material gain or foreseeable terminus. Regardless, this notion is undesirable and suspect. I still occasionally consider the possibility of ceasing with this creation for precisely this absence of purpose, but I understand that doing so would be a contradiction, and a denial of the values I cherish. Consequently, I can only hope that, in my own mind, this argument never perseveres.

2nd December, 2016

I feel that I have momentarily lost touch with beauty, but I want it in every way. I want creation, and rain, and dim lights, and poetry, and melancholy music, and wispy fabric that dances with the sun floating through it, and good films and friendship, but mostly creation and good art: real, heartfelt, breathtaking art, because it is one of the greatest things we know and beauty is the most important thing in the world.

I use my art, therefore, as a rebellion against the unfeeling, cold, hard reason that has begun to swell within me even as I seek to defy it. There is a universe of wonder and sympathy to be lived — to be recovered — from beneath the veneer of unfeeling reason and impatient ambition.

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Kevin Shaabi is a photographer, writer, and musician born in India and raised in Singapore. Currently a student of Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the UK, he strives to pursue art with the same intensity as he does his academic life.