This week for our 46th In Focus interview we are talking to Clara Araujo. A fine art photographer from Brazil whose images explore the dualities and other aspects of the human psyche.

Section 1 - Background

Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?

It’s really hard to pick just one… but probably this self portrait:

“The Birth Of Venus”, Body of Water series, 2020. Ilford Hp5+ 400, Yashica Mat 124g. by Clara Anaujo for In Focus

“The Birth Of Venus”, Body of Water series, 2020. ILFORD Hp5+ 400, Yashica Mat 124g.

Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?

I am a 26-years-old Fine Art Photographer, Psychologist and Art Therapy post-grad based in Brasília, Brazil.

I shoot mainly self portraits on 120 B&W film and explore the intersection between photography and the unconscious mind while looking to illustrate the dualities and other aspects of the human psyche.

I’m obsessed with printed photography, whether it’s darkroom or inkjet printing, I can’t address it enough how important I think it is to have the habit of making prints to investigate and study your own work!

How and why did you get started shooting film?

I started shooting film in 2011 when I was in high school because my grandmother, who had always been passionate about photography, suggested it to me. I had been into photography for a few years and couldn’t afford a DSLR back then, so it was the most convenient way to learn the basics of photography for me at that moment.

Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing back then but I remember having so much fun, even when I ruined an entire roll.

Untitled, Ilford XP2, Canon EOS 500, Roman Pantheon. - Clara Anaujo for In Focus

Ilford XP2, Canon EOS 500, Roman Pantheon.

Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?

Can it be a film director instead of a photographer?

Ingmar Bergman has to be my #1 inspiration when it comes to the aesthetics of the work I’d like to create.

“Persona” is the most visually stunning film I’ve ever seen and what first inspired me to shoot black & white film.

What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?

Around 10 years ago on the good old flickr days, there were some groups where more experienced photographers would occasionally give constructive criticism to other members’ photos. I remember sharing 2 self portraits, one was really flat in terms of light & shadows, while the other was backlit while still retaining plenty of shadow detail, adding volume and texture to the image. One of the photographers’ who were giving other people feedback on their images told me to learn to observe and understand light, and to do so I should always pay attention to the shadows. He mentioned the backlit photo looked interesting and 3-dimensional, while the other looked dull and lifeless.

It is something extremely simple but that I often remember to this day. I try not to give too much attention to technical details but you can’t deny: lighting can make or break a photograph.

Double Exposure, Ilford XP2, Canon EOS 500.

Double Exposure, Ilford XP2, Canon EOS 500.

What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?

I have an ongoing series of black and white portraits (mainly self-portraits) taken on Paranoá Lake in Brasília, called “Body of Water”, which I started in 2019.

I wanted to start working on a medium or long-term project that could serve both as an investigation of the subconscious and the process of becoming an adult woman and also as a photographic research. I’ve always been fascinated by water and it’s a recurring theme in my dreams and earliest memories, and to me, nothing is a stronger symbol of the unknown than water is. I really want to make a book out of this project once it’s finished.

Another ongoing series that I have is “Persephone” which consists of color portraits of women inspired by the myth of the Greek Goddess of the Underworld. This one is sort of on a hiatus because I haven’t been motivated to shoot color in months though.

What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?

Probably more portraits of my “Body of Water” series! I’ll definitely shoot on my Yashica Mat 124g and will probably choose Hp5+ since the weather has been a little unpredictable in Brasília these days.

What are your photographic goals going forward?

When it comes to personal photographic goals I always think more about the long term goals and process of photography as a form of art... I hope to see my work evolve in the same direction as I move onto as a person as I get older, if you know what I mean.

I think my main goal in general is to stick with what I consider true to myself, making photographs primarily as a way to express myself and visually represent certain aspects of my inner world and to able to touch and connect to others through my photos while sustaining myself.

This can be a little bit tough because even though I work as psychologist as well, right now Fine Art Photography is my main source of income, and it can be a tricky field to work at, specially when you’re young and still don’t have a super well known name or well established career. I love it so much I can’t see myself shooting something more commercial as my main photographic work though.

A few business goals are to grow my Patreon page (I cannot address this enough, but my patrons have been the most supportive and encouraging people I’ve came across, specially during the uncertain times we live in), teach in workshops in other cities and maybe even other countries (I can dream, right…), offer limited edition prints in more sizes, and make a solo exhibition.

“Alan”, Ilford Pan F+ 50, Yashica Mat 124g - Clara Anaujo for In Focus

“Alan”, Ilford Pan F+ 50, Yashica Mat 124g

Section 2 - Shout outs

We all need a bit of inspiration and love so this is your chance to tell the community about yours – from the film photographers whose work inspires you, the labs you trust with your film, your ‘go to’ film photography stockists, your favourite community darkrooms or just anyone in the community who you feel deserves a special mention.

Give a shout out to your 3 favourite film photographers (not photography hubs) currently active on IG or Twitter and briefly tell us why others should follow them.

Clyde Butcher. @clydebutcher - Clyde has been a Fine Artist and a Darkroom master for decades, and his large format landscape work is just on another level. Whenever I feel stuck and unmotivated I check his page to remind myself to always try to get out of comfort zone to make good work.

Bogusz Jan Szulc, @bogusz.s - Also a cinematographer and film director from Poland. His photos have such a dreamy and eerie atmosphere and such an otherworldly feeling to them. Plus he’s great at bringing storytelling to still images, that should be enough to get people interested in his work!

Andriana Nativio@andriananphoto - Andriana is another comtemporary favorite photographers of mine. When I look at her photographs I feel like I’m looking the subjects in the eye in real life, but in a much more beautiful, feminine, monochrome magical world.

“Water Nymph”, Self Portrait, “Body of Water” series, 2020. Shot on Ilford HP5+ 400, Yashica Mat 124g. Clara Anaujo for In Focus

“Water Nymph”, Self Portrait, “Body of Water” series, 2020.  Shot on Ilford HP5+ 400, Yashica Mat 124g.

Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).

Sean Tucker, T. Hopper (her channel should have ALOT more subscribers!) and Jamie Windsor.

I like how these channels focus more on the philosophical aspects of photography than just technique.

Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).

oBarco Estúdio, in Brasília!

And instagram page @ocaradosfilmes , which doesn’t have a website but offers multiple film stocks, developers and other chemicals and accessories.

Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website).

oBarco Estúdio, in Brasília!

Untitled Self Portrait, Body of Water series, Ilford Delta 100, Yashica Mat 124g. - . Clara Anaujo for In Focus

Untitled Self Portrait, Body of Water series, Ilford Delta 100, Yashica Mat 124g.

Section 3 - Favourite kit

What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite?

My favorite is definitely the Yashica Mat 124g. It’s the only 6x6 I own and I love square format so it has to be it. The other cameras I own are:

The Olympus OM1 (my favorite 35mm SLR), Nikonos V, Canon EOS 5, Canon EOS 500, Mamiya 645(it needs to be repaired), Yashica MF 3, Pentax Espio 160, Zenit 12xp, and a really old and tired Olympus Trip 35, which I don’t give away because it was the camera my grandfather used to take photos of my father when he was growing up.

“Grandfather Paulo”, Ilford Delta 3200, Canon EOS 5. - Clara Anaujo for In Focus

“Grandfather Paulo”, Ilford Delta 3200, Canon EOS 5.

Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?

I really like yellow and yellow-green filters for portraits. But honestly I like to carry as little as possible with me. Sometimes I find it very useful to carry my artist’s notebook with ideas and some story boards for more planned shoots! But I always leave room to improvise a lot too.

What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?

Once a guy whom I had never spoken to reached out to me on Instagram asking if i’d be interested in some of his old film photography gear. He no longer used it and didn’t want to give it away to someone who wouldn’t actually enjoy shooting with it.

Turns out if was a Mamiya 645 with a 80mm f2.8 lens, with its prism viewfinder, several 120 rolls of black and white film, plus a Zenit XP12 with one of its infamous Helios lenses, and quite a few M42 mount lenses. I was and still am incredibly grateful for that guy!

As this is an ILFORD interview it would be remiss of us not to ask about your favourite ILFORD products. Tell us you favourite ILFORD film, paper or chems and why?

Ilford Pan F+ 50 and Ilford HP5+ 400 are my favorite stocks EVER!

HP5+ is my go-to film choice for most situations because of how versatile it is and how much dynamic range it has.  And Pan F+ 50 is just so beautiful, smooth and fine grained. It’s my favorite stock to shoot when there’s alot of sunlight.

Untitled, Ilford HP5+ 400, Canon EOS 3000N - Clara Anaujo for In Focus.

Ilford HP5+ 400, Canon EOS 3000N.

And finally…

Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them

Breno Barros! (@bbarros_1980) on instagram.

“The Art of Dreaming”, Ilford HP5+ 400, Canon EOS 5. - Clara Anaujo for In Focus

“The Art of Dreaming”, Ilford HP5+ 400, Canon EOS 5.


Images Copyright: Clara Araujo @clarapnaraujo