Female Film Photographers You Should Know: Kali
Kali apart from being a brilliant film photographer, is an artist, writer, and musician born and currently living in the beautiful coastal city of Santa Barbara, California.
She found her creative voice by playing with wild colours, twisting the landscapes and skateparks of Santa Barbara into psychedelic wonderlands. Kali’s admiration for the beautiful things of this world makes her work focused on capturing and transmitting those magical and unrepeatable moments under the artist’s perception of reality.
♦ How would you introduce yourself to someone who just met you?
If we were meeting in person, I would try to make you laugh, then I just would observe until there was a need to speak. I guess that’s a strange way to introduce oneself, but I want people to be comfortable being themselves around me.
Since we’re meeting online, I’ll say this… I’m Kali, a film photographer, artist, writer, and musician living in Santa Barbara, CA. My work is an ethereal romanticization of my environment, and the many fascinating subjects that reside within and amongst it. My photos are focused primarily on mountainous & oceanic landscapes, skate photography, and psychedelic portraiture. I am a deeply spiritual person, and I believe in caring for our planet and the many beings that live here. As such, it is my hope that through viewing and enjoying my work, one may develop a deeper appreciation and respect for this land and all it has been, and will hopefully continue to be. I am disabled, “incurably” ill, and I live with chronic pain, which has drastically changed the way I relate to the world, and how I choose to depict my version of reality. Each day is a blessing and a curse, and it is with great effort that I continue creating the art that I feel so deeply called to make.
♦ What is the memory that you most fondly remember from your childhood?
I didn’t have a particularly happy childhood, as I was terribly sick with autoimmune illnesses when I was a kid, and still am. Despite that, my fondest memories are from time spent with my family in Bend, Oregon, on my aunt’s old horse ranch. I love the clouds in Oregon. I wish I’d been into film as a 5 year old, I would’ve taken some great horse photos. Alas.
♦ Who were the most influential people during your teens and how did they influence you?
Dr. Henry Han, Jenny Han, Nicholas Hoyle, Paige Olsen, Chris Weber. These people made a path for me through life when I didn’t know how to proceed. They were mentors and teachers. They opened my eyes to energy, and I am forever grateful to them.
♦ How did you get in the world of analogue photography?
My grandfather, Don, upon realizing that I was becoming interested in film photography, gifted me a few of his 35mm cameras from the 1950s and about a dozen rolls of expired film from the late 90s. I really enjoyed using his Kodak Signet 35, and went through the collection of expired film in a matter of months. Once I ran out of the film he gave me I started buying Kodak Gold 200 and film from my friend Dustin Adams, who created Psychedelic Blues Film.
I began to develop my aesthetic by playing with wild colors and unusual compositions, twisting the landscapes and skateparks of Santa Barbara into psychedelic wonderlands. Around this time I acquired a Nikon F3 and started shooting with my true love, Lomochrome Purple, from Lomography. In the past two years I ‘ve also started working with Polaroid cameras, the SX-70 and the Polaroid Now, as well as 8mm cinematography… I’m enchanted. It’s been a dreamy journey through the analog ether ever since.
♦How would you describe the photography you do? What is your work focused on?
It all starts with observation. I observe my environment, adapt to it, and then start shooting. There are only so many factors one can control, much less influence, when one is working out in the world. I would rather understand and work within my environment than alter it to accommodate my artistic whims. I’m happy to say that the effects within my photos all happen within the cameras themselves, and I do minimal post-processing.
Shooting with experimental and expired films leaves a lot of room for magic to happen organically, so I choose my timing carefully, and let the film & the light flow. My photography is focused on an admiration and fascination with the inherent beauty of our planet, my hometown, the mountains, the sea, and my friends who live here. I capture moments and memories in a romanticized way, that aligns with the way I perceive reality.
♦ Are you working on any photographic project at the moment?
Yes…it’s a secret.
♦ Is there any photographic project that you would like to do but have not done yet?
Oh of course. There are so many brands and musicians I would love to work with, but I haven’t really dipped my toes into that world yet. I am slowly beginning to work with musicians though, creating cover art for albums and such, so reach out if you want to work with me!
♦ Which camera and which film do you use the most in your photography and why?
I use my Nikon F3 the most. I love it so much. It’s perfect. I have lots of different lens for it so I can play with composition in so many different ways. I mostly shoot with Lomochrome Purple, Psychedelic Blues, and expired film I find on eBay. If I’m not using my Nikon, I am using my Polaroid cameras, the SX-70 and the Polaroid Now.
♦ Who are your biggest influences?
Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Dylan Rieder, Audrey Hepburn, Mark Oblow, Patti Smith, Joan Jett, Angel Olsen, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Albert Camus, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Georgia O’Keeffe, Terence McKenna, Grimes, Mary Oliver, Hunter S. Thompson, Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Goddard.
♦ What’s the best advice you would give yourself when you started in the world of film photography?
Bring your camera with you, everywhere. Always have extra film on you. Don’t forget the telephoto lens!
Find more about Kali’s Work?