claire voelkel

During this week’s Feature Fridays, we’re excited to bring you Claire Voelkel, whose recent black and white film work amazes and inspires us, especially in the unique way she sees light. Claire took some time this week to answer some of our questions, and we’re extremely grateful for her insight and thoughtfulness. Check out the interview below!

Make sure to check out her Flickr photostream here!

For the Love of Brooklyn: We see Brooklyn all over your work – where do you live? Where are your favorite places to shoot?
Claire Voelkel: I live in Park Slope, though I rarely shoot there. Instead I love to walk west through Gowanus and over the 3rd Street bridge – possibly my favorite spot in Brooklyn. Beyond that I adore DUMBO, the bridges, the steps of the Brooklyn Museum and Coney Island when it’s cold and deserted. Actually, let’s face it, there are few parts of Brooklyn I don’t love.

she just needed some time to herself

LoB: What brings you inspiration?
CV: I was always surrounded by photography growing up. I considered my dad’s Leicaflex to be my untouchable little brother- it got almost as much attention and affection as I did. A few years ago my father went digital and passed on his camera to me. My ‘little brother’ has been with me and inspiring me every day since. Together we are constantly drawn to diagonal lines, light and shadow, crosswalks, reflections and stairs. We love to go to museums and capture how people interact with art and architecture. As an only child, I’m finally realizing the benefits of having a little brother.

brooklyn bridge

LoB: Your recent work has been primarily film-based and self-developed. What do you find satisfying about the analog medium? Any advice for digital photographers transitioning to film?
CV: Advice? Yes, do it! And prepare to be revolutionized! I strongly feel that analog and digital photography are two separate mediums. They both have incredible benefits and rewards. From the digital world we learn to be rebellious, to take risks, to stretch our ways of thinking and to see compositions as something flexible and transformative. I think once you’ve explored the digital world to the point that you know well your own style, making the switch to analog is invaluable in really fine tuning your sense of composition and thoughtfulness. Particularly when you do your own developing and printing and are involved in the beauty of the entire process (and can revel in those darkroom smells), you are very aware when out with your camera that every press of the shutter is a thoughtful decision, a conscious statement about how you see the world.

LoB: You’re also an accomplished knitter! [ed. note: Check out her knitting blog here!] What is it about fiber arts that brings you satisfaction? Is it similar in practice to photography?
CV: There’s nothing nicer than getting some colorful yarn in your hands after a stressful day at work. It’s a great way to unwind and it’s so satisfying to actually create things that bring warmth and cheering to others. I actually think the two practices are quite different though. Whereas knitting gives me time to relax and relish in the comfort of a pattern and the quiet of home, photography gives me time to hit the streets, create my own rules and relish in the vibrancy of the city.

illuminated conversation

LoB: What’s the craziest photo story you have while shooting in NYC?
CV: Hmm, I don’t know that I have any particularly crazy stories but I certainly do have a favorite one. Back when I was taking my first photography class, our professor gave us an assignment to approach and take portraits of strangers. This wasn’t exactly within my comfort zone and I spent many an hour on the street unsuccessfully building my nerve. On one such occasion as I was hanging out on a street corner on the Lower East Side, a man jokingly yelled to me, “Hey baby, it’s my birthday. Come over here and take my picture!” He had no idea what a favor he did me. Gotta love New York!

Thanks so much to Claire for the interview, and have a fantastic weekend!

16 thoughts on “claire voelkel”

  1. Thanks so much to YOU for the incredible honor of being featured! I am truly humbled to have been chosen by such talented photographers as you!

  2. Great piece on a great photographer. I have never met Claire but have been following her work and learning so much from it. I shoot digital as I am just learning “my style” and I must say, viewing her work stretches my imagination and inspires me to expriement more and more, each time I visit her view of the world. She has a true gift and is a living gift to the city of New York and it’s admirers…

  3. Your photography is brilliant. Sometimes I felt as though I were sliding off the earth in your slated photos of steps and and balconies. I love the bright color of your knitting against the shaded grays of the background too. There is so much to say. I will run your photo album just for joy. You are so fortunate to have discovered this gift of yours. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. Claire is a brilliant photographer. I love getting lost in her flickr stream – I don’t get to visit New York anywhere near as often as I’d like but her shots always make me feel like I’ve just had a lovely short trip there.

    Great interview.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments — I’m glad Claire is getting a chance to hear them (both here and on her knitting blog)! And Maya, I totally agree that her shots are awesome vestiges of NYC life — really satisfying. :)

  6. Beautiful pictures. I love the one of the girl crossing the street. The shadows and foot in mid air. What kind of film do you typically shoot?

  7. You are all so incredibly kind. I am truly grateful for your feedback. Thank you!
    Matt, I have been using TriX 400 exclusively thus far. I did get some free samples of Ilford though so one of these days I’ll give that a try.

  8. I am one of the luckiest people around who got to grow up with this incredible person in my life as a psuedo big sister. Claire, your photography is amazing, creative, alive, and just absolutely brilliant! :) Congratulations on getting the attention/credit you deserve!

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