Photographer and director Kaitlyn Mikayla is no stranger to fully and enthusiastically immersing herself in the production of her work, whether it involves traveling internationally or scouting out the perfect set.
In one of her most recent shoots starring muse Josephine Reitman, Kaitlyn experimented in low light with harsh flash for a horror film inspired series— all shot on Lomography 120 and 35 mm color negative film.
Hi Kaitlyn, welcome back to Lomography Magazine! Can you please start off by telling us what you've been up to since your last feature in our magazine?
Since my last time with Lomo, I’ve been working diligently on my directorial debut RAGAMUFFIN, a 16mm film about a young girl racing motocross. I’m deep in the throes of production and it’s been so satisfying to see the raucous world come to life on film. I’m so excited to finish and put this out into the world. Hopefully this is only the beginning of my foray into motion picture film.
What was the inspiration for this recent shoot?
This horror inspired photoshoot largely came from the mind of my muse and model, Josephine. She is a horror film fanatic and together we’ve been studying the good and bad within scary cinema. Josephine had the idea for a while and we finally found the perfect location to bring it all to life.
Can you walk us through how you prepare for conceptual shoots such as this one?
Normally, I would develop the concept solo, inspired by something I saw in a film or a vintage photoshoot I unearthed. But this really was inspired by the hours spent watching horror film after horror film with Josephine. Anything cinematic inspires me and I’ve gone down a gothic rabbit hole once or twice in my work, but I would’ve never thought to be inspired by the classic scary movie tropes, until Josie started pointing out how iconic they were.
From the conceptual idea, I normally start to look for a location. When it comes to fashion shoots, I really lean environmental, so I have a world to work within. Josie and I found this (real) burned down home at the edges of Los Angeles and it called our name.
Once I know where I'll shoot, I’ll start to direct the rest of the creative and technicals around that. I knew this location would be quite dark so I looked into film stocks and lights that would help me keep the mystery but still keep it realistic to shoot on film. And for this creative, the direction and styling all came from the mind of Josie. I couldn’t be luckier to have such an dedicated creative partner.
What was your kit for this shoot?
The medium format photos were captured on my Hassleblad 500c using Lomo Color 800 and the 35 mm photos were a mix of my Canon EOS3 and Contax T3 using Lomo Color 400 & 800. I lit the photos with either natural light, one blasting key light or the contax flash. (Sadly, this location only had one working outlet, so we had to make do!)
What makes you come back to Lomography film for your photoshoots time and time again?
I love the colors and the richness that Lomo film offers. I’m never afraid when I have to push or pull the film, because it always comes out with such incredible texture and feeling.
Do you have a favorite shot from the photoshoot?
I love this shot from our set. The light and silhouette feel like something out of a film to me. I went rogue and shot with the only available light we had and it came out so beautifully.
Why shoot both 35 mm and 120 film at the same time as opposed to one or the other?
I love the dynamic range it gives me, especially when I’m working on a set with limited light, it’s best for me to mix formats to ensure I’m getting the shot. I’m a big lover of the dark, moody shots that are hard to make out, but sometimes shooting like that is a gamble. And I love using flash with 35 mm, so it’s both an amazing back up, but also a great way to play with a different feeling within the same shoot.
Do you have any advice for 35 mm shooters looking to pick up 120 film?
I’m not the most technically savvy of photographers and I’m constantly relying on my camera whiz friends to help me when I’m using medium format to this day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and start slow and small.
My first medium format camera was a TLR and that was a great entry to learning the feel of 120. It took me so long to get the hang of it and I remember bringing the camera to a shoot without knowing how to load it and it was so embarrassing. Lean into the mistakes, it’s the only way you’ll learn.
Do you have any upcoming projects or shoots that you can share with our community?
Like I mentioned before, I’m working on my directorial debut, RAGAMUFFIN. And I’m working on a book of my medium format double exposures, I just received the mock up copy and am so excited about the future of that too!