Samantha Ann Francis

Where is your creative sanctuary?
Gilman Barracks is one of my favourite places to shoot. It’s a huge cluster of art galleries, corridors and empty balconies, such as the one we are sitting at now. There is a lot of space to explore and experiment here. A great place to have a walk with someone and talk to them. This is also how I get more personal, natural shots as compared to shooting in a confined space, where some people tend to feel more distanced and self-conscious.

Do you associate very well with architecture and nature?
Yes and no. When you observe architecture, it is nice to take note of its patterns, textures, the symmetry and anti-symmetry. I guess it’s how I interact with the objects. 

What is your preferred shooting environment? 
For me, it’s simple. I do not like too many props or staged shoots. I like to capture things and people as they are. I try to capture the present, which is something that cannot be replicated. That is the point of photography. If you shoot on film, you will only get one negative - there’s no replication of that exact moment. If a photograph comes through and that is how someone looks like at the moment, that is what it is. 

Is there any difference in the way you work when shooting different subjects, such as nature and people at weddings?
When you shoot people, you have to be very observant and alert. Little things happen at weddings all the time so you have to keep an eye out for them. And that is exactly what I cultivate as a photographer - to always be observant. When it comes to nature, there’s more room for me to capture from the best angle.

You do a lot of travel photography as well. Does travelling help you discover artist epiphanies? 
The funny thing is, the click comes to me when I look at the photos. When I’m shooting, I immerse myself in the moment. I don’t think too much about the final image. The vision I had when shooting only becomes clear when I receive the photograph - that’s when I truly realise how that particular moment felt like.

What do you hope to achieve with your art? 
It’s about storytelling - putting my interpretations out there and letting someone feel something. I know people say that a photo speaks a thousand words but I like to think that words are good to supplement images. That is why my art book has photos followed by text. As you flip through the pages, you get a sense of what the photographer or author was feeling at that point of time. Of course you get books that display only photos. These open the reader to all sorts of interpretations, which is fine too but I prefer to guide the reader in a certain direction. Whether they accept it is up to them. 

What is your book about?

It is called Shibuya Is Calling. It’s a little Murakami-sounding but I actually happen to be influenced by his writing. His writing is a stream of consciousness and that’s how I feel towards my photography. The book is a compilation of my journey as a traveller. What makes it different from other travel books is that, I put up this almost rose-tinted, romanticized view of my travels. I feel like most people grapple with the Eiffel Tower Syndrome. You travel to a place with the intention of seeing it as you thought it would be but sometimes you end up disappointed. Perhaps it is not as grand, beautiful, or the fact that it is too crowded… For me, I try to retrieve the magic when I take a photo of a place or city. 

What you get in Shibuya Is Calling is a dreamy, almost whimsical experience. It’s almost like a dreamscape, even though that may not be the case when you are finally at the place itself. 

Say something to the fairgoers!
I hope my book takes you on a journey, whatever journey that may be.