Analogue addict

Fighting against the digital abyss with London photography student, Rosaline Shahnavaz

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22-year-old London-born photography student, Rosaline Shahnavaz is an analogue addict. Shooting entirely on film, she aims to capture the strengths and vulnerabilities of her subjects. Currently moonlighting as Tom Hunter's assistant whilst also working with Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin in their studio, and working as the in-house photographer for online art platform, SUBJECT. Speaking on her love of anologue she says: “The physicality of a photograph is important to me. I really hate to think of how much is lost in the abyss of the digital world. Even when you're shooting, each frame is carefully considered and constructed - there's more sentiment.”

Here Dazed speaks with Shahnavaz about how her interest in photography was triggered by a battered Yashica.

Dazed Digital: When did you start photographing? Where did you study?

Rosaline Shahnavaz: I'm currently in the third year of my Photography degree at the London College of Communication. I started taking photographs when my dad passed me down his very battered Yashica film camera. It was a great way to start because its temperamentality naturally led me to experiment and understand how cameras mechanically operate. The next step was when I approached my secondary school art teacher, who started lending me his kit and would teach me how to use the darkroom during Friday lunch times. He taught me most of what I do today.  

I like to capture people in their rawest and most honest form. I see myself more like a fly on the wall as opposed to someone who constructs a photograph

DD: Tell us a bit more about SUBJECT - who have you photographed for them?

Rosaline Shahnavaz: It's a multimedia publishing platform, I've shot MF DOOM at the Boiler Room, along with Flying Lotus, Serafina Steer, East India Youth, Trentemøller and Capitol K. 

DD: What is the overarching theme behind this selection of photographs?

Rosaline Shahnavaz: I love photographing people. I spend lots of time with my subjects, getting to know them and making them feel comfortable in front of me and my camera. This balanced relationship is important to me. The amount of engagement I have with my subjects is reflected in the intimacy of the photographs I take. I like to capture people in their rawest and most honest form. I see myself more like a fly on the wall as opposed to someone who constructs a photograph. I rarely give much direction - life is already so compelling and beautiful as it is, I just have to select the right moments. 

DD: What projects are you working on right now?

Rosaline Shahnavaz:  I am currently working on an Iran-based project. My parents immigrated to the UK during their early twenties, and my dad's photo albums of his life in Tehran are really incredible. Although it was never his profession, he has built up a great archive of photographs that documented his life in Iran. They offer a very unique perspective to me because in the West we very rarely see photographs of Iranians close up or at leisure. Press photographs tend to be of crowded street scenes, or women shrouded in black. Whilst photographers working in Iran have to work in a particular and censored manner because of the government's limitations, I am privileged to have this unique access so I'm hoping to produce a series of photographs that challenge Western preconceptions of daily life in Iran and also offer a real insight into Iranian youth.

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