A passion for light, an affinity with colors, and an insatiable curiosity; here are all the ingredients that San Diego based photographer Michael Walrond mixes in his creative endeavors for surprising photographic results. An art school dropout, who fell in love in with graphic design at 16, and trained his artistic eye at 22 through visual display and costuming in Seattle and Los Angeles, fell in love with analog photography and has been entrapped since then.
"It's very simple: film has a beautiful hypnotic depth that entrances you."
Through this time of confinement, Michael did not confine his imagination, but on the contrary, he let it run wild, and as far away as 5,000 miles from his camera. With the help of visual telecommunication, Michael shot the artist Tiffany Cole through a one hour Facetime session on the Lomography Color Negative 100 and cross-processed the film. The result? A trippy journey from screen to film, and back to your screens. We talked to Michael about this latest series entitled "5,000 Miles Away: A FaceTime Film Series".
Hey Michael, it's great to have you here at Lomography. First off, can you tell us how did you get into analog?
I got into photography by accident. I’m ashamed to say this but I use to have no love for photography as a medium, I had a really terrible first experience in art school that made me disconnect with it. About three years ago, I was working in the creative corporate world in Los Angeles. I was part of a huge team doing 50 international commercials for Procter & Gamble's Tampax brand. During the project, I met the creative director, Christopher Everett, and we became fast friends. Back then, I was deeply consumed by graphic art/editing images. Everett looked at my work and said, "Stop using other people's images to create your art!" I can't remember if it was days or a week later, but Everett showed up with a Leica Dlux and gave it to me. From that point on, I made it my mission to manipulate images without any post-production or editing software. I used projections, colored light, iridescent origami paper as filters, and space blankets as backdrops.
Digital photography was a very transformative journey for me, It was an awesome year of unfiltered creativity. In my second year of photography, I was introduced to film. My studio neighbor August Williams asked me, "Why don't you shoot film?" It never occurred to me to shoot film or even to try it. August sold me my first film camera, a Canon AE-1 for 75 bucks. In my first portrait session, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I just knew film would be darker due to the lighting. By instinct, I pushed the film. It was Ilford HP5 400 film to 100 ISO. The images turned out amazing and I was purely entrapped by film's hypnotic depth and haven't gone back since.
Why do you choose to shoot analog instead of digital?
It's very simple: film has a beautiful hypnotic depth that entrances you.
What do you prefer to shoot in terms of subjects?
Portraits, because I love to connect with people and sink into their innermost depths.
My work is about transformation, connection, and perspectives. While using light and organic manipulation to capture the emotion and essence of a person. My aim is to connect with the observer while playing with their minds.
Forgetting time and place, the pure immersion of that moment. I believe when we are lost within “The Space Between,” the lines of reality disappear, and that’s where the raw, true vulnerability exists. My images depict the subjects leaving all the fears of vulnerability behind. Rawness and vulnerability are seen as a place of comfort and honesty. A representation of our purest selves.
Do you prefer color or Black and White?
I love both, and I've been trying to merge them both together.
How did you come up with this series?
I saw quite a few photographers on social media shooting off webcams and digital cameras and I thought to myself, how could I take it a step further? Could I shoot it in a way where you couldn't tell I was 5,000 miles away? Because of my work, I am inevitably connected to photographing people and I'm lucky enough to live in a time where video chatting and the internet exist. I believe, "despite all, we must create." And right now with all that's going on we have become distracted from all the things that inspire us when we should be clinging to our passions and the beautiful things that drive us.
Can you tell us the concept behind it?
There really wasn't a lot of conceptual thinking involved, I was sitting at home like "I need to create", and a few moments later DM'd people from all over the world I wanted to create/shoot with. My thought was if there are no boundaries of distance who would I want to create with.
Why did you choose to cross-process the film?
It was 1 am and I couldn't sleep, I had no C41 color developer. So I started wondering could I develop color film in black and white developer and what would happen. I knew from my research I had to heat up the Black and White chemicals (Kodak D-76 Developer) to at least 102 degrees, So I said to myself do it, and I just went for it.
How do you interpret the relationship between digital and analog, through your project?
I guess I'm blurring the boundaries between digital and analog, not sure what that means to me yet.
Any tips to give to someone who wants to merge both digital and analogue, like you did?
There are no rules, experiment and don't be afraid to make mistakes!