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Maddie Mott takes a painterly approach to photography

It's fantastic when photographers we feature on ALTER/ANALOG inspire others. Maddie Mott names a few of these photographers in her interview and describes her process below.

"A little bit about the process here - I took developed negatives and either dipped or smeared them with a mixture of water and oil. While the negatives were still wet, I painted on a layer of watercolor paint. The images with opaque speckles have glitter glue on them! Color images were souped in various tinctures prior to developing. Two images are actually black and white shots, scanned as color negatives to capture the tint of the watercolor. All images were developed and scanned at home."

See more of Maddie's work on instagram at @mygrandpasoldcamera_

ALTER/ANALOG: How did you come up with this process? Was it by experimentation?

MM: Honestly, I came up with whole painting process because I wanted a way to make my really terrible photos salvageable. I follow some artists on Instagram who do fluid art with acrylic paints - they essentially just dump paint on canvas to make these really cool, abstract marbled pieces. I was inspired by that technique, especially the uncontrollable nature of it. I am a total imperfectionist when it comes to film, so I liked that it was such a messy process to start with.

Painting negatives is definitely all experimental because I don’t know how the negative will take to paint. I’ve discovered that watercolors and acrylic or alcohol inks work the best because they are fairly translucent, and when you scan the final painted piece, you can still see the exposure underneath. I like to coat the negative with either water, oil, silicon, nail polish remover, or a combination before applying the paint/ink so it moves more organically. Watercolor mediums, like granulation medium or tar gel, work well on film too. Oil and silicon have a cool effect on the final product; they granulate the color and create some of the big bubbles you see. I’m still experimenting and trying to find other materials that will work!

ALTER/ANALOG: When did you start shooting film?

MM: I’m a total newbie to film photography - I just started in June! My camera was my grandfather’s, hence the username of @mygrandpasoldcamera_. When he passed away, my grandmother gave me his old, 1966 Minolta rangefinder that I’m working with now (my little sister got his old Polaroid camera). 10 years later, I finally had the money to get it repaired and enough creative energy/motivation stored up to figure out how it worked. Being out of grad school for the summer really gave me enough free time to learn how my camera operates and figure out my style.

ALTER/ANALOG: What inspires you?

MM: Things that remind me of my family history tend to inspire me the most. Film photography to me is part memory preservation, part creative outlet. I try to combine scenes my grandfather would have shot with my taste for film destruction. My grandfather was a builder, and my grandma said he used to take lots of photos of buildings, so I try and shoot a lot of photos of interesting architecture. I’ve also been very inspired by power lines lately - my grandparent’s farm back home in Oregon have these towering power lines running through it. We don’t have any lines nearly that big where I live now, but it just feels right to take photos of power lines when I can.

There are also a ton of innovative alt-film photographers on Instagram who keep pushing the boundaries with their work, and I find them really inspiring. Michael Hipsman (you guys just featured his work!) does incredible stuff. Molly Thompson (@mkaephotography) does incredible soups, as does Marlenne Lacasse (@latent_to_light) and Beth Maciorowski (@bethmaciorowski). There’s this German guy, @hanneswobus, who just CHURNS out experimental photos and prints. Their work motivates me to not be afraid to try new things out.

ALTER/ANALOG: Are there any other alternative processes that you do?

MM: I really enjoy film souping - I think that’s the gateway drug to alt-film photography. I just recently tried the EBS technique La Fille Renne showcased here; that produced some cool but mild results. I’ve been wanting to play around more with double exposures. I really want to try a process I saw somewhere on Instagram, where you let your film just sit in developer for a long time. I’ve also been studying watercolor tutorials and got some new mediums to coat my film with, so I’m excited to try new methods of painting as well. One of my goals in the upcoming months is to start offering experimental film workshops, so I want to be well-versed in as many processes as I can!

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