Saturday, 3 November 2012

Holly Kerchner

Montana - Florida

In the description of your work "Free Life" you write that it is about living life "victoriously". What do you mean by this?

Living life victoriously means finding what you're looking for. It doesn't refer to satisfaction exactly, but the knowledge that you're making progress - that you're a step closer. In my case it means getting a glimpse of true freedom, which is the simplest term I can use to describe what I am seeking in this world. It has a lot to do with courage and adventure, but to me it’s even more than that. For me it's about finding ways to be courageous and adventurous on an otherwise ordinary, daily level.

You chose to shoot most pictures of this series in black/white. Is there a specific reason for this?

When I began shooting this last summer, I was dead-set on concentrating on emotion in my project. Although beauty and creativity are also vital, emotion was my main focus: I wanted it to be something tangible within each photograph. I believe that black and white is the best for this, because it takes away the distraction of hues and saturation. Instead it brings out the play of light on a subject, which has always elicited more of an intuitive reaction, at least in my experience. But just to add, when I say ‘distraction’ I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I am in love with colour! It just wasn’t part of how I laid out my photography projects until now.

You're located in Florida. How does living there inspire you for your photographic work?

That's tough to answer, because I don't shoot in Florida very much. Mountains and wilderness inspire me more than anything, and that makes it quite tough for me to spend the majority of my year here in the South. I'm learning to make the best of my situation. I'm learning that I have to find beauty no matter where I am, even if it takes more work sometimes. I do love the salt marshes and marine wildlife here, and I hope to explore around a lot more to get a taste of that. I also love the Southern culture, and that is definitely one thing that inspires my work, even if I haven't sufficiently captured it yet.

Do you intend to pursue or are you currently enrolled in courses related to photography or visual arts in college as well?

I would love to take classes in photography, especially because I have never had the opportunity to work in a darkroom, which is my absolute dream. However, I am still at a point where I am too chained by practicality to sign up for them, but I hope to wriggle free a little bit in the future and to delve into at least one or two classes, because I expect that to be an incredible experience.

What do you cherish most about shooting in nature?

The thing I love most about the outdoors is watching other people enjoy it. I love capturing others' experiences in nature because the art of appreciation is one of those liberating aspects that I mean when I talk about freedom. I like to shoot self-portraits in nature because that's where I feel most at home, and I like to see that reflected in a solid image that will remind and comfort me when I'm stuck in the city.

What are you working on currently?

I just bought a Mamiya 645 1000S and I am working on breaking it in! I am psyched to try out medium format, but I am a little intimidated because I am not sure where I want to go with it. Besides that I am mustering up the courage to ask my barely-familiar classmates and neighbours to let me photograph them, and I am focusing on developing the self-discipline to shoot as much during the school year as I did this summer. My work will definitely be different in this extremely different environment.

What or who has been inspiring you most lately?

Over the summer I found this book, Photo TrouvĂ©e (put out by Phaidon), at a library bookstore, and became completely mesmerized by it. The book features anonymous amateur 35mm film, which is absolutely my favourite breed of photograph. That's definitely a constant inspiration. Besides that I'm inspired to be around so many artists and talented young people now that I am at college, it's very encouraging. Of course I am always finding artists on tumblr and flickr who blow me away, the most recent name that comes to mind is Lisa Smit: her work is beautiful.

Why did you choose to concentrate on analogue photography?

To me, there is nothing in the world that can match the beauty of analogue photography; just the feel of it, the textures, grain and colours. I think that film photographs are more authentic than any art form I've ever encountered. Even the light leaks feel honest, even though, unlike many people, they usually bother me. Besides the images themselves, the process of shooting analogue is a thrill like no other. Film photography provides an opportunity to enjoy two dimensions of photography: shooting and seeing. When you shoot a photograph without seeing it instantaneously, it gives your imagination more room, to see it in your head first and foremost. And that mental image is, at least to me in a lot of ways, just as important as the real thing.

Do you have any set aims or guidelines for your work?

Consistency. Shooting often and more creatively, but staying focused on using my photographs to communicate, not just to please the eye. I should probably set loftier goals than that, but right now I am just trying to get back into shooting regularly. Also, collaborating is something I would like to try!

Summer's over, what do you think will you miss most?

Oh, man, there is nothing I won't miss about summer: traveling, meeting people, spending hours wandering around on my bike or in the woods. I had so much time to think and write and photograph. But it was pretty lonely! The month I spent on the Port Orchard peninsula near Seattle, WA, my parents were the only people that I knew in the whole area. It was a really good opportunity to work on self-portraits, and I produced a lot of work I am really proud of, but it was pretty sad after it got dark every night and I would sit on my couch eating corn chips and watching Frasier for hours in a practically empty house... And of course, the other half of my summer I returned to my home in Montana, where there are endless bonfires, folk music jammin', hiking, and just living the dream. I can't wait to go back!

Allow me to say that sometimes, it's not about our collected achievements, but about what we're setting out to do. Take a look at her work!

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