California native, Corina Rose is one of the people you find on social media and quickly conclude, “we could be friends in real life.” Her 35mm photography makes me feel like I’ve had similar memories. I scroll through them feeling as if I miss those moments and say to myself, “Oh, that was a beautiful day.”
The irony is that those aren’t my memories at all. This girl from up north is a Californian, and I’m settled almost a country away on the east coast. That’s what I find maybe most fascinating about Rose’s photography — her ability to evoke memories that are, technically, not ours, though we have all had similar ones. Corina captures the small moments in life that pass by so quickly — the steam from a hot cup of coffee, the moon filtering through the leaves, and the way the sunlight hits the ocean at a certain time of day.
I had the chance to speak to Corina about her introduction into photography and about the future of film photos.
I see your name on social media as Corina Rose and also “Girl from Up North” – where exactly did this name came from?
I’m from up north, so I just had this little pseudonym. I had a photographer friend when I lived in Santa Barbara, and I was starting a blog. I was like, “What should I call my blog? He was just like, “You should just call it girl from up north.” That was 10 years ago, so I just stuck with that.
And you said your Tumblr is where you dump all your 35mm photos – do you primarily shoot with 35mm?
Yeah. Exclusively, apart from a Polaroid camera I have, I don’t even own a digital camera. I kind of wish I did, because they seem really fun, but yeah, I just shoot 35.
When did you start taking interest in photography?
Well, my mom is also a photographer, and so I didn’t really necessarily take interest in it. As a kid, you can’t really fully appreciate your parents’ hobbies. It’s just what they do, but she always had a camera, and we grew up a little bit south of Big Sur, so we were always going on drives and hikes and stuff up there. She always had her camera, so I think it was just subliminal that I was aware of photography.
It was just a few years ago, I was actually dating a guy who is a photographer, and he kind of encouraged me to buy another camera. It’s addictive, or film is addictive, because when you film a roll, you don’t know how it’s going to come out, so there’s this anticipation of getting it back. When you get it back, it’s like a present.
You get to open it. It’s very, I don’t know, it’s kind of thrilling in a way.
Do you feel film making a comeback right now?
It definitely seems to have made a comeback somewhat. I think to me it seems like it’s everywhere, because I kind of have surrounded myself with a lot of people that are of the same interests. In niche groups, it’s definitely kind of coming back. I feel like there’s so many things that our generation is picking back up from our parent’s generation and just re-inventing it and making it interesting again or we’re finding interest in it.
I think film is just one of those many things. It’s like hip again. Once you start doing it, you really do appreciate how fun it can be. Even if you just bought one of those little point and shoot film cameras, it’s just a really fun hobby.
Is that why you do it?
That’s why I do it. I have all these other interests and things that I do that I’m like kind of good at, but I don’t really love, so I’ll just drop them after awhile. But film, or just photography, is just one of those that has just-
Exactly. It’s just fun.
When do you feel the most driven to pick up your camera? I saw that you have a lot of those in between moments and everyday moments, like coffee in the morning.
Light. I think I would have to say the light.
I don’t know if you’re into astrology or a spiritual at all, but I’m a Scorpio, and I’m a super … I’m a visual person. I’m really into the way things look, and it’s kind of a fault in some ways, because sometimes looks are more important than content or something. Just to see something that’s pretty, I have to shoot it. If the light is hitting something and it’s glistening or something is coming through a leaf or something, I will stop whatever else I’m doing.
When did you start taking your camera with you in the water?
There are these cameras that Nikon made in I think the 60s called the Nikkonos. I started seeing on Instagram, actually, this one girl specifically who’s from New York, and she found one of these cameras and was using it in the water on the east coast.
There’s this guy, Brandon, in San Clementine here who collects them, because they’re not made anymore. Nikon stopped making them, so it’s kind of like this cool rare fine item. He started collecting them, and he started a website called The Nikonos Project, where you can get on a mailing list and he’ll send you one. It’s just totally free and you just have to put your name on a waiting list. By the time I heard about it, the waiting list was three years long.
Oh my gosh.
So I just reached out to this guy, Brandon, who collected them, and I was like, “Hey, I’m super interested, I know your wait list is really long, but if you ever have spare one,” and he was like, “Yeah, for sure.” I went down and met him and he gave me three of them just to play with.
How are you hauling around your camera while you’re also paddling and trying to catch waves?
It’s tricky. You put a shoelace on and you just string it around, but it’s heavy. I almost knocked out one of my teeth one time. If I’m going to take the camera out, it’s going to be on a small day so I don’t have to worry about getting over waves or anything. A lot of times, I’ll just swim with it instead of surfing with it.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you have when you’re shooting in the ocean?
There’s the viewfinder where you’re looking through. Then, there’s the lens, which sits below it. You’re looking through the viewfinder, but it’s sitting about an inch and a half below that.
I feel like you’re always kind of messing with the settings sometimes with film cameras —
Totally. You totally are. Every time. That is a challenge, but I consider it to be really fun, because you never know how it’s going to come back. A lot of times, it’s a happy accident.