Katrin Sofie Vaal, aka vaaloren, is not only creative in photography, the 28-year-old from Herford paints, draws, listens to music, or grows her own vegetables in the garden. Her photographs invite us to dream, tell of the dance between man and nature, of playful rays of light and the perpetual circle of decay and new beginnings. Katrin shot her first film in 2001 with her mother's Olympus Mju-II on a school trip, when the camera accidentally fell victim to the sand. On her 16th birthday, however, she got her own Canon DSLR, which became a faithful companion.
"I've been fascinated by the play of lightbeams and anything that glitters for as long as I can remember... As a teenager, we had a little group that went on photo tours all the time. By 2020, however, the passion had faded a bit. A friend spontaneously lent me his Minolta XG-M during summer and it was as if the love had been rekindled. Away from the fast pace and "just shoot a picture or even a hundred" to more intention and thoughtfulness to use the film as well as possible."
Katrin's favorite photo shows a broken chair in an abandoned English military school. It not only tells a personal story, but also captivates its viewer with the dreamy play of light and shadow and the abstract form of the chair. Behind the man-made chair, which has already fallen prey to natural decay, nature is already announcing itself, ready to reclaim this place and give it new life.
"Sometimes it takes a camera to find and capture the light in the dark. Sometimes it takes a bad time to be able to find the light again."
In the meantime, Katrin's camera collection has grown considerably and, in addition to her friends, she loves to get plants in front of the lens. Katrin is also very fond of abandoned places "because there is so much to discover" and they are not only explored through the camera's viewfinder but also processed in the scanner, even if it still needs some practice, as Katrin herself says.
"I still use my Canon 400D from back then with several fixed focal lengths, plus two point-and-shoots (an inherited Mju-II, this time without sand, and a Minolta AF-Z) to keep in my pocket, but my favorite is the Canon AE-1 from the junk store with a 50mm fixed focal length. In terms of film, I'm still not absolutely committed, but I shot a Kodak Professional Ektar 100 for the first time the other day and I'm quite thrilled with the color reproduction. The last few months have shown me that it doesn't always have to be particularly expensive equipment for analogue photography. What you need to create beautiful photos is rather a good eye and the right intention behind it. In addition, a few months ago I started to scan my films myself with an EPSON V600, even though I'm still optimizing my workflow there."
Katrin likes to get inspiration from her friends, who are always there to help and give advice. Actually, analogue photography is still just one big experiment for Katrin, but she has already found her favorite look.
"I actually don't have that much clue about what I'm doing. The play of light and occasionally a shallow depth of field is particularly important to me. But that's probably nothing special. Apart from that, with self-scanned negatives, a little dust is allowed to remain on the image from time to time; I actually quite like the look."
Many thanks to Katrin for sharing her wonderful photographs and thoughts on this. Check out her Instagram account Vaaloren, leave some love and take a piece of inspiration with you!