| Edited by Ronnie |
Today we bring you a new series, in which we talk to storytellers and memory keepers whom we admire and find out how they are each preserving their personal stories. Our first interview is with Azzari Jarrett, a film photographer whose work I have followed for a number of years now. Her images are always evocative, and her ability to capture light and shade inspires me endlessly.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your family.
My name is Azzari and I love to design, document, and photograph – mostly with film. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, with my husband and three daughters.
How long have you been shooting film?
In 2010 I bought a used Pentax 35mm manual film camera that was clearly older than me. I remember how I carefully composed each shot, and when I picked up that first roll of film, it came out completely blank! I was crushed. But I didn’t let that stop me. In fact, it motivated me to truly learn my craft. Little did I know how much I would fall in love with film. Since then, I have expanded my collection to include medium format film as well as instant film photography.
What is it about film that makes it special for you?
With my DSLR, I felt that my images had to be polished, precisely focused, and, in a word – perfect. With film, I embrace all of the imperfections I capture, which is a direct reflection of my life – imperfect, but still beautiful. Years ago, I loved the fact that my DSLR allowed me to slow down and actually see the world. But somewhere along the way, I started taking the instant gratification for granted, shooting way more than I needed. Film has forced me to slow down and compose my images and pay attention to my camera settings. With film, I make no alterations; life is captured as it is the very moment I press the shutter. For me, film has a different beauty, one that I have grown to love. All of the imperfections that I notice and correct in my digital shots, I embrace in my film shots. The grain, the creamy texture – there really is nothing quite like film.
What is your biggest tip for someone wanting to learn film photography?
My advice would be to photograph every day and experiment with different film, light, and settings in order to find your style. Keep a camera with you no matter where you are, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
How do you decide when to take a photo with a film camera, your SLR, or your iPhone?
When deciding on a film camera, I usually take into consideration the time of day, the light available, and which film is loaded in the camera. Mornings or evenings, I’ll choose a camera loaded with film at a higher ISO. In broad daylight, I’ll usually grab one of my instant cameras. But it mainly comes down to which film I have on hand. I use my DSLR to photograph my Project Life layouts. I also use my DSLR for portraits of the girls. I keep my iPhone on hand to capture bits and pieces of my day to post to my Instagram feed and also to document my days.
What sort of memory keeping do you do these days?
Over a year ago, I started a simple form of documenting our family stories through Project Life. I was drawn to the tangible aspects of combining my photography with words. I have been amazed at how much I enjoy this creative outlet. As the weeks went by, I found that I loved combining my pictures with journaling cards and watching the story of my family unfold. It is truly the simple, everyday moments that I love documenting the most. I love that my girls often grab my albums and can easily spend an hour looking at the pictures and stories.
Can you tell us about your process for combining your photos with stories and words?
I am making a serious effort to combine my love of film and documenting. I've asked myself time and time again – what exactly does that look like? Should I slip actual film photos into pockets? How can I combine these two interests? I've really struggled with that, but I am making a serious effort this year to push my boundaries and see where it takes me.
What are the stories that you want to preserve, for yourself and for your family?
I want to preserve the everyday stories of my family. I realise that what is our "normal" now, will not always be that way. I try not to focus on documenting "every little thing" that happens in our lives but more about telling the meaningful stories that I would like to read and see years from now.