Erica Smith is a Film Club Member whose work caught our eye. Her photos have a calm and almost ethereal quality to them so this week we decided to interview her! Scroll down to get to know her more and see a group of her photographs.
PL: What got you interested in photography?
ES: I started playing around with photography when I was 14 or 15 and I took a bunch of photography classes throughout high school and college. At the time I was mostly taking pictures of my friends goofing off, or landscapes from nearby parks or hikes I went on. Photography was and remains one of the most satisfying modes of artistic expression for me. I love that the simple act of holding a frame up to the world allows me to communicate my unique perspective to others - drawing their attention to the things that I love and the magic moments in everyday life.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?
ES: About 20 years ago I heard about the Holga and bought one, then I let it sit untouched until January of this year. It’s a Holga 120N and I am still experimenting with what type of film to use. I bought a bunch of roles of 120 film at first (Portra 160, Ektar 100, Ilford HP5) but then I found a whole stash of 35mm film in my house that has been expired for over 10 years, so I adapted the camera to take that film, which has mostly come out just fine (the black and white seems to hold up better than the color). I love the Holga because it forces me to let go of my expectations of perfection, embracing the light leaks and graininess that create that #holgamagic.
PL: There are a mix of black and white and color photos within this collection. What are some qualities that you like about both black and white and color film?
ES: I prefer to shoot in color because the interplay of color in a landscape or a scene is often what catches my eye and makes me grab for my camera to capture a moment. But my expired film stash is mostly black and white, so I’m working my way through it and enjoying how it makes me look at light and shadow in a different way. Black and white also makes everything more dramatic and moody, which is fun too.
PL: There are a mix of subjects within this collection of photos from cityscapes to people to more rural scenes. When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?
ES: I’m drawn to complex natural shapes combined with industrial or geometric shapes, creating new patterns and textures within an image that make it almost abstract. The Holga is amazing for that because you can create multiple exposures in a single frame and overlay the textures that way. I also love capturing the moods and personalities of my children, preferably in candid shots so their true nature shines through.
PL: Some of your photos are taken at creative angles. When photographing, what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
ES: I remember studying Joe Meyerowitz’s work in photography class in college, particularly his project Cape Light. He wrote that he tried to create images that could be viewed upside down and still convey the same emotion (or, at least that’s the sentiment that stuck with me). I think about that a lot when I’m taking pictures. I also think about how to lead the viewer's eye through the image, especially if there are a ton of textures mixed together. And then sometimes I’m just thinking, “ooh, pretty!”
PL: Out of all of these images, which photo is your favorite and why?
ES: I think my favorite is the image of the two hoop houses and a moody cloudy sky with a leaf blowing across the top of the frame. There’s so much texture in the sky, a lot of foreboding, and so much implied life underneath the plastic that you can’t see in the image (the structures are filled with thousands of trees being protected from the winter weather). That leaf was a happy accident and I love it.
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