Sarah Graff was a part of PhotoLounge’s University Program with UArts last year and since then her work has caught our eye on both Instagram and in our Best of the Year gallery show. We decided to interview her this week because we wanted to see more of her photos and learn more about one of her projects.
These photos represent a part of me that I lost, I don't remember my childhood the way others seemingly can, I see it more in short blips rather than a complete picture. I knew where places that brought me joy were, but I couldn't tell you specifically what moments created that joy. I started photographing with the hopes that following this mixed feeling of familiarity and nostalgia would lead to a complete memory, and I could begin to stitch the pieces of who I once was back together to remember who I was before I grew up.
Q: What got you interested in photography?
A: I actually had an intro to film class in high school and the very first roll of film I ever developed came out completely blank except for one photo of a brick wall, I was so proud of that little overexposed brick wall I knew I had to keep going and from then on I was hooked.
Q: There are a few photos that seem to have been taken with the same camera because they all look a bit cloudy and have a similar light leak. What do you like about this effect?
A: Those came from two rolls of film that had expired in 2001. I often shoot experimentally with expired film because I love the spontaneity and mystery it can give. I like this light leak because it is creating a more dreamlike hazy effect that adds to the imagery and the nostalgic look I was going for when I took the shots.
Q: Many of your photos have a beautiful quality of light. Is there anything that you purposely do to achieve this quality? What inspires you to take photos of objects that are nicely lit?
A: I prefer natural light to flashes so whenever I spot a potential for good lighting I start moving myself around to see how it reflects on all sides. Various things about good lighting can strike me to take a photograph depending on if the composition is right and if I have a connection with the object in question, sometimes I just feel pulled to make a photograph, more of a gut feeling.
Q: Most of your photos are not portraits. Do you like taking photos of people? What do you find challenging about it?
A: I actually like taking portraits just not conventional ones. If I make a photograph with the person as the subject I need to have a connection with that person. I prefer candid photos when photographing and find it is more successful when I have a relationship with that person. I also tend to use people compositionally and more to fuel the idea within a photograph rather than have just them be the focus. I really focus on using parts to hint at the idea of a person rather than a full out portrait to give the image a sense of anonymity so the viewer can connect with the piece by placing themselves within the frame.
Q: Out of all of these images, which one is your favorite and why?
A: My favorite is currently the photograph that has a silhouette of a girl and she is looking at the camera through the haze and purples and greens, you can't make out her face but you can feel her smirking at you. It's my favorite because it encapsulates the whole project for me really, I see a young girl but can't make out who she is and I can tell she is in a dreamlike place surrounded by a carefreeness that I can't help but search for.
Q: What type of camera do you shoot with and what type of film do you usually use?
A: I have been shooting with a 35mm Minolta for the past couple months and have been using an assortment of Kodak gold 400 and expired Fujifilm.
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