Hana Naughton

Perfect Strangers

The Scholar: Hana Naughton

The Project: Perfect Strangers

The Essential Question: “I decided to pursue this because I developed a passion for dark room photography and the dark room class that I took in the winter, and I wanted to find an outlet to continue to do that and to be able to sort of come up with my own subject matter and techniques, and develop that further. My subject matter is just strangers mingling doing their thing, and in two different cities. I took photos in Boston, mainly in the Commons because it’s a wonderful park and there’s a lot of really cool sort of interactions to photograph, and then I took the second installation of my project in Austin, which is where I live.”

Surprising Discovery: “We have critiques every two weeks where we sit down with all the other artists and they really gave me some interesting feedback. When I started I thought I would do exclusively darkroom and just print in the darkroom black and white. But then as I moved through the process, I, with the help of my peers, decided that I would do sort of like a mashup with like digital and darkroom, first by processing the film and doing exclusively film pictures, and then scanning them and blowing them up really big so that you can see the vignettes. They are photos that sort of show a progression. So, I have one that’s two people sitting on a bench and then I zoomed out and next to them is another couple doing the exact same thing in the exact same post sort of to show that we’re not alone. I can’t print doubles in the darkroom, so I scanned it, blew it up, printed it really big, and then I gilded them with gold leaf and silver leaf to show like the progression between those two images into like pay homage to the darkroom because there’s like silver crystals that make it possible to like print.”

Biggest Challenge: “Because I was using so many different mediums, I didn’t just do darkroom printing, I also did those like digital scans and then I also took my digital photos that I took on an actual digital camera within the same settings with the same subjects and printed them onto silver paper instead. I guess finding like a cohesive medium between all of the different processes I use so that it looks like a cohesive end project, if that makes sense.”

Tip for Future Scholars: “Keeping an open mind and not being too set in your ways with how you want to do the project. Embrace other people’s criticisms. Embrace other people’s ideas and implement those into your project, because it’s more of an evolution than not starting out being open with your first idea.”

What’s the hardest part to get right in the dark room process? “The paper is really expensive, so you want to make sure that you do your test strips first, that you know how many bursts [of light] to give your piece of paper because it’s light sensitive and the more bursts you do, the darker your print gets. So making sure you do those test strips is super vital. And then playing with different filters as well to heighten the contrast, lower the contrast a bit, doing a bit of both. You can split filter, which I learned a couple weeks ago, so that really enhanced my prints.”