Eye On: Bryan Graf
American photographer Bryan Graf uses the medium to remind us just how beautiful photography can be. Discarding many traditional elements of form and printing, Graf allows us to witness his process either by displaying a Polaroid as proof or through wild, instinctual darkroom development. Graf lives and works between Maine and New Jersey.
When did you take your first photograph? What was it?I have no idea, I wish I could remember that. I do remember the first picture I made, Dandelion, where I felt a kind of emptiness or clarity, which sparked the beginning of the series Wildlife Analysis. Five years later ended up being my first book published by Conveyor Arts.
In today’s digital age, many photographers have left the darkroom to sit in front of the computer. Why is an analog process important to you? I try to make as many things as I can and run on instincts, not think too much. One of the most important things is learning from my mistakes and sometimes enhancing and controlling those errors, which analog processes allow for.
In the Shot/Reverse Shot seriesyou
display both Polaroid and negative to demonstrate your process. Why is this
element important for you and the viewer? Where did the project begin?
It's an instruction manual and a way to lay it all on the table. The images show you the paper being exposed and the resulting photogram. In a way, it's a disassembling and reconstructing of the darkroom process. The Shot/Reverse Shot diptychs stemmed from a desire to make photograms outside my studio without having to decontextualize the materials from the landscape by bringing them into the darkroom. Around the same time I was reading a book of interviews with Jean-Luc Godard who spoke about the shot/reverse shot technique in cinema being all wrong. The person speaking should be filmed over the listener's shoulder for the shot and the reverse shot should rotate to film the listener's reaction. I became occupied with how to make a shot/reverse shot with still images, while simultaneously pursuing the desire to make a photogram outside, and shortly after started making these images.
Read the rest of the interview & see more work HERE.