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Alissa Shoemaker's therapeutic photographic journey

"I'm a Missouri girl who uses film photography to connect with herself. I've been taking pictures ever since I was a kid amazed at how my mom turned my brother's bedroom into a camera obscura. I still remember my fascination at watching upside cars drive across the wall.

My first real experience with film photography in particular though (aside from the disposable and instant cameras of my youth) was a few years ago. My mom gave me the Minolta XD-5 she'd purchased in her 20s as well as my grandpa's Nikon N2020, and the rest is history. I fell absolutely in love with the process.

Partially due to the limitations film photography provides and partially due to what I was working on in therapy at the time, I decided to focus on photographing the things that made me pause, be it from beauty, nostalgia, or some other pull. This principle has required me to pay attention to and honor how my body is responding to the world around me, something that doesn't exactly come naturally to me.

I've started to connect with and get to know myself in a way that only reflecting in my head and talking in therapy hasn't quite been able to accomplish. It's really neat looking at my favorite photos I've taken and beginning to see a thread of myself throughout them all. A thread I might never have noticed if film photography hadn't forced me to slow down and listen."

See more of Alissa's work on instagram at @_alissalissa

A/A: How were these images created?

AS: I wish I remembered more specifics, but I tend to be a bit disorganized. I shot a few rolls of films and soaked them in jars filled with various things (sparkling water, Gatorade, marker ink, blue M&Ms, etc.) I found around my house. I don't recall the specific combo used with this roll. I let the rolls dry out and kept forgetting to develop them for almost a year. I developed them normally in C-41 chemicals.

A/A: What is your biggest inspiration?

AS: Probably nostalgia, warmth, and coziness. I find myself drawn to and inspired by things and art that make me feel that way.

A/A: What got you interested in film photography?

AS: I picked up film photography after watching some newer movies shot on film. The colors and softness made me feel so nostalgic.

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