How is it the end of February already? Where has the start of the year gone?? Here in Wisconsin we are stuck in the deep freeze of winter with at least three feet of snow on the ground, while more is currently falling as I write this article. My shooting has largely been put on hold as most of my cameras don’t like to function properly when it’s below 10° fahrenheit. But I’m sure that, before we know it, the thaw of spring will be here and life will be anew again.
And just as I’m excited for winter to be over, I’m also so excited for the five talented photographers I’ve curated for you this month. From photos featured in Vogue to ethereal dandelions, our list runs the gamut. So please, sit back and enjoy!
Courtney Cheatham [Instagram, YouTube]
Featuring stunning and fierce portraits, Courtney takes the types of photos I could only dream of creating. Shooting both digital and film, this girl is the full package. The endless creativity displayed in each of her works never ceases to leave me in awe. From intimate and raw to glamorous and opulent, the styling and modeling of her shoots captivates. I discovered her work back in December, 2020, and I curse that I didn’t discover her sooner.
When shooting film, many of her portraits are captured with her Pentax 645 including the photo above, which was taken on Portra 400. Shooting her close friend and muse, Seanta Baker, Courtney was aiming to capture Seanta’s beauty in the place where she felt most comfortable: in her grandmother’s home. Modeling her with natural light from a nearby window, I love how Courtney has played with shadowing on half of her face. As a bonus surprise, Vogue Italia ended up featuring this beautiful portrait.
Brandy Barham [Instagram]
I first discovered Brandy through the Film Photo Geeks podcast. After listening to a few episodes I knew I had to look up her instagram page. Funny, smart, and amazing photos – what’s not to love? While Brandy can shoot pretty much anything and everything, I find myself particularly in love with her black and white macro nature shoots. Taken on her regular walks around her neighborhood, Brandy has the ability to transform normal everyday objects like leaves, blades of grass, tree bark and more into magical, timeless creations.
Nothing better represents this to me than her image of this dandelion. A simple, plain jane dandelion that most of us walk past every day in the summer and never think of twice looks like the most mystical single dandelion in the world, just waiting for a laughing child to come by and blow its shoots to the winds. Captured with her Minolta X-700 and KONO! Rekorder film, I love the way she has framed this shot with the beautiful depth of field and wonderfully placed sun glare.
Jessica Barrera [Instagram]
I first discovered Jess’s work back in December 2020 and I was instantly pulled in by the golden, nostalgic tones of her work. Shooting primarily throughout California, Jessica captures portraits and urban street scenes from San Francisco to L.A. Her photos look like they could have been snapped back in the ’90s, in the best way possible of course. The sentimental Kodak yellows and beautiful grain take me right back to the photos of my childhood. You just can’t beat that Kodak Gold.
Just to prove how talented this girl is, Jessica captured the shot above on the first photoshoot she ever shot on film. I don’t know about you guys, but the first portraits I ever took on film did not look this good. Shooting for the clothing line, Derby of San Francisco, Jessica was taking photos for their new line of jackets. Shot with her Canon AV-1 and a roll of good ol’ Portra 400, Jessica has perfectly captured the model’s relaxed poses with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge framing them in the background.
Sierra Jackson [Instagram]
I have been screaming about Sierra’s work for what feels like ages now and I still can’t believe more people don’t know about her. Shooting mainly 6×6 photos with either her Hasselblad or Rolleiflex (lucky gal!), Sierra captures her life’s everyday moments out in Maine – precious family candids, self portraits, and gorgeous landscapes. I was first pulled in by her brilliant use of light and framing, and I haven’t looked back since.
Hands down my all time favorite Sierra Jackson photo is the gorgeous scene shared above. In June 2020, Sierra and family took a small trip to Bristol, Maine to celebrate her birthday. After months of the anxiety, dread, loneliness, and darkness we’ve all come to know during our quarantines, it was especially refreshing for her to get outside and enjoy the fresh early-summer air. After walking out amongst the rocks to take a few ocean shots, Sierra turned around and noticed this couple embracing along the coast with a well placed lighthouse in the background. Moved by how content and happy they seemed, she knew she had to capture this moment before it disappeared.
Ariela Badenas [Instagram]
When I first stumbled upon Ariela’s work, the first thing I noticed was how soft and beautiful the light is in her photos. Whether it’s street captures or gorgeous landscapes, Ariela expertly understands the best way to capture a scene so the lighting is spot on and the contrast is soft and subtle. With a background in STEM, chemistry, and food science Ariela has a natural propensity for tinkering with things for fun, making film cameras and film developing the perfect creative outlet for her.
A wonderful example of her use of soft, heavenly lighting is this beautiful shot Ariela captured back in October 2020. She happened upon the scene shared here while on a weekend getaway to Salt Spring Island (where she was visiting Francis Bread, a cute little bread making cabin tucked away in the forest). Shot with her Nikon FE and Kodak Pro Image 100, I just love the way she has captured the diffused lighting and delicate shadows with the colors of the window frame.
If there’s a female photographer whose work you’d like to share with me and the rest of the readers, please do so in the comments below. We’d love to see and promote.
You can also follow The Film Sorority, a new Instagram account focused on promoting female perspectives in photography, which I’ve co-created with Analog Talk host Chris Bartolucci, and another lovely and talented shooter named Onome.
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Thank you so much for this! Amazing article.