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Fiercely Curious is an online art & design collective based in Brooklyn.

We believe in connecting directly with the artists and designers.

Caitriona Gallagher
About Caitriona
Since having taken a photography course in high school to fill her requirements, Caitriona has fallen in love with film and with the dark room. After exploring digital photography in college, Caitriona opted to return to film where most all of her captures are now taken with her Medium format Mamiya camera just as the talented classicists that she so admires have done.

Caitriona grew up between Paris and Connecticut, and then spent most of her university years between Dublin and Shanghai, so it's hard to know where home is for long for her! Today, Caitriona is living in Brooklyn, and when she's not busy working in advertising, she's taking photos on her medium format camera, exploring her surroundings.
Caitriona 's Process
Today, I shoot mostly with a medium format camera. I've gone back and forth over time, starting with film, and then moving to digital before going back again to film. It's definitely my preferred type, and I enjoy the mystery from shooting behind a Mamiya. I'm limited with the shots I can take (with only 15 photos per roll!), and as I wait to have them developed, (as much as I hate the anxiety of seeing how they turn out) I love the excitement.

I shoot primarily documentary style, looking to capture a story with my photos: from the people, to the architecture, to the nature. I was lucky to live in China after graduating from university last year, where I got to travel to some of the most beautiful places. China doesn't always get much recognition for its natural beauty - which is just what I tried to capture in this series of photos.

Art by Caitriona

In conversation with Caitriona

Erin: What are you curious about?

Caitriona: I’m curious about people and my surroundings, understanding why people do the things they do by connecting their past to the decisions they make. For me, taking photos is more than just capturing the present instance, but also the intersection of the past and future. And on film, it is being captured in the most lasting of ways.

Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.

Caitriona: I shoot documentary style photography. I don’t normally go out with a mission of what I’m going to shoot, but instead being ready for any photo opportunity. My camera rarely leaves my side - it’s heavy so it’s a bit of a commitment, but can also be a great conversation starter! I shoot with a medium format 120 mm film, which only has 15 photos per roll, so it really makes me stop and think every time I take a shot. I get the rolls developed and scanned at a photo lab in Manhattan. And then that’s pretty much it! I do very little editing on them as I don’t want to lose that “film” look they have.
Erin: What got you interested in photography and how did you learn?

Caitriona: I fell in love with photography completely by accident. I ended up having to take a load of art classes my senior year of high school to complete my credit requirements. Little did I know how much it would change my life!

I was taking a film photography class, where we were given weekly assignments to capture different angles or emotions. We would develop our own rolls of film and then print them ourselves. People always say you’ll never forget seeing the first photo you print come to life, and well, I haven’t! To this day, it remains one of my favorite photos. At the end of high school, I interned in a photo studio in NYC, and that was just the beginning of what would become a defining hobby for me over the last few years.

Erin: You went from film photography to digital and now back to Medium format film. Why the switch back to film and why medium format?

Caitriona: When I went to college, I ended up going back to digital. Just like most students, I was learning to live on a budget! Working in digital allowed me to really practice though and explore different approaches, there was no limit to how many times I could shoot. But my heart always yearned for that feel that film has.

Wandering into an old camera shop in Dublin, I came across an old Kodak Retinette 1a, a 35 mm from the 1950s. It’s a gem of a camera, everything is totally manual which meant it can be quite challenging- but also so rewarding when the photos come out well. And I love that the camera is so old - I stop and wonder sometimes who were its past owners and what photos it’s taken! After a year of using the Retinette, I decided to make the switch to Medium Format, and have been using my Mamiya ever since. The ratio of a medium format is slightly different than 35mm, at 4.5*6. This type of film photography is so rich in culture - having been the choice camera of so many talented photographers that I look up to, and having captured many iconic moments in history.

Erin: You are well traveled being born in London to Irish parents, raised between Connecticut and France, living in Shanghai (anywhere else I forgot)? How has growing up in various places with such diverse culture affected your view through the lens?

Caitriona: When I was growing up, I never really had a choice over where I lived. Ironically, now that I am in control of that decision, I still feel like I can’t stop moving! While it was hard at times, the experiences of living in different places teaches one a lot. Constantly being an outsider forces one to be more observant and more closely notice how people fit into their surroundings and behave- whether it’s in Shanghai, Paris, or New York.
Erin: Landscapes, city, nature, people, photograph it all. What is your favorite thing to shoot and why?

Caitriona: I don’t really have a favourite thing to shoot... although I find I am still shy taking photos of people! But when I’m shooting, I like to capture the full picture (no pun intended!). Together the photos come together to tell a story of a place, with each one adding more context to the next, allowing the viewer to truly become involved in the series.

Erin: Seeing as you work with film, what’s your best way to ensure you capture a shot?

Caitriona: I cross my fingers really hard !!

Erin: Do you use computers in your process? If so how? If no, why not?

Caitriona: I only use my computer in the last step when the negatives are scanned to a CD. I like to keep that natural look you get from film, I find it adds an extra dimension to photos.

Erin: Where do you draw your inspiration from for your photos?

Caitriona: Everywhere...Luckily, I work in advertising, so visually, I’m always being challenged to look at things through a new lens. But otherwise- just about everywhere !

Erin: What is your dream travel destination and what do you desire to shoot there?

Caitriona: I’ve got two places on my list for 2015: Iceland and Jordan. While they’re two drastically different places, one being a volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean, and the other an Arabic Kingdom, they both strike me as really interesting places to shoot: both because of the nature and because of the culture.

Erin: If you could photograph anyone dead or alive who would it be and what would it look like?

Caitriona: Hm..there are just so many people ! I think maybe I would prefer a moment in history before the days of cameras? Perhaps a hotly contested moment...Ah, I don’t know, it would be a tough choice!

Erin: If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Caitriona: I’d love to be able to teleport...then, I wouldn’t have to just choose one place to live in! And it would mean I’d have an endless stream of inspiration from all the different places I’d get to visit.

Erin: What is your dream project?

Caitriona: Of all the photos I’ve seen...there’s one that always sticks with me, it’s one by Annie Leibovitz with bloody imprints on the wall left by Tutsi children. In this photo she was able to portray so much more than what we typically see in the news. I would love the chance to get to cover some war zones, to portray the human side of it - but I suppose, that’s a whole other ball game isn’t it!

See all of Caitriona 's work

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