Unusually for a contemporary photographer, Carita Laamanen works solely with methods that are said to be fast becoming consigned to the history of photography. Preferring to work with analogue photography, both in black-and-white and in colour, Laamanen processes her own black-and-white negatives and hand-prints her photographs. “I like the materiality of film and the aspect of chance involved. The process of working in the dark room and waiting to see what I’ve taken is infinitely more gratifying than the delete or download process of creating digital images”.
Choosing to work with ISO 3200 film, which is eight times more sensitive to light than regular film, and pulling it to ISO 800 to ensure the photographs’ smoothness Laamanen purposely embraces the film’s grainy texture. Standard practise would have been to avoid visible grain altogether since it can be an indication of lack of detail, of a photograph being enlarged too far. Laamanen, however, cherishes it: “The grain in black-and-white film clearly shows that it is a photograph rather than a straight window into the world.”
Photography’s ability, or inability, to represent reality is a one of the preoccupation in Laamanen’s work. This series of photographs, Façades, raises doubts over an image’s ability to represent a city, in this case London. A two-and-a-half year project, Laamanen started to work on Façades when it was pointed out that she photographed anywhere but the city in which she lived. Accepting this as a challenge, Laamanen set out to confront London and with it, photography itself. Writing the accompanying short story ‘A Love Song’ became an integral part of the process.
Laamanen commits to no particular view of London and instead presents us with a deeply personal and beautifully crafted depiction of the city and its elusive façades.