Canadian film photographer Victoria Rivington loves to create expressive portraits on analogue, either with the 35 mm or 120 formats. Most of her pictures deliberately showcase the aesthetics of film – grain, light leaks, double exposures, and some blurs here and there. She is also a regular film swapper. Knowing the boundless possibilities of film photography, she seeks to make her art as honest and liberated through her unique and one-of-a-kind approach.
Hi Victoria! How are you lately as a photographer during this pandemic?
Being a photographer during a pandemic has been quite eye-opening. It’s been a positive change for me. I have been on a huge exploration of self, soul, and spirit. I am immensely aware that this is nothing in comparison to the lives lost and the massive negative impact this pandemic has had. I’ve been taking more photographs of landscapes, letting nature inspire me. Instead of trying to create beauty such as with studio portrait sessions, I just step outside and try to capture exactly what I see. Another focus during this pandemic has been a series of self-portraits. Truly trying to capture and evoke emotions, whether pleasant or not. If anything, this pandemic has taught me to slow down and be grateful. I am surrounded by beauty daily, in all its forms, and in turn creating images that reflect these feelings.
How did you get into film photography?
I have always been passionate about photography. I was gifted a Canon AE-1 from my grandfather, and I still use it to this day. Film taught me patience, and to express my creativity as much as possible. From double exposures, film soaking, to film swaps with other artists. Art has always been a constant in my life, film really lets me convey that. Film has really taught me to push boundaries, connect, and live in the moment.
You shoot a lot of portraits – what do you usually look for from the person you’re taking a photo of?
I try to identify with my subjects. I want my portraits to feel and look as natural as possible. I let my subjects move and do what feels comfortable. I strive to create a safe space while shooting and have a genuine connection with my subjects. In turn- creating the most authentic shots... I want to create images that capture raw human emotion.
We notice you deliberately use a lot of effects (like light leaks) with film. May you share with us more the vision behind the 'imperfect' aesthetic of your photographs?
My vision and focus have always been on artistic ‘freedom’ because I wanted to have a body of work that was exclusively my own. I love pushing boundaries with film. Experimenting with different lengths of time on how long I will expose the film for – creating unique light leaks each shot. Film is notable for its uncommon distinctive look and the possibilities with expressing the true art form of film photography are endless! I wanted my body of work to capture the true essence of film. All of these effects are done manually in the camera.
The colors of your pictures are really eye-catching – any tips when it comes to creating harmonious compositions?
It’s all about finding balance. Looking for symmetry. Examine color, texture, elements to balance your shots. I try to create a subtle contrast between my images. Set your intention on how you want your shots to blend together. I really can’t recommend enough also experimenting with different stocks of film. Constantly push the boundaries and experiment!
What or who influences and inspires you in your art?
Hugh Holland is one of my all-time favorite photographers. 'Locals only' captured California's 70s skateboard culture. It's real and inspiring. I’m also inspired by music and films. I hear a song sometimes I want to ‘capture’ how the words would look in a photograph. Being in nature has always been a huge inspiration for me. I consider myself incredibly lackey to also be surrounded by many inspiring artists and many muses.
What's next for Victoria Rivington?
Currently, I am working on a few film swaps, and slowly working on a collection of personal and professional photographs of my art career thus far, for a photobook hopefully to be released by the end of the year!