Chantal is a Swiss artist, who is using film photography as a medium. Her style is characterised by mastering the ambient light available, by using it as an integral part of her work. She also shoots self-portrait as a form of self expression.
She was recently selected by “Nowhere Diary” to participate in a Polaroids Original project, to explore their photography techniques and style of Stranger Things.
She talks to artCollective about the challenges of film photography, her work philosophy and her plans.
– How did you end up in photography?
I was always interested in creating images, even though I started with painting and drawing. I got my first camera when I was 15 years old and since then I just kept taking pictures. The transition from just snapping memories to really creating something visually along my ideas as you do it with a white canvas, or shortly said, using photography as art was a long way.
– You mostly photograph in film. What are the challenges of working with film, not only at the actual shooting but in the post processing as well?
The challenge of shooting film is at the same time the thing I love most about it. It’s really hard to control exactly what you are shooting. With a lot of experience the surprises get less, but are still appearing from time to time.
Shooting film requires much more intention. You choose the color grading, the toning of the image, the graininess, black and white or color. And you also have to be so much more careful, because of the physical limitation this medium has.
I don’t develop myself. I have tried it once and it’s a nerve wrecking and beautiful process that I will certainly do again, but at the moment I work since day one with my Lab Fotohaus Basel that does an amazing job. And like this I can focus more on photographing and the Fotohaus Team takes care of the rest.
– What do you personally enjoy the most in film photography?
Besides enjoying the challenges of shooting film, I also adore the look obviously. I’m not a big fan of editing and film is images with the filter already on; so perfect for me.
I also love that film is tangible and that you have to wait for the images. Every time I’m excited to get back a film and it’s like a present you give yourself. And you can’t even cheat.
– Do you photograph digital as well?
Yes, I shoot digital as well. I like that I create with different media in photography and that I can choose them for what fits the situation. I learned using them as a perfect adaptation to what I want to do while shooting and also convey in the imagery.
I choose digital for experimenting with a lot of time and for all client work and special occasions and events.
– You take a lot of self portraits. Is it your personal form of self-expression? Do you express any self-conscious emotions?
Absolutely yes. Self-portraits are my vein to pure out all the emotions and put it together in an image for me too actually see it. Words have been not enough in a lot of occasions and I’m glad I found something that says it all without them.
Self Portraits have also something very healing. The process is self-centered as you can do it on your own. And still feeling complete.
“Self-portraits are my vein to pure out all the emotions and put it together in an image for me too actually see it”
– I have noticed that you artfully make natural light part of your photos. How important is the role of it in your creative process?
The play with the sunlight has become my most known style of photography. I once read a quote from my favorite photographer and he said something like “you should be able to create in any circumstances“ and as a beginner I was very impressed with that, as I thought that for professional photography you needed to have a studio and lights and set ups. And I started to create in my room like a maniac. And I was lucky. My room had beautiful light. I started to see it everywhere and using that natural light as a creative input; I learned to see the world with different eyes. And my next room had to be chosen by the good light obviously.
Also sunlight on skin has also something physical to me as it always implies the feeling of warmth seeing it.
– What kind of projects do you love to work on? What was your highlight project or the one that you mostly enjoyed working on?
I love all projects that begin with someone that wants to work with me because of my style. I had and still have no interest in just being “a photographer”. The best projects are those when there’s appreciation on both sides for the counterparts’ work and where I am involved because I’m ME. Everyone can handle a camera more or less, but no one can be me and sees like me.
As photography is my favourite thing in life I enjoyed most of them. But I think my favourite is the ongoing collaboration with Lamarel founder Sandra Rodrigues Pinto. We definitely share mutual respect for each other and our work, and I love the clothing she designs and the message she wants to convey. It’s almost as if her clothing line is made for my photography. We are soon planning a trip to Spain for shooting the newest pieces.
– At the moment, do you have any projects running or planned?
Yes. Quite a few. There is the big workshop I teach with my favourite self portrait artist Laura Zalenga in July. I’m literally SO nervous but also this is truly a dream come true.
Also I organize an artist gathering in Corsika in early September. If everything works out I’m gonna meet so many people I admire online for the first time in real life and going to be able to create with them.
Images – All rights reserved by Chantal Convertini