EUGENE, Ore. -- As she looks through the ground-glass view screen of her Mamiya C220 camera, its twin lenses aimed at her subject, she knows she has the shot, although she won’t quite know how the picture will turn out until it gets developed.
Recent University of Oregon graduate Katey Finley is not your regular recreational photographer. Combining old school technology with experimental processes in order to create images that make her subjects seem almost otherworldly, she takes photos that could readily be mistaken for paintings.
“I’m not really interested in traditional photography,” she explains.
Despite her use of traditional film cameras, Finley’s photographs are anything but typical. She creates her surreal, dreamlike images through a variety of techniques that to the more traditional photographer would seem like mistakes.
With digital photography, changes in vibrancy and color can be manipulated in programs like Adobe Photoshop after the photo has been taken. But with film photography, shifts in color and tone are achieved by mixing up the developing process. Such manual manipulations require a deeper understanding of film and of the chemistry of film processing, both of which Finley understands well.
“If you develop [slide film] in regular color film chemistry, you get crazy color shifts and it’s intensely saturated,” she explains. “I like experimenting with different kinds of films to get interesting color combinations.”
Besides intentionally “misusing” film to create wild hues and glowing subjects, Finley also experiments with double exposures, after accidentally shooting over a used roll of film last summer. That double-exposed roll, consisting of a layer of images from Yosemite National Park and a layer from the Oregon Country Fair, turned out to be one of her favorites.
Many of the images from that roll made it into her recent art shows, which appeared this spring at the Buzz Café on the University of Oregon campus and at the Wandering Goat Coffee Company in Eugene. She has been shooting with film for only five years and the show at the Buzz was her first.
“Just the fact that it happened by chance makes them really special to me,” she says. “That could only happen with film.”
Although it is becoming increasingly uncommon for photographers to work with actual film, Finley is passionate about the unique qualities of the medium that captivated her from the beginning.
She hopes that people who see her work might be inspired to try something new and pick up a film camera themselves.
Finley says enthusiastically, “I think there’s a lot of magic in the analog practices that are dying out.”
The JAM Workshop — Journalism Arts Multimedia — is a brand new class taught at the University of Oregon’s School Of Journalism and Communication. Conceived by Prof. Tom Wheeler, the JAM Workshop brings together student writers, photographers and videographers to profile local artists — musicians, painters, dancers, sculptors, art photographers, and more.
Watch for Oregon JAM features at 7:30 p.m. PDT weeknights in July on KVAL.com