For photographer Rebecca Moseman, her “Scrap” series touches at the sentimentality of unearthing whatever remains of the practice of physically writing something down (a lost art in today’s social media age). “In a world where memories are often kept through social media or iPhone photo catalogs, the nostalgia of keeping memories from a time of nostalgia itself is a rarity,” she tells Lens Culture. By photographing a young girl’s diary in the 1950’s, Rebecca was able to perfectly create a stunning series of images that showcases the beautiful art form of handwritten notes, personal letters and correspondence for us and the millennials, whose version of ‘writing’ is typing down on a laptop keyboard, to savor and delight at the kind of beautiful nostalgia it conjures. To dig more about this fascinating series, Resource Magazine initiated a brief interview with Rebecca Moseman.
How did the idea for “Scrap” came about?
I found a box one afternoon in my mother’s studio filled with old letters and pictures. In looking through its contents, I found an old diary filled with scraps of paper, old napkins, empty cigarette packs, cocktail straws, letters, etc. Along with the collected scraps, there were notes and drawings on the pages and in the margins. I was charmed by the poignancy of not only the memories but also the story it reflected of life for a young lady in the 1950s. At the same time, I was also interested in the old-fashioned idea of diary writing as a way of preserving memories versus the rather impermanent modern method through social media, or photo catalogs. My goal in photographing the diary was to showcase the nostalgia of the era and the lost art of diary keeping, and perhaps create a new channel to allow the memories to live on.
Tell us any fascinating discovery you had while shooting this series?
This book was my mothers, therefore I had many fascinating insights into who she was as a young lady during these few years of her life; what she did, where she went, who her friends were. The tactile elements of the scraps were interesting as well: the smells, the textures of aging tape and paper, faded napkins, old letters.
Just like with the lost art of writing a diary, how can you compare this with film photography giving way to the digital photography age?
I think there are many parallels. Unlike digital which allows the photographer the flexibility to shoot 20 pictures, keep a few good ones and toss the others; film forces the photographer to slow down, think things through carefully, closely study the subject before taking a photograph. You spend more time with your photographs from capture, through development, to the print. It’s the same with the lost art of keeping a diary. Just the act of writing out your memories and thoughts, recalling feelings, sights, and songs, and then having items saved from those experiences create permanence in your memory.
Tell us the process for shooting each image from the series? the technique and lighting methods.
I looked through the book carefully, trying not to disturb what items were kept in which pages. It was important to me to display unique qualities of the scraps like textures, dates, prices for drinks, handwriting alongside the worn pages of the book. I wanted the viewer to experience the book as if they themselves were paging through the book, yet at the same time I didn’t want to give away too much personal detail as this was still a diary of a young lady. So the photographs are taken nearly from a voyeuristic viewpoint. Looking closely at things from a distance, not allowing the viewer, nor myself to be able to read the personal information that lies within each letter, card or note.
I chose a simple black backdrop in order to showcase the items without distraction. I lack a studio space of my own, so I often make spaces work for whatever type of photography I’m working on. These were taken with natural window light, in the corner of a room.
What are your camera gears of choice?
I shoot with a Nikon D610, and these photos were taken with a 55-200mm lens.
Lastly, what are your upcoming plans for next photography series?
I typically work on more than one project and idea at a time, so I not only have many projects currently in the works, but future ideas bouncing around in my head. I have a portrait series I’m working on focused on children with freckles, as well as a nature series entitled Partners. I also hope to perhaps continue the Scrap theme as I’ve discovered yet another book tucked away in the attic.
To see more of Rebecca Moseman’s work, check out her Website. To be considered for Photographer of the Day, follow us on Instagram @resourcemag and e-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “POTD Submission.”