Soft focus with Samuel Hodge

Redfern through the eyes of artist Samuel Hodge

Hodge is a fine art photographer having risen to prominence over the last 5 years. His work is sought after for its qualities of originality, innocence and intimacy. Dissonant and sensitive, his photographs capture real life subjects, friends, models and lovers in an unexpected light. His images are intriguing, possessing a gritty Nan Goldin-esque glow that makes you want to enter his world.

His latest project is a commission by Carriageworks and BresicWhitney to capture Redfern, currently being shared across Instagram through #redfernlife @carriageworks @bresicwhitney

A regular on the roster at artist-run space Alaska Projects in Elizabeth Bay, Hodge has created 30 original artworks for the commission and will show some of the works at an exhibition later in the year.

“My style is pretty raw and very fast. I am not so interested in the technical aspects of photography. I am not interested in lenses and getting the best quality image. For me it is really about the feeling,” Hodge says.

“Cultivation is probably the best word to describe how my photographic style came about. It was developed very slowly, over a period of about ten years. I was unaffected by anything else,” Hodge says.

A mixture of simple country charm and sophisticated urban candour, Hodge has proven a good choice to document the many inflections of #Redfernlife.

“A third of the work is set up and elaborate. It’s the parallel version of everyday Redfern. Fantastical and bizarre. The other two thirds are those random intimate moments, portraits and landscapey stuff – taken from me exploring Redfern in greater detail,” says Hodge.

All of his images are created from raw negatives shot on a trusty old 35 mm Nikon that was given to him by a friend’s father. The images such a Tin Face are digitally produced from scanned negatives and captured using the naturally available light.

Hodge is mercurial and illusive when talking about his art, saying that it took him a long time to feel comfortable showing his work in a gallery context. He is now known for a large body of work (published in a book and on his blog) that captures the same feel and tone over time. In general he is prone to recreating stories he has been told. He is also skilled at setting up left-of-centre, oddly curious portraits that seem ripped from a longer cinematic narrative.

The new commission is the suburb and people Redfern, captured through Hodge’s eyes.

“Because I am not from Redfern I don’t feel it’s my place to make a big statement about the place. I really don’t like the idea of going onto the street and finding people – its just not my way of working. So I have to be invited into people’s homes to shoot them – like a Vampire who needs to be invited into the house,” laughs Hodge.

Exploring the myths and narratives of everyday life, Hodge says he will judge the Instagram competition by looking for an image that really surprises him.

“I’ll be going for something strange and unexpected for sure. It’s really going to have to be something that makes me think or something that captures my attention in a different way,” says Hodge.

For the competition Sydneysiders are encouraged to capture images of Redfern using the hashtag #redfernlife. The winner of the Instagram competition will be announced on Thursday 14 May across Carriageworks and BresicWhitney social media channels and will receive a 10-year Friends membership to Carriageworks, along with an original photographic print from the commission by Samuel Hodge.

#redfernlife @bresicwhitney @carriageworks @samuelhodge_

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