Samantha Kelly brings her creativity to every shoot. I took one look at her blog and was wowed. Blur, multiple exposures, reflections, and other creative techniques all combined with an outstanding ability to document the families and love in front of her. And it’s all on film… love, love, love.
I think it’s safe to say that we all want to be different, to stand out from the crowd, to develop our own voice and vision. Different is good. People are drawn to what’s different. But, in a sea of photographers, how in the world do we actually become different?
A little over a year ago, I did something a little crazy. I switched from shooting digital to shooting 100% film. I purchased a Canon eos3 and after only 2 rolls of my first 35mm film, I just knew there was no going back for me.
Kids are fast and unpredictable and have short attention spans and don’t listen and cry sometimes and stuff! YES. And that’s exactly what makes shooting children and families so very thrilling and rewarding. It’s also what makes shooting children and families on film one of the most exhilarating creative challenges ever.
Film is different. Now, my creative process is much more focused and slow and intentional. Sure I still go with what’s happening in the moment and want to capture those kind of playful interactions, but I also have a number of very clear images in my head that I want to try and create at some point during every session.
This process always starts with my notebook- before I even get to the shoot. I draw out different compositions and scribble down notes of things I want to attempt and ways I want to push myself out of my comfort zone, out of my box of “normal.” I like stuff that feels kind of weird, unexpected, and- above else- a little bit quirky. That’s my creative “home” and where I feel most happy. The film forces me to really “show up” to every shoot. It’s either be completely present and work to really GET the kind of creative imagery I want out of every frame or…don’t and waste money.
I love capturing moments that feel intriguing, that pull the viewer in, leave you wanting more, and create more questions than answers. Every family has a story to tell and even in a 60-90 minute photo session, there are bits and pieces and essences of that story to discover and preserve in a photograph. Along with the fleeting moments, there is also an opportunity to use the family as the most amazing subjects in a kind of painting. To pose them and position them and move them around like paint on a canvas. Forming creative film images from the chaos and love of a family is what makes my photographer heart beat fast.
Being different, to me, is about feeling the fear and doing it anyways. It’s doing what is uncomfortable and scary and allowing ourselves to feel that level of vulnerability. When we open up to the unknown, that’s when we also put ourselves in a place to do something hard but so important and valuable. Being different is an ongoing, uphill battle. But it’s a fight that I live for. I’m still working on it, still exploring, and sometimes taking two steps back and one step forward but I’m really trying. I’m striving to be brave and take risks with my work and that’s what feels most important to me.
(I love my Mamiya 645 ProTL and Canon eos3. My favorite film for indoors is Portra 800 and for outdoors I love shooting Fuji 400h. Tri-x is my go-to black/white film.)