Ahhh! So glad to be back for the Artist Spotlight feature! I have missed it so much since I interviewed our last photographer.
Today, I am bringing you Carrie Geddie! She is one of my favorite film photographers. Her work is full of fun and delight just like her personality! It is truly a joy to be able to sit down and get to know Carrie a little deeper...
1. To start off our interview, I would love to know how did you first get into photography? Do you have a formal education in photography or self-taught?
As I look back, I have always been a photographer. My first camera was a disc camera (I realize I am dating myself here!) and then I graduated to point and shoot (film) cameras, which I used to capture friends at school and family vacations. I took photography in high school and used my dad's Pentax Spotmatic II (still have it!), and loved developing black and white in the darkroom. So while I always loved photography, it never occurred to me that it could be my job. I went to college for political science and finally came back to photography seriously in 2007 with my first DSLR. After that, the obsession was fast and furious. I took classes locally, read books and online forums, and chatted with new friends about anything and everything photography.
2. Have you always shoot on film? What is that "thing" about film that keep you wanting to shoot film in this digital, pixel peeping photography world today?
I think that because I am self-taught, I've always had a hard time feeling like a legitimate photographer. In my world, you go to school to get an education in something and that's how you define and prove yourself. I didn't have that with photography. In 2012, I started hearing about people shooting film again and I thought that if I could remember how to shoot film, maybe I would feel more legitimate. That if I could create a beautiful image and properly expose it on film, maybe I'd finally feel like a "real" photographer. So, as a personal challenge, I bought some Portra 400 and a Canon Elan 7e. And then pretty quickly after that, a Mamiya RZ Pro II.
Getting scans back for the first time was a revelation. What I'd seen through the viewfinder was perfectly represented in front of me. My second roll through the RZ was when I really fell hard for film. My eyes welled with tears as I saw a black & white photo that I'd taken of my boys in their room, waking up from a nap with their stuffed animals. It is just the purest image, beautiful in its simplicity and grain. I was completely hooked. Since then, I've tried many cameras, film stocks and labs, but the thing that keeps me shooting film is the heart of it. I lost my mom to cancer in 2000, and have looked through all our photo albums to find pictures of me with her from when I was little. I found many from family vacations, with the whole family in them, but only three pictures of just the two of us from when I was a kid. Just three. And they were all shot on film, this tangible thing that preserves our memories. So, even though my mom is not here, that negative still is. Shooting my personal work on film just became so important to me after that realization.
3. What I love about your work, Carrie, is that you seem to capture that genuine bond between your subjects. Whether it's a portrait of your own boys or a lifestyle session of clients. What is one advice you can give to Little Bellow fans who are struggling to capture "the moment"?
Wow, Joyce, thank you so much. That is exactly what I am trying to achieve and I am so thrilled that you see that in my work. Everyone has their own shooting style, but for me, I try to set it up and then be ready for the moment. Being a good listener and observer helps, as well as knowing what makes people tick. So, I try to create a situation that is likely to produce a real moment or reaction, and if that doesn't work, I try to make them laugh!
4. I think one of the struggles as a mother is finding the balance between work and family time. How do you balance the two?
Oh no, I am terrible at that! Although, this school year has been better. When my boys are at school, I reply to emails, edit and blog. When they're home, all work (usually, ahem) waits until after they're in bed or the next morning. It's so hard! The main problem for me is my iPhone - Instagram in particular! I'm totally addicted to Instagram but am working at setting the phone down at night and disconnecting.
5. If you have one piece of advice you can give to those who are just starting out in film photography, what would it be and why?
Try as many different cameras and stocks as you can! Even if you think you like cool tones and will love 400H, shoot some Portra 400 and see what you think. Try each film in 35mm and 120, because they perform differently. Try different lenses, cameras and labs. If you're not happy with your scans, call the lab and ask them questions. When I was first starting in film, I did a personal project where I shot a different stock (and tried to shoot different cameras) every month. That project taught me so much about what I liked and what I didn't. And don't worry about what camera or stock everyone else is shooting with, just start experiment what with you can get your hands on to find out what is most YOU!
6. If you can spend one day with one person (present or past), who will it be and what would you talk about?
Well, this is pretty easy. I would choose my mom and I would be talking nonstop to catch her up on life in the past 15 years!
7. What are some of your favorite cameras and equipment that you can't do without on a client session? Do the setups change for personal work? If yes, can you share what are your must haves for for personal work?
For clients, I shoot my Pentax 645N and sometimes also my Canon 5d mk II, I cannot lie! Just depends on how fast the kiddos are moving or what is going on. For my personal work, I probably shoot the Pentax 645N with the 75mm lens the most - I just love that focal length on that camera and everything about how it performs just feels right. I also shoot a Pentax 67, Canon Elan 7e, my son's AE-1 and sometimes a Holga for fun. And I'm currently borrowing a Hasselblad 500 c/m from a friend and fighting the urge to add one to my collection!
8. What or whom do you draw your inspiration from?
I could answer Richard Avedon or Robert Frank, but honestly, it's motherhood. I am always trying to think about the moments I will want to remember and the things my boys will appreciate when they grow up. Losing my mom was an indelible moment in my life and has greatly impacted the way I see photography and its value. I always tell clients that they may think the images we create are for them now, but they're really for their children in the future.
9. If you can go back in time and do it all over again, what would you do differently and why?
I wouldn't change a thing. Everything in your life brings you to where you are today and forms the person you become. For me, there's no sense in second guessing any of it. I try to take what I can from my experiences (be they good or bad) and figure out how to make what happens next more meaningful because of them.
10. What are your favorite artists on your play list right now? Right now, we're listening to a huge variety of stuff! I'm in the process of educating my kids about all different kinds of music, so we might be listening to anything from Eric Church, to the Platters, Wilco, or Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Ok, here goes the "quick shooter"! I am going to ask you a question and you answer it with whatever comes to you first....here we go:
"I wish my kids would hurry up and go to sleep so I can watch..." Narcos on Netflix! And I can't forget about Homeland, Better Call Saul and Nashville!
A quote you live by: Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.
Where is the most exotic place you have ever been? Does Barbados count? Yeah, I didn't think so...
The first item on your bucket list: To spend a night in the tree house we are building for our boys in our backyard!
Your favorite hobbies beside photography: Caffeinating (daily), volunteering (at my kids' school), walking/running (when motivated), and eating (at great local restaurants).
Beer or wine? Beer AND wine!
Flip flops, sneakers or sexy stilettos? Flip flops. You can take the girl out of Southern California, but not the flip flops off the girl...
Car, Train or Airplane? Road trip!
Two truths and a lie: I used to work at MTV, I'm left handed, and I'm a lawyer.