Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interview with Edie Sunday

Edie Sunday, a 24 year-old American film photographer, is also a graduate student pursuing her Ph.D in psychology in Austin, Texas. She loves to shoot on film only and "uses improvised techniques to create vivid, obscure images, reminiscent of those I see in my sleep."

Edie who had featured on Shooting Film with another name Morgynn Haner shoots mostly portrait on instant films, especially multiple exposure. Today she would like to share her photography experience with us in an interview.

- Hi Edie, can you introduce some more about you?
 Hi! I am a 24-year-old graduate student pursuing my PhD in psychology in Austin, TX. I am an all-analog photographer who uses improvised techniques to create vivid, obscure images, reminiscent of those I see in my sleep. In a broad sense, art allows me to honor the temporariness of my existence and discover a personal meaning to life that sets me free. My art is about sharing intimate pieces of my own experience, and from that, finding a sense of deep connection with others.

- How did you get started and interested in film photography?
 I first encountered film photography as a small child. By nature I am a passionate and obsessional person. My brain is wired such that when I fall in love with something, or someone, it is all consuming and everything else falls away. This is what happened when my young grandmother (who raised me) first handed me her Polaroid Spectra, circa 1996. She wasn't a photographer and she kept these consumer model Polaroids around mainly to document my childhood. Anyway, the moment she handed me the camera I turned the lens on her forevermore, and started following her around the house-- taking instant snapshots of her posing in whatever elaborate outfit she was wearing on that day, or just putting on her makeup, or even crying. I guess she's the first woman I ever shot! And she is definitely a huge influence on my infatuation with feminine beauty and emotion. I rarely shoot Polaroid integral film nowadays, but when I do I'm always taken back to the days when it was just her and I, and we'd dance to Charlie Rich and wait for the images appear on the film.

- Do you remember what was your first film camera? What are cameras you use now?
 Well, my first film camera was the Polaroid Spectra I was speaking of in the last question, so I'll focus on the next. From there, I acquired just about every consumer model Polaroid available in the 1990s. But my first non-instant film camera was my dad's old 35mm that he used for nature photography. It was 2004 and he upgraded to digital, and he passed down his early 1990s Canon Rebel to me. That camera changed my life. I can't tell you how long it took me to figure out how to work it and how many rolls of film I wasted, but once I finally taught myself the basics of 35mm photography, I couldn’t stop shooting. I don’t use that camera much anymore, but it has a special place in my collection and I’ll keep it until the day I die.

 What cameras do I use now? Well, being obsessional, I've been collecting cameras for over ten years. I'll narrow it down to the cameras I shoot with the most:

_ 35mm: Canon A-1; 28mm and 50mm lens; monochrome film (self-processed and very often manipulated in the darkroom), color negative and color slide film. Pentax Spotmatic II; Helios-44M 58mm lens. I like to shoot my “difficult” film in this camera, and by difficult I mean film that I’ve chemically altered that doesn’t like to pull through some of my more delicate cameras. The Pentax is small but beastly!

_ Medium Format: Mamiya RB67; 90mm, 150mm, and 180mm lens. 120 roll film back and Polaroid pack film back. I primarily shoot expired Polacolor with this camera but when I’m out of it I’ll shoot the newer Fuji instant films and some roll film (monochrome and color).

_ Large Format: A compact old 4x5 press camera, the Graflex Crown Graphic with a beautiful Zeiss
lens that I was lucky enough to acquire with the camera body. I shoot both monochrome and color negative/slide sheet film with this camera, as well as expired Polaroid and Fuji 4x5 pack film using a different back. Although the 4x5 pack films are extremely rare to come by now, I have the Polaroid back that allows me to shoot smaller (regular sized) polaroid pack film with this camera as well. I’ve also recently acquired a 120 roll film back for it, but I haven’t had the time to experiment yet.

_ Polaroid: I don’t use my Polaroid Land Camera model 100 very much anymore, as I’ve become accustomed to having more exposure control with my Polacolor with the Mamiya, but it is one of the most important cameras I’ve ever owned. I found it at an antique shop when I was 16, just two years before Polaroid stopped producing pack film, and documented much of my life between 2006-2008 with this camera. I’m in the process of “reviving it,” meaning I’ve sealed its light leaks and painted its bellows a distinct mustard yellow! I’ve also recently started using my SX-70 again, now that I’ve started to love the look and feel of Impossible Project film and have even found ways to restore old time zero film!

- What does photography mean to you?
 It means something different to me every day and every time I shoot. Sometimes it means release and relaxation. Sometimes it means creative self-expression. Sometimes it means truly connecting with another human being to create something meaningful. Sometimes it means freedom, and sometimes it means art, and sometimes it means both. I have a tendency to live in my own head, and photography enables me to take some of that strangeness that festers up there and use it as a means to interpret and connect with the world around me. My photos are both a part of me and a part of the world around me. It's how I make sense of it all. Photography is a part of who I am, and will be a part of my journey of self-discovery for my entire life. I hope that someday my photography can inspire others and become a part of their journey as well.

- Your photograph mainly girls, why this choice?
 I think it might have something to do with the fact that I've struggled my whole life to connect to my femininity and emotionality and to be proud of those things. Photographing intriguing and emotionally evocative women has helped me to own this part of myself, and to find beauty in the parts of being female that aren't often emphasized. We are strange and powerful creatures, and society has always done a very good job of making women ashamed of their true nature. We are sent so many mixed messages in our lives-- "your lot in life is to cook and clean and rear children and learn to enjoy the grocery store and a glass of wine in the bubble bath because that's all you're gonna get," or "hey, yeah, show us your big boobs and spread your legs on this motorcycle because that's sexy and we can see you as an object that way," BUT "don't cry, don't be vulnerable, don't find your true self and be powerful and beautiful in a way that we aren't capable of understanding because that's far too threatening." I guess I just want to show women to the world as we truly are, and that might get dark sometimes, but it's real.

- Do you have any tips for someone who’s just picking up a film camera?
 Art is a personal journey. Don't stress yourself out about what you want to shoot. Just start shooting. Run into the woods alone with a self-timer and take self-portraits. If you really want to get outside of your comfort zone and grow internally, take unabashed nude self-portraits. You don’t have to show them to anyone but it’s incredibly liberating and a way to discover yourself through your camera. Don't worry about what film you're shooting. Buy the cheap stuff at the grocery store. But do learn to understand exposure and lighting and the physics of photography. Get to know your camera, even if it's plastic. You don't need an expensive camera to create beautiful art. Don't be afraid to try new ideas and waste rolls. Don't be conservative with your (cheap) film. Be spontaneous, be daring, and experiment! Ask strangers if you can take their photo. Make friends with fellow film photographers and collaborate and learn from one another. Oh, and especially don't ever worry about what anyone else thinks of your work. In the beginning, and really always, your work is for you. Don't let fear of negative judgment hold you back in your journey. Creating art is for your own soul, and sharing art only serves the purpose of connecting with and enriching the souls of others.

Edie, thank you for the interview!

See more of her work at:

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