Pamela Klaffke is a professional writer and photographer, whose unusual photographs were taken using damaged and expired film. Sounds like anyone you know? Yep, thought you’d be interested! See her gallery and read some insightful words on analogue lifestyle.
Hello, Pamela! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a writer and photographer (and mom to a nine-year-old girl) who lives in Canada. I worked as a journalist for nearly 20 years, but gave it up three years ago to try my hand at fiction and photography.
When did you start taking photographs?
I’ve always taken snapshots — I was about seven when I got my first camera: a Kodak instamatic — but I didn’t start taking photos in any serious way until the summer of 2007.
Your images evoke a child-like vibe. Where do you get your inspiration?
A lot of it comes from my daughter, who is in much of my work. It also comes from old fairy tales, vintage magazines and children’s books, but probably the majority of the time it comes from objects and clothing. I’ve been collecting vintage home items, apparel and textiles since I was a teenager so I often find myself obsessing over a particular piece that will end up serving as the inspiration and jumping off point for a new shot or series.
You’re also a professional writer. How does your writing influence your photography (and vice-versa)?
I find the two jobs really complementary. I tend to work very intensely on one discipline, burn out, and then switch to the other, but there are always threads that run through both. I’m a very visual writer and my fiction is basically a description of what I see in my head. With my photography, there’s always a story in each series. I’ve also dabbled in combining the two, first in the short story project, Johnson Wilson and the Case of the Broken Baby and then in my online serial novel, Halfsquatch. I am hoping to do more of this kind of work starting with a new series I’m shooting later this summer, which is a photo-adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. And next year I’ll begin shooting the portraits to accompany an original work of modern fairy tales I’ve been working on on-and-off for three years.
If your gallery had a soundtrack, what songs would be included in the playlist?
That’s too hard! Although I love music and listen to it when I’m not working, I don’t actually play it at all while I’m in the middle of a project (I don’t read while I’m working, either). I like to work very quietly and very fast and music is too distracting for me. But if I had to think of music that might accompany my photographs, it probably wouldn’t be a list of singles, but rather albums that are theatrical and simultaneously dreamy and surprising — anything by The Decemberists or Arcade Fire would suit me fine (though saying that I suppose seals my status as a 30-something cliché!).
Will you ever consider taking pictures using a digital camera?
Probably not, but I won’t say never. I use my daughter’s digital camera occasionally to take styling shots of costumes I’m using in a series so I can keep track of the clothes and props for each shot, but I can’t really see myself using digital for anything but practical things like that. I don’t think I’d use it in my work. I’d rather spend my time playing around with vintage stuff, building sets, gathering costumes and planning shots than sitting in front of a computer using photoshop for hours. I am, however, incorporating digital video into an upcoming series in which I’m shooting analogue stills from video screen shots.
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested about trying out analogue photography?
Don’t be intimidated — get a camera and some film and take pictures.
What do you think is the importance of analogue in a fast-paced digital world?
I think shooting analogue takes a certain kind of patience and planning. Most of us can’t afford to shoot endless frames of analogue film like you can with digital (not just because of the cost of developing, but because many of the films we use are longer available or are in very limited supply). I think it makes a lot of us very thoughtful in what and how we shoot. On an aesthetic level, I still find film to be much warmer and have more depth than digital for the most part. It’s a nice contrast to the bright white sharpness of digital and the current tendency to over-manipulate and over-airbrush images. I’m all for experimental technique, but personally think it’s more interesting when you do it in-camera or with alternative processing. You just don’t get the same “surprises” with digital that you do with analogue and I think the final images generally reflect that.
Name three items out of your current wishlist!
I don’t use many accessories or gear in my work (I don’t even own a tripod!), but I would really like a ring light from bigcitylights.ca to play around with, a big box of agfa rsx-II 120 slide film because I only have about 40 rolls left in my fridge, and an original print by the late American photographer, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, whose work I discovered after I shot my first “masks” series.
Any projects, exhibitions, or books that you would like to promote?
Let’s see… photo-wise, I will be finishing up a second instalment of my bestia parvulus (animal child) series in late july and prints will be available by the end of the summer, then it’s the Little Red Riding Hood adaptation in august and in the fall, I’ll be in Europe shooting another series called The Private Lives of Public Creatures. On the writing front, my first novel, Snapped, came out earlier this year (it’s a dark satire about an aging urban hipster whose outgrown her job as a trendspotter). I also have another novel out in February 2011, called Every Little Thing, and have been chronicling the writing and publishing process of a trilogy called The Mod Girls at www.themodgirls.com. I’ve been horribly neglectful lately, but updates on all of my projects are usually on my website www.pamelaklaffke.com, in some sort of timely fashion.