Shadimere Coles is a Film Club Member and is currently featured in our Film Club Member show Seasonal Reflections: Winter. His submissions to the show caught our eye so this week we decided to interview him and see a larger group of his images. Read on to get to know him and his relationship with photography more.
PL: What got you interested in photography?
SC: I’ve always been intrigued by the mysteries of time and memory, especially as a curious kid. As I grew, I questioned the ways I was affected by the aforementioned and found many of my answers through the lens of a camera. Decisive moments in time became much more tangible with the release of a shutter. In 7th grade, my parents gifted me an MP3 player with a built-in camera that I began to use to capture my first frames. As I began to understand perception, especially that of my own, I found photography allowed me to communicate my experiences and thoughts about my own existence. Over time, this focus expanded to both introspective and outward meditations.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with, and what kind of film do you usually use?
SC: Currently, I shoot most of my digital work with a Canon 6D and my iPhone 11, while most of my 35mm work is made with my Olympus point-n-shoot and Pentax K1000 SLR. In terms of the occasional 120 film, I’m an avid fan of the Holga. Despite this, I’ve always found joy in being flexible and utilizing the resources at hand to create, including camera equipment and film. While I do have favorites (Ektar 100, Ilford Delta 3200), I enjoy the characteristics found in various stocks and the ways they leave their touch on the frames themselves. Art is made with countless types of resources, and finding alternative processes has always interested me.
PL: There are a mix of color and black and white images within this collection. What are some qualities that you like about both?
SC: Although my first experience with photography was in color, my conceptual journey started with strictly black and white 35mm film. In high school I was lucky enough to dive head first into a new medium and the absence of color allowed me to focus on foundational elements that became significant to my work today: lighting, timing, frame & comp, contrast, etc. I love how black and white strips an image to its core without devaluing a scene, allowing the viewer to see a bit deeper beyond hues. On the other hand, color can serve as a huge form of communication between the artist, viewer, and world at hand. In my work I aim to use color as a vehicle for emotion, hopefully sparking movement within the viewer, no matter what feeling I was attempting to portray.
PL: Some photos in this group are of people. What do you enjoy about photographing people? What is challenging about it?
SC: After learning about the term in recent years, Sonder has been something I’ve tried to carry in my work, especially in images containing people. Sonder is defined as the profound feeling of realization that each stranger, yet alone human, contains a life just as complex as one’s own. As intrinsic or obvious as it sounds, it's been a constant theme in the ways I think about human connection and my process in shooting others. Attempting to capture these complexities has become my leading motivation and joy in photographing others; whether through abstract or conceptual frames, forming connections and juxtaposing that with the universe has become vital to my work. The relationship formed between the photographer and subject is inevitable when capturing one’s likeness; exploring that occurrence is extremely significant to me. The unpredictability when shooting people can be extremely challenging when doing street photography, especially with the added layer of chance. On the other hand, sometimes too much control in a scene can feel constrictive, ironically. I find my favorite images to be balanced in both areas.
PL: When out photographing, what are some objects or elements within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?
SC: I find my eyes are always moving toward repetition, light, and directionality. When studying a scene, I think about the way the eye wishes to move around the frame: What natural lines are forming? What areas of the frame are heavy? Soft? Instances of repetition provide texture and character to a scene while light serves as a subject itself. In most of my recent work, especially since the pandemic, I have practiced shooting through moving vehicles and found timing to be my biggest element when traveling. Intentional framing can only do so much when the passing world wishes to frame itself, therefore in these cases I rely mostly on timing as I stare through the viewfinder.
PL: Out of all of these images, which is your favorite and why?
SC: My favorite image out of this collection is that of my partner sitting on a fallen tree in black and white, with the sun peeking through the trees in the background. This image comes from a recent series entitled “Led By Light” that serves as one of my first steps into environmental portraiture: “To be led by light is to see and feel; voyage and perceive. Through ourselves and the world around us we discover beacons, leading us through futures unseen in an often tumultuous world”. This image, as well as the series it resides from, feels like a testament to these ideas and has motivated me to explore different ways of portraiture moving forward in my creative journey.
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