Brittany Chavez may have turned only 23 this year, but she is just as comfortable in a darkroom as behind a digital camera. Chavez received a BFA in photography from Portland’s Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2013. The school is known for its hands-on and historical approach to craft, which means Brittany was just as often developing negatives under a red light as blinking at computer screen and toying with editing software during her four years as an undergrad.
The images featured in this issue are a mix of digital and color film, with limited post-production editing. Photographers like Brittany take advantage of the moment by “painting” with the elements they have at their disposal. Exposure times, lighting and compositions are used to craft each shot as it is taken. Brittany has her color film developed by a company in Portland, and then scans the negatives herself using facilities at Newspace Center for Photography in the Southeast quadrant of the city, where she also volunteers. She then tweaks elements like contrast and color-balance digitally to compensate for shifts that can take place when scanning the film.
Brittany’s method of scanning her negatives means she has a collection of hundreds of high definition digital images to pore over, making choosing specific images for the journal a pleasure, though a daunting one.
Shop talk aside, it was the lushness of Brittany’s imagery that won me over. I was drawn to a softness – both literal and metaphorical – in her portfolio. Objects of comfort often appear in her repertoire of images: pillows, bedding, overcast skies and warm lights. A soft focus blurs some hard edges of forms, making them appear to have an inner glow. Her images are intimate without being confrontational. We see hands and knees, a recently-slept-in bed, playful details and purposeful emptiness. While each image has the power to tell a story, groupings of any number of pieces result in new collections of form, color or narrative.
Serendipitously, Brittany is also a writer, making her a fitting steward to the poetry, prose and art of the talented cast of women who make up the 2015 issue. Her images and words can be found on her blog “A Personal Archive” at http://blog.brittanyvchavez.com.