The World is Your Body: Instant Photography with Kellen Mohr

Kellen Mohr, a Berkeley-based nature photographer, took the Lomo'Instant Wide out for a spin in the wild West. We talk his new series "The World is Your Body", as well as his personal experiences, memories, and inspirations tied to the natural world.

©Kellen Mohr

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

Hi! Thank you so much for having me back. A little about me: I’m a 24-year-old photographer and outdoor enthusiast who grew up exploring the woods, mountains, and rivers around Spokane, Washington. I have been living in and exploring California for the past six years and am currently based in Berkeley.

I’m enthralled by atmospheric weather conditions and the way people interact with immense environments, and my photos reflect that. My work explores themes of loneliness, companionship, and insignificance, drawing inspiration from music, friends, nostalgic memories, dusk in the desert, and cloudy days in the mountains.

©Kellen Mohr
©Kellen Mohr

This series is called "The World is Your Body" — how did you come up with that and what does it mean to you?

The photo that started the series in 2014 is a shot of my friend silhouetted against the hills above the Pacific at sunrise, his shoulders merging seamlessly into the ridgeline of the mountains in the distance, so that his head is the only part of him showing — the world quite literally became his body. It’s also the name of a chapter in Alan Watts’s The Book which delves into similar themes, which I was reading around the same time and which I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys thinking about the interconnectedness of organisms and environments.

©Kellen Mohr
©Kellen Mohr

What was your intention behind these photographs?

These photos were shot on trips in California, British Columbia, and Wyoming. I don’t really plan out shots ahead of time, I just bring a camera along for the ride. I generally look for arrangements of large shapes when I’m composing shots - I like to keep my compositions as clean as possible to emphasize the emotion in the scene.

©Kellen Mohr

How was shooting with instant film as opposed to how you normally shoot?

Instant film is definitely the good kind of challenge. I’ve shot with a wide variety of 35mm and medium format bodies, but none of those prepared me for shooting instant film. Figuring out how the auto exposure on the Instant’Wide compensated for snow, bright sky, sunsets, and silhouette shots took some trial and error, but it was really nice to be able to adjust in real time instead of waiting a couple weeks to get the scans back from the lab after a trip. Also, since this is obviously not a pocket-sized camera, it took a little more intention to have it in hand and ready to shoot on these trips — but the results were more than worth it.

©Kellen Mohr

What is your favorite photograph from the series? Can you tell us the story behind it?

For my 24th birthday last November, I wrangled 20 of my friends out to Mammoth Lakes in California for a weekend of backroads camping, hot springs sessioning, skiing, ghost town exploring, and hiking in one of my favorite places on earth. This was my first trip with the camera, and one of the first shots I took with it was my friend Emily in a wide open expanse near one of the hot springs with a lonely little cloud above her. The exposure was perfect and the colors are out of this world, and it takes me right back to a glorious weekend filled with everything that makes me happy.

©Kellen Mohr

What about nature inspires you?

The scale of truly wide open places, immense skies, clouds, inclement weather, the colors at dawn and dusk, smells that remind me of something in the distant past, the rawness of air and water in the backcountry, and nature’s total indifference to your presence. Nature doesn’t give a shit about you, which is a welcome change from moving through daily life where I’m more cognizant of myself. It’s nice to not really think about anything and just truly experience the world as it happens.

If you would like to see more of Kellen's work, check out his website.

written by sragomo on 2018-04-19

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