I’ve been head over heels in love with Lindsey Hansen’s work for longer than I can remember. From wild film soups to out of this world portraits, her images give me a whole new way of looking at photography and what can be done in the medium. It was a pure delight getting to learn more about her background and what got her experimenting in this field. I was fortunate enough that she was able to find the time for this great chat in the middle of a cross country move to her new home of Seattle. I hope you all enjoy this deep dive into her world as much as I did.
Thank you for taking the time to chat! Could you start out by giving us a brief introduction to yourself?
Sure! My name is Lyndsey, and I’m a film photographer and creative director. I was born and raised in the Oklahoma City suburbs, but will soon be calling Washington state my new home. I’m married to an amazing human and we have two pups, Pops and Abel. Other than photography, I enjoy traveling and a good cup of coffee.
What got you into film photography and what keeps you shooting film?
I’ve always loved the look of film but had never shot with it. Then at university where I studied Photographic Arts, I had to take a couple of darkroom classes. Not too long after that an acquaintance gave me a Canon AE-1 and a Canon AE- 1 Program, and my love for the medium grew from there. As far as what keeps me going with it, I process and scan my own film so I have a hand in the entire process which keeps it interesting for me. The experimental aspect of it with film soup, cross-processing, etc. really allows me to explore my creativity. Besides all that, film feels like a memory and that’s why I love it so much.
That’s beautiful, and leads into my next question really well. I love how endlessly creative your work is. How did you get started in alternative processes?
I first learned about alternative processing during my senior portfolio class at university. One of my classmates destroyed her film for her portfolio project. She would scratch it, wash it in the dishwasher, boil it, etc. I remember really loving the results she got. Then I learned about souping from a film photographer on Twitter and had to try it out.
[You can read about souping film in our article here.]
So souping was the first alternative process you tried? How did that first soup go?
Yes. My first soup consisted of lime juice, table salt, and blue dawn dish soap. The results were pretty wild. It’s really hard to know what to expect because I just started experimenting at the beginning of this year.
How do you pick what liquids to use for your film soups?
My first two soups were a mixture of pretty random ingredients. Since then I’ve done a few themed ones. For example, I did one with ingredients from Oklahoma, where I’m from. I used water from the Oklahoma river, red dirt which can be found everywhere there, and flowers from a redbud tree because it’s the state tree. I’ve also gotten suggestions from people who follow me on TikTok.
Ah I love that you made a soup with ingredients specific to that area! Do you have any favorite concoctions you’ve created?
One of my favorites consisted of mashed strawberries, Jameson whiskey, orange juice, and Crystal hot sauce. I had quite a few very abstract frames and the colors were really saturated. I think that was my second soup experiment.
You posted a video recently with just the caption “Destroy your film.” Have you ever gone so far with experimenting on a roll that it was unusable?
I haven’t had an entire roll come out with frames that you can’t tell what they are. I’d say on average, there are 2-3 frames per roll where there is no image.
Are there any other experimental processes you’ve tried beyond souping or are hoping to try?
I know another film photographer who shoots black and white and stains his negatives with paint. The results are always so stunning. That is definitely something I want to figure out. Oh, and I have also melted a strip of film with a lighter.
Say what! How did that turn out?
I tried not to get carried away with the fire because I didn’t want to completely ruin any frames. The results were pretty varied. A few frames looked like the color had been bleached out and others had some red color shifts.
How funky! So in addition to your experiments you also shot amazingly creative portraits! What got you into shooting portraits?
Portraits have always been something I’ve been drawn to. I really love the work of photographers like Sally Mann and Diane Arbus. When I first started photography, I really wanted to be a fashion photographer. I definitely don’t do them as often as I’d like because I’m pretty introverted so it’s hard for me to ask folks to model for me. When I moved to Kansas, I met my friend MK. They were the first person I had a portrait session with, and after that we continued to collaborate on shoots together. They would style, I would photograph. Working with them really helped me develop the portrait style I have now.
I love artistic partnerships like that. Are there any current artists or portrait photographers you find inspirational?
As far as inspiration goes, I really like the portrait work of Lindsay Perryman. They’re a queer photographer from NYC who photographs other queer folks. Delfina Carmona is a self-portrait artist and I am always blown away by her use of light and shadow. There’s also an abundance of amazing photographers on Instagram and Twitter that are constantly inspiring me in different ways.
Since you’ve mentioned Instagram and social media, what are your feelings on social media overall? Do you feel that it’s helping or hurting photography and the greater art world?
I think it’s a little of both. One thing I have noticed that is frustrating is the number of non-photographers who think photographers just slap Instagram filters on our photos when in reality, a lot of us spend hours fine tuning our editing style. On the other hand, social media has introduced me to so many creative and inspiring photographers who I otherwise wouldn’t know about.
Yeah I agree. There’s so many great artists I’ve met through these platforms. You recently relocated to Seattle! Are there any areas or projects you’re excited to shoot in your new home?
So many places! But I think I’m most excited about going to the Pacific Coast. I grew up in Oklahoma and didn’t see the ocean until I was 18. Now I live just 15 minutes from the beach. I can go anytime I want and I plan on taking full advantage of that. I’m also excited to be close to the mountains.
As I’m winding down here, what’s next on the horizon for you? Any big projects you have lined up?
Well now that we are moved and mostly settled, I have relaunched my film lab. I’m also slowly chipping away at a zine I’ve been wanting to make. It revolves around all the small towns I went to photograph last summer in Kansas after losing my job due to the pandemic.
Oh can’t wait to see that come out! Is there anything else you would like to share? Where can people find your work and your film lab?
I always hear people talking about how they want to shoot film but they’re worried it’ll be too hard and to that I say, you just have to jump in. Go for it. Film is all about trial and error. Experiment and have fun. As for where people can find my work, I have a website. I can also be found on Instagram and TikTok. My handle is elmarie_film for both platforms. If anyone is interested in sending me their film for processing they can fill out the form to do so here https://bit.ly/2W8ci0o
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First: great magic images with power, artistic power!
This is the reason why I prefer film, we can get that. Also with software it is a big work to get that. With film you can get that on RAW!
Sorry, please, you stay on the Midwest, where?