Monday, July 21, 2014

Interview with photographer Clair Saint Camille

What is it that attracts you the most of what you have around you?  

- The Atlantic Ocean.  I’m also very attracted to the rich history here in New England; there are Victorian books and furniture all around me, thick-blooded lobstermen stumbling in from the shores for the bars, homes of old authors and painters.  It’s all very attractive to me.

               Tell us about your experience as  photographer what did it give you?

- I think photographing has given me a different strategy for experiencing places and people.  Now I rarely take photos of things that are just happening around me, documentarily, I actually live in moments and places, and instead take photos of moments I’m authoring.  And because I’ve been so concerned with clothes and colours in my photography, I find I’m paying more attention to the outfits people are wearing around me, or the play of colours of structures and nature.

                 Three adjectives to describe yourself.

- Introspective.  Silly.  Out-of-place.

                A film, a book and a song

Claire’s Knee (1970), War and Peace (1869), “What If” by Palpitation.  

              What camera do you use?  lense?

- I collect cameras, so I end up using a variety.  Canon Ae1, Pentax K1000, Argus C3, Zenit B, Canon Sureshot, Polaroid Spectra, Polaroid Automatic 100, are the ones I’ve most used.  As far as lenses, I stick to or near 50mm, something that goes to f/2 or 1.8ish.

             Tell about exhibition if you ‘ve had any.

- I haven’t exhibited anything yet--I’d like to.  I’m staying alert for opportunities.

            Do you sell prints? How do you make it and where can someone buy?

- I don’t sell prints at the moment.  If I end up selling anything, I will provide the links and protocols on, for sure.

            What was your most big success? 

- I’m pretty excited about this interview.  Any time I am honoured with the privilege of sharing my work on some venue where admirable artists share their work, I feel lucky.  And I definitely feel lucky that I’m alive and increasingly connected with a network of young photographers who look to me like impending giants.  I mean--Can Dagarslani, Leanne Surfleet, Tina Sosna, Tamara Lichtenstein, Cristobal Escanilla (cabinadelafoto), Anna Marcell, Sophie van der Perre, Sophie Fontaine (SoWiLd), Annija Muizule... I could go on... these artists are doing great things, and I sometimes wonder how awesome they’ll be in ten or twenty years, assuming they stick with it.  I’m lucky to just be in that general age group, and aware of work like that.

           Favourite photographer.

- It’s tough to say.  Sophie van der Perre or Michal Pudelka, usually.  Can Dagarslani has been blowing my mind with his newer work.

            Describe some of your projects

I typically work on colours.  There’s a lot of green here in New England, so green ends up prevailing in a lot of my projects.  But for a while I’ve been shooting expired film, the particular batch of which has been attributing a sort of pink to my photos, which I like.  I bought some different rolls of expired film the other day, some rolls of old Chinese film, and a roll of some film from Seattle, so I’ll see what comes of those.  I like when one colour dominates the photo; that seems less like reality and more like idealism. 

My favourite projects are whenever I get to reference something I like.  I did a shoot based on a scene from the Czech New Wave film Daisies, which was fun, and involved greens; apples and pretty leaves, dresses.  I incorporated some antique hardcovers of Balzac into a shoot (I love Lost Illusions, speaking of a book).  Any time I can make an homage to some film or literature I like, I’m happy about it.  For a long time I’ve wanted to do an Anna Karina shoot, whatever that would mean.

            Your main concept.

- Tenderness

           What is your occupation, job, interest besides photography.

- I’m a counsellor/teacher at a private high school.  I wouldn’t consider photography a job, because I’ve never earned a penny by it.  Photography is more an obsession.
           Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?

- You’ve got to put a lot of money in, to get any back.  Pay attention to your inspirations.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Take risks, even if you’re scared (to send an email, or show up in an office, or ask some rando if you can photograph them, etc).  Embrace the things that help you improve yourself, keep up with social media.  Take photographs a lot.

          Do you work as photographer? 

- It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like something I need.

            Your plans.

- To continue photographing, and experimenting.  I’m keeping my eyes open for a cool new (old) camera to play around with.  I plan to look around the antique dealers some more.  I also hope to have a few definitive photographic relationships with a magazine or a few, and some exhibitors/galleries--to have some stable places to show my work and collaborate with people.

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