Shelly Sometimes Interview

Please introduce yourself.
My name is Shelly, I live in Colorado, and I work in marketing and public relations doing graphic design as a day job. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been interested in photography, but I’ve only really gotten serious about it in the last 10 years or so. I love photography and I’ll shoot anything – from a Hasselblad to a Holga, pinholes to Polaroids!

Why do you take pictures and what does your work mean to you?
I’ve dabbled in work that’s more artistic in nature, but I think the real meaning in taking photos for me comes from documenting and preserving history; I often say that I feel more like a historian than a photographer. I’m just fascinated by the marks people leave on the world, on their cities and towns. Those marks are the evidence that we were here, that we existed. I feel as though I am having a conversation with someone who may already be long gone, and saying to them, “you made this, and you might think it was forgotten, but I have not forgotten it. And maybe, because I took this picture, others will remember too.”

Tell us about the locations/areas you choose to photograph.
I have two main projects that I work on; the first involves the highways and towns of northern to east-central New Mexico. I have family in New Mexico that I travel to see frequently, and I always take the same stretch of back roads and highways. There are little towns dotting the road along the way but, for the most part, it’s pretty open, with not a whole lot of distractions. Mostly in an effort to pass the time on these trips, I started photographing things I saw along the way. Over the years, the photography has become more than just a way to pass time on the road – it’s become pretty much the central focus of the trips themselves. The second project involves urban details, and since I live in Denver, most of my work happens there. But whatever town or city I’m in, I’m always looking out for interesting buildings, signs, and landscapes – things that tell the story of the place I’m at, and the time I’m in.

Can you elaborate a bit about your creative workflow? What sort of film/equipment do you use to create your work and how does it affect the work you produce?
The VAST majority of my work is done on film, although I’m known to use a DSLR and even my iPhone on occasion! I use a variety of cameras– I enjoy toy and pinhole cameras as much using ‘fancier’ gear like my Hasselblad 500CM or Nikon F100. I’m a firm believer in using the medium that fits the situation – whether it’s film or digital – but I enjoy the film workflow, and I like having the actual negatives as a back-up to scans. And of course, nothing beats getting prints of your photos. It’s kind of startling how quickly physical prints have become a novelty over the last few years.I like the limits that using film puts on me, too. I shoot a lot of medium format and I’ve gotten to where I actually enjoy only having 8 to 12 shots to work with – it makes me think about what I’m doing, about my composition and subject matter, and it’s cured me of the urge to ‘spray and pray’. I develop my own black and white film, and I like having total control over that process, so I find myself using it quite a bit!

Are the images in this set part of any series that you are working on? If not, are you working on any upcoming photography projects for 2016?
These images are part of the projects that I’ve described above, and right now, I anticipate continuing to work on them both in 2016. I’m always looking for new ways to document things, and roads that I haven’t taken yet.

Favorite camera/film combination?
For some months now, my favorite camera has been a Yashica T4 that I bought in a local Goodwill for $.99. (I have pretty good thrift store karma!) It isn’t much to look at – it has body damage that looks like someone’s dog might have given it a good chew – but I have put it through ALL kinds of paces and it hasn’t let me down ONCE. I’ve literally shot everything and anything on it; I carry it with me every day. It has been so good for my photography to get to know one camera, and how it works, that well. Using it now is second nature to me, and I can get the results I want with it consistently. I don’t have a favorite film per se – I don’t believe in getting married to any one stock, because availability changes so quickly – but I like black and white and E6 (slide) films the most.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Don’t worry about gear. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. If you have pictures to take, if you have a story you want to tell, don’t worry about whether or not the world will think it’s important. It’s YOUR story – tell it. If all you have is your camera phone, get out there and use your camera phone. Do not let anyone tell you that isn’t good enough.The world around us changes so much every day; I haven’t been at my urban details project all that long, and I already see several murals that no longer exist, a couple of buildings that have been leveled, etc. So maybe what I’m shooting is not important – but, maybe, it is.

You can find more of Shelly’s work at her website, and via instagram at: @shelly.sometimes.