Samantha Muljat has a stunning creative vision, that she expresses through different disciplines like graphic design and photography. When we stumbled upon her work taken with 460nm film, we just couldn’t let the opportunity pass to ask her a view questions.
Where are you from, how old are you?
I’m from Germany but have been residing in the U.S. since 2011, first in Los Angeles and now in the Pacific Northwest. I’m 37 years old.
Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a photographer?
I’ve always been curious about visual arts in one way or another. When I was little I drew and painted a lot, and went on wanting to become a professional painter after high school. In art school I didn’t really get along with my mentor and started experimenting with other media and quickly became fascinated with photography, film (as in moving image – not photo film) and graphic design. Film seemed tedious but graphic design and
photography were the ones that stuck.
Do you professionally work as a photographer?
I’m not solely a photographer. I have a college degree in both photography and graphic design, and work as a graphic designer/photographer-hybrid full time, so yeah…I guess that makes me a professional.
Your work has an almost otherworldly quality. How do you achieve that look? Do you find the settings you shoot by luck or do you research landscapes you want to photograph beforehand?
For album covers I do a lot of research beforehand and work closely with the musicians and their ideas to make sure I’ll achieve the look they are going for. If it’s not a commission, I can work more freely and just venture out and shoot.
You’re doing a lot of work for bands, shooting album covers and the like. How is your workflow usually? Do bands come to you with an idea in mind or is it you who sets the initial mood of the photo?
It depends. Sometimes a band has a clear vision and they basically need me to execute it for them and other times a band just likes my style and they go: “We really liked album cover XYZ that you did, can you make us something similar?” Or sometimes they don’t have an idea at all and want me to steer the entire project. Usually, there’s going to be a lot of writing emails back and forth before I even touch the camera. It’s important to me that I get where they are coming from and what kind of vibe they are going for. I also like the title of the album or some of the lyrics to be reflected in the imagery. It’s not necessary to be literal; I’m trying to achieve cohesiveness and create a mood that reflects the music and content.
What’s the reason for you to take analog pictures? Do you shoot digital as well?
Yes, I shoot both. I enjoy the freedom and control of digital photography, especially when I’m working on a tight schedule. Analog photography on the other hand has that “Kinder- Egg” effect for me, where you often times don’t exactly know what you’re going to get,especially if you work with manipulated or soaked films. Manipulation by hand often times feels a bit more like a little science project or a witch’s brew I’m concocting. I enjoy the playfulness of the experiment.
Do you have a favorite subject to photograph? If so, why?
I would say everything nature-related is my probably my favorite thing to photograph. Sometimes people in nature but mostly nature by itself. I enjoy being alone when I’m working. One could say I seek “aloneness.” I feel like I can reflect and focus at the same time. The quiet helps me putting things in perspective, mentally as well as through the lens.
What’s your favorite analog camera?
I love my Pentax ME Super. It’s a small, handy SLR. No frills and super fun to use.
Do you have a favorite revolog film?
Yes, I love the 460NM. I often times use that one when I’m in the mountains. Icy peaks and cool, blue hues go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Any advice for other aspiring photographers?
Pick up a different medium. Typography for example. Graphic design and typography has taught me a lot about composition and the use of space. All the rules you’ll learn can be applied to any other form of art. Other than that, just do your thing. Explore. Whether that means taking pictures with your phone or getting into large format photography.
Do you have any future projects you’d like to talk about?
I have some future projects planned but I can’t disclose them at the moment. In general, I just want to travel more and take as many pictures as possible. Maybe pick up painting again. Maybe something entirely new. I’ve been curious about making a zine of sorts but it’s pretty vague at this moment. We’ll see.