Your Team, 17×17”, Inkjet Print, 2013
AltDaily: Do you remember the first picture you took? What was it and why did you take it?
Caro: I don’t remember the first picture I took, but I do have a picture of me taking the first picture I took, which replaces remembering taking that picture or having that picture that I took, which I don’t.
Why did you decide to use a camera to express your ideas?
I think I was drawn in initially by the sheer magic of it. I won a contest when I was nine with a photograph of a red apple, which meant I was good at something that I liked doing. So I pursued it. This magic expanded when I started working in the darkroom, which became my sort of teenage after school hide out until it was time to apply to college. So, I found a way to keep doing it and headed to art school in Boston. Eventually, photography appealed to a desire for finding the everyday within unfamiliar experience in lieu of a stationary studio practice. My work has evolved research-wise, but a desire to go, move and see has stayed the same.
What kind of cameras do you use?
I do not discriminate against any lens. That said, I do prefer film, and shoot a lot of it, but am not anti-digital, and in fact just bought a new DSLR that I am really excited about. My collection of cameras is fairly extensive, though I usually default to my Hasselblad 500 CM, the square medium format film camera that I have shot with for the last 15 years. Others include an Sx-70 polaroid, a Leica, an old land camera, a Pony camera, Lumix Panasonic Point and Shoot, disposable cameras (the cheaper the better), a Ricoh 35mm (my first), i-zones, Iphones, a Mamiya 645, a Holga. Most recent acquisition: an underwater diving camera.
How do the traditional methods of the darkroom and chemical photography compare to digital photography?
In some ways they are very similar, in others unrelated. The photographic image is present in both. One major difference between analog and digital is the duration between looking and seeing. This goes for the experience of shooting and postproduction edits/ printing. A lot of people ask me why I still shoot film, now that digital technology is such a viably high quality and affordable option. Basically, I don’t want to see what I’m doing. I like not having the option of immediate review. Shooting photos takes me to remote locations where the experience of getting lost and being somewhat cut off is part of the work. I develop that film, then scan, edit and print it digitally, which places me on both sides of the analog-digital divide. And I love it, because I prefer shooting film, but not printing in the wet color darkroom. I enjoy spending days shooting, and then rediscovering these places and moments later. My mind has shifted, time has gone by. This is a way of feeling time less as a trajectory and more as a series of moments happening out of order that can be translated similarly. Analog processes leave space for unknowing, for a tactile experience, for slowing down. Digital photography is about efficiency, multiplicity, and an incredibly high level of control. Both have a place in the medium, and in my practice they are interchangeable and interdependent.
Sun Spot, 20×20”, Inkjet Print, 2012
You are old enough to understand and have used both film and digital cameras. Very few artists choose to use film for cost and availability of materials. As the digital divide grows, how do you feel photography is being developed or defined now?
I majored in photography at a time that analog was the basis of our program. It wasn’t until my last semester as a BFA candidate that I was introduced to Photoshop. In grad school six years later, many had shifted to digital or some combination of the two, as I had. I feel very lucky to have spanned that transition. Now I teach digital and analog photography, and the experience of both worlds is something that I’m happy to be able to speak to in my classroom.
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