I'm Sarah Wanstall one of the founding members of NEG35. I tend not to focus on one specific style of photography such as street, landscape or portraiture etc., but instead shoot anything that simply catches my eye and holds my heart! I then keep it aside in my ‘collection of treasures’ (notepad and negative folder) until a fully formed concept develops. Sometimes the photograph speaks for itself, on occasions it inspires a poem and other times the poems come first and the photography follows. It is the spontaneous inspiration to simply create with no boundaries, limits or rules that I enjoy.
I find for me the best way to really spot these shots and to truly understand the beauty of form, light and subject matter etc., is through the use of film photography. With digital I believe it is easier to get caught up in the process of snapping away and it can encourage you to forget about the basics of photography because you can so easily rely on post-production to fix it later. You can ‘fix’ composition, lighting, exposure etc., after the shot is taken, however with film you are forced to think about all these aspects before you click the shutter. This means every time you take a shot, you take your time, you study what you see through the lens, you assess the light conditions – all these things are essential for good photography. This whole process helps me feel more connected to the shot and this is enhanced by the fact you can’t delete a negative there is something about it’s physical form that makes it special.
I also enjoy the breakaway from digital work, being a full time graphic designer and part-time photographer means I am often on computers using digital techniques to create my work. When I am in the darkroom I strive for ideas that are possible in Photoshop and enjoy the process and exploration of finding out how to recreate this effect using only physical form. I have experimented with multiple exposures both within the camera and while exposing directly to the paper. I have also used acetate paper to type the poems on and placed this over the paper while exposing to block out the light in certain places and create white text (as seen on Brave Spirit and Park Life). This technique requires experimenting with the developing time needed to balance the correct exposure for the image and the text simultaneously.
The process does take time and can be fiddly and I have been asked ‘You know how to use Photoshop why don’t you just do it on there, it would be so much quicker and easier?”
My answer: “When I work with film and darkroom developing techniques I feel like I am not just making another digital image to throw into the world – I am making a piece of art…”
PERSONAL WEBSITE: elixirdesigns.co.uk