portfolio: Kensey Crane

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Kensey Crane is a largely self-taught 29-year-old photographer currently based out of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Her current work chronicles her travels throughout Canada, which she logs in her online photo journal. We corresponded this summer about her recent travels and how she incorporates photography into her everyday life.

Tell me what you’ve been doing this past year.

KC: After spending over a year in Montreal, I am back on the West Coast drifting between the homes of family and friends. I am hoping to migrate to the Yukon this summer. It looks so beautiful there and I like the idea of the midnight sun, the longest days. I’ve been caught up in circulating the same few cities over and over and would like to break that cycle, find a new experience. I’ve heard there is a really great sense of community up there and that is something I haven’t felt in awhile. 

Moving around so much has been really positive for me in the way that I’ve learned to not let possessions or attachments keep me bound to one place. I used to struggle with relocating because it would mean having to get rid of so much, starting from scratch, beginning the whole process of settling again, but now I truly enjoy the act of purging all the things I acquire while living somewhere. I like giving things away, cutting the strings and moving on to the next place with just a suitcase or two. At this point I have really embraced the idea of not having one particular place to call home. I finally got my driver’s license on my 29th birthday and I would really love to buy a camper van and drive around Canada and the States and make a little film along the way. 

Lately I am just trying to focus on creating with no inhibitions and no ego. I think it is common to want someone to tell you that what you’re doing is good or special. Especially with the Internet, it can be so instantly gratifying to have people like you or your work, but it can often be destructive to get too wrapped up in that world. There are times where I get too self-aware or get stage fright if I feel like I have an audience. There becomes an invisible expectation and a desire to stay relevant and it taints everything. Whether it be drawing, writing, or taking photos, I am trying to learn to be more unapologetic and less self-conscious, and to focus on the craft and process itself rather than the outcome or how it’s perceived. It is important to be honest and sincere. If people like it then that is just a bonus, not a motivator.

One of the most appealing qualities of your photos is that they never feel overly contrived or staged. Will you elaborate on your point of view as a photographer and how photography fits into your everyday life? 

KC: I try to keep a camera with me at all times, and over the years I’ve learned to be less shy and more spontaneous. I think being too much of a perfectionist or trying to control or manipulate something too much can really work against you. If I see a nice moment, even in the middle of a conversation, I just take my camera out and try to be as subtle as I can, so as to keep the moment intact. People can tense up when they become too aware of the camera, and moments can be fleeting, so I try to pounce on each opportunity because it might not happen again. Sometimes something so perfect presents itself that I feel a sort of internal itch that can only be scratched by taking a photo. There are times that I do direct situations or seek out locations but there is still a chemistry that has to happen outside of me and it cannot be forced. Photography for me is just such an integral part of my connection to people and places. It adds another layer to an experience; it gives depth and a tangible quality to a memory. I like the idea of preserving a moment like that. Sometimes one photo can be a portal into a whole era of your life. 

Have you transitioned at all in your choice of medium, or are you still primarily using film (as opposed to digital)? 

KC: Even though it would be way more practical to use digital, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I know a lot of people enjoy it and I am not knocking it, but I just never feel content with the process or results. I take pictures on my phone sometimes, but those are just sort of fillers—if I am too broke for film, or for convenience reasons— and they never feel meaningful. I found a place in my hometown that develops for two dollars per roll, which really lets me be more careless (in a good way) with how I shoot. It can be a bit stifling when you are on a tight budget and each picture feels like it has to be worth the financial sacrifice. It sucks when there is a creative medium you want to try but you can’t afford the price tag. Using film is a trial and error process, which I think people can get turned off by—it’s a commitment to keep trying and keep buying film when digital can be more efficient. There are plenty of times I’ve wasted a whole roll, where none of the pictures were any good, but it’s all just part of the game if you’re using film. It feels worth it to me. 

In Montreal, I started shooting on a VHS camera, just for fun. I ended up being awake at 5 a.m. during a lightning storm and went outside with the camera and got some footage. I was so excited with how it turned out: the home video quality and the color distortion. I mostly just used the video for screenshots, which is actually really great because you have so much to choose from. You can find that perfect fraction of a second to pause it and capture it like a photo.

Interview by Caroline Knowles.
All images untitled, 2013.


visual art: Kensey Crane