The series Ache of Nature by American film photographer Katie Krulock studies human's creative force and its relationship with the surroundings. With photographs mostly composed and shot with expired film, her aesthetic is one that creates mysterious, questionable scenes that seem unfamiliar landscapes.
Hi, Katie, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Firstly, when did you start with photography, particularly film photography?
I grew up in a very rural town in Ohio, it wasn’t really a place where you could ride your bike to a friends house or get much of anywhere without a vehicle. Until I was old enough to get my license I was pretty good at entertaining myself at home. Between the music and riding dirtbikes, photography really became a fun creative outlet for me. Film-wise, I shot/developed my first roll of black and white of my friend Mary when I was 18 with a Pentax K1000 that my Aunt had kindly given me. The process was a really special feeling and I kept going with it. A few years later, my friend Molly taught me how to develop C-41/color at her college and it really provided me with a sense of understanding and ability to have control of the medium.
You have a very unique aesthetic with the film medium, embracing very analogue style such as grain, light leaks, etc. May you tell us more about the qualities you look for in a photograph?
I shoot with a lot of expired film, mostly because it’s more affordable, but also because there’s a sense of unpredictability that I do enjoy. My favorite thing to shoot with is a Fuji 6x7. I guess I lean towards a warmer feeling with color images. Film provides a lot of opportunity for texture, black and white definitely pulls me into wanting that with grain.. I guess I’m always searching for a sense of ambiguity that allows the viewer to take it as they please without boxing them in.
One series that stands out the most from your work is the quiet but gritty Ache of Nature. What were you trying to capture here, or what is the story?
AON is a collection that I’ve been pulling together for about 7 years. It’s basically my perception of humankind's relationship between pneuma and the earth. It came full circle for me while I was doing an artist residency last winter on the western coast of Ireland. I’ve always been drawn to vast landscapes, cool air, places where human-made structures coincide with their natural landscapes.
There's a definite sense of relatability to these edifices for me, I’ve always felt wired to be alone and tend to travel that way often. Places that remind me of how overwhelmingly large the world gives me a sense of relief from day to day anxieties, things that at the end of the day I have no control over. I’ve spent a significant amount of my life grappling with the fact that I’m going to die one day, not because of fear of dying, but fear that I’m not going to fully experience the Earth for what it was. I’m not sure why it feels like it matters so much to me, it’s not something I feel as though I’ll take with me or remember after death, but being human is something that I want to experience fully. It feels important to exist just as much as it can seem unavailing.
How was Ach of Nature inspired?
A lot of what’s driven me the past year and for a large part of the AON series was heartbreak. I really don’t think that it inspired me, but it pushed me to keep moving with the things that I love to do harder than ever before. I feel incredibly inspired by the people closest to me, two of which could also be considered to be my muses. Sadie Shoaf runs Three Pigs Vintage, who I shoot for often. Mary Terrett is often the model who just so happens to be the first person I shot on my first roll of film. We started working together last year and it has really flourished into a collaborative community. We have all gotten to work with some incredible people - models, musicians, artists, photographers, etc. through Sadie’s creation and I feel very lucky to be involved at any capacity.
If you could work or collaborate with any photographer, artist or person, dead, alive or fictional, who would it be?
Unrealistically, David Bowie. More realistically, I’m always looking to work with musicians and other artists.
I love everything that Moses Sumney has written and it’d be a dream to collaborate with him. Samantha Pleet is an incredible clothing designer that just came out with a beautiful line of shoes. Angel Olsen often rocks her stuff, who would be a dream to collaborate with.
What's a day in the life of Katie Krulock?
Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been flailing a little bit. I moved back to my hometown in Ohio three months ago after living and working in Pittsburgh for 8 years. This past winter was really difficult, not just for me, but for a lot of people I love dearly. Regrouping felt imperative. My dad and uncle have been kind enough to share their shop with me, so I moved my darkroom into there. I wake up, make some coffee, hug my mom, pet my cat, and bike to the shop a few miles up the road. I’m freelancing full time, so I find myself back in Pittsburgh one or two weeks out of the month.
Friends and friends of friends send me their film for processing, and it’s basically how I can consistently keep gas in my car and film in my camera, so I’m eternally grateful for people to trust me enough to develop their film. I’ve been feeling more grounded every day, and I guess my next move is to figure out where I want to live again. Until then I’ve just been applying to artist residencies and going with the flow of things.
What do you usually do during your downtime? Any on-going project, or other plans you're keen to work on?
I read a lot, look at art/photo book layouts, play guitar, sleep in my tent, and just drive around. I’ve been working on two book layouts —i Ache of Nature and a newer series I started called Fool-Ish.