LA-based photographer Samantha Lynn Croteau captures everyday human waste to illuminate the relationship individuals have with the objects they choose to buy, hoard, and eventually discard. Croteau’s work puts the recesses of urban lifestyle on display, making the dilapidated backdrop of human interaction the subject of her film photography. Shooting on the cumbersome 4×5 monorail camera, it’s a wonder that Samantha is able to stop and capture these unique street landscapes. – Ava Bradley
1. How would you describe your photos?
I’m interested in details. I like to get close and focus on something really specific. It usually starts with a color, and it can be a texture, a gesture, a shadow, a reflection, a point of tension. They’re also about me. But I think all art is diaristic. So they can be about anyone. If you’re the viewer then they are about you.
2. Do you carry your camera with you everywhere you go?
I shoot with a 4×5 monorail camera so that would be hard. I really only take my camera with me if I intend to shoot. Otherwise, I’d isolate myself from whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing, like talking to people or having fun – I get really focused when I’m shooting. I always use my iPhone though, and I’ll make drafts of photos I want to make in the future, “real” photos. I also just got an Instax Mini so I’ll probably start carrying that around.
3. What celebrity would you like to shoot most?
Living, Ronda Rousey. She’s my hero right now. She’s figured out a way to use her body to it’s fullest potential which is something I’m very concerned with talking about in my work; our capabilities as women. Dead, Edgar Allan Poe. I had a dream he was my boyfriend. And there’s only six known pictures of him.
4. What animal would you like to be, if not human?
A great white shark. They’re strong, misunderstood, and mysterious. They’re physically amazing.
5. What is your current obsession?
The #transformationtuesday hashtag on Instagram. The body is such an important part of my work. I’m always thinking about it. I love being a voyeur when it comes to other peoples’ stories. I’m very interested in what drives women to transform themselves physically and what that takes both physically and mentally. And their motivation to share it with the world. I’ll get lost scrolling through. I’m very inspired visually.
6. Would you like to live forever?
Yah, definitely. The older I get the more terrified of dying I am. But I’ll probably be one of those people who slips and falls in the shower and that’ll be it. It almost happened this morning.
7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Whenever I’d meet an artist I’d ask them that same question and I always got the same answer, “follow your gut.” I knew the answer but I needed to hear someone tell me it was ok. I always felt, and still feel, like I’m doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing – but I don’t know how to do anything else. I just listen to myself.
8. What do you do in your spare time?
Make photographs, go grocery shopping, do laundry, go to the bar, art openings, gossip with my girlfriends. Pretty regular stuff. I recently asked my friend if I should start drugs, though.
9. Do you like having your photo taken?
No, not at all. I even refused to have my senior picture taken for the yearbook in high school. Which is funny because I take my own picture so much. I’m a control freak.
10. What photographers do you like right now?
My friends, Chandler Holmes, Gretchen Sayers, John Jr. (Doom). I think it’s super important to support each other. This photograph of two teenagers kissing in a pool by Nan Goldin is my laptop background right now, the most recent book I acquired was Kodachrome by Luigi Ghirri, and the last opening I went to was the book release for Heavy: Volume One at Family bookstore here in Los Angeles.
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