"I can’t not photograph."

Tell us about yourself.

I’m 35 years old, born in Florina, Greece. I was raised and live in Melbourne, Australia. I’m a Learning & Development Team Leader at Berry Street (Berry Street works with children, young people and families with the most challenging and complex needs, including those for whom Berry Street is often the last resort). I love my day job with a crazy passion.

And I do film photography as a labor of love and living. I can’t not photograph. If I suppress it, I feel like I might burst. My chest expands, expands, expands, and bam! My preferred alternative to this threatened self combustion is to photograph and release the pressure, emotion and physicality that needs to come out.
Aliki Smith

When and how did the film journey begin for you?

It began some time back in the 1990s. When I first picked up a film camera, it was the norm - film was still the commercial go to. So my film journey began simply because I wanted to take pictures of people or things. Over the years, my film journey has evolved and changed. Film photography is a large part of my lived experience and my art practice.
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What Could we always find in your gear bag?

A medium format film camera or a large format film camera. Some film. I use two types of film - Black & White and slide film - mostly expired. I also use instant Fuji in a polaroid back. And a tripod. That sums it up. Over time, it has increasingly become much less about gear for me and much more about how I use what I have at any given time - a mix of pragmatism and economy. I move in an essential way and embrace what I have to attempt to make it work. It's a direct reflection of how I approach my life.
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What camera makes you click?

Right now, I have three cameras that enable me to keep clicking. A Yashica Mat EM (a beloved pretty square maker), a Mamiya 645 Pro (the one that has been revived twice from the dead and is better than ever) and a Speed Graphic that is equipped with an Aero Ektar 178mm f/2.5 aerial lens (a beautiful heaviness that demands my whole body enter the photographic mix - no compromises and no excuses).

Who are your models? How do you interact with them before shooting?

My models are predominantly children and women.

I engage with children very organically and follow their lead. Children are so beautiful to look at and they don’t alter their gaze or movement because of my presence. I come right into my self watching them as they watch and do other things.

When I photograph women, I’m conscious of being present, talking openly and coming from a place of authenticity, respect and gratitude.

Feelings for me are the greatest element in my work. Feelings experienced by the subject. Feelings experienced by me. And the feelings that are created during our work together. The interaction between the subject and myself is thick or thin with feelings of trust, vulnerability and connection. In my practice, interaction cannot be based on faux feeling. Faux feeling leads to faux images. The feelings must be real, must be honest. In this way, a deeper sense of intuition and vulnerability can enable the images to have a voice. To come out of themselves. To speak.
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What inspires you most?

Seeing and making pictures that stop me in my tracks - particularly ones that hit me emotionally, make my throat choke, gut plunge or softly stroke my heart.

Another source of inspiration for me is the film photography community. I am involved with Shootapalooza, The Fox Darkroom and the Film Shooters Collective - these communities are incredible and contain film and alternative process photographers that often leave me deep in thought or reeling in motivation and enthusiasm.

Last, but not least, as the founder of She Shoots Film, I can genuinely write that some of my most nourishing film photography related experiences have come from engaging with other female film photographers about their practice and process - nothing short of incredible. We’re also currently working on our first print publication and not unexpectedly, I’ve been blown away by the selected artists’ work. Inspiring. Full stop.

Do you have any advice for film photographers out there?

Photograph that which makes you feel. And if you don’t feel anything, photograph anyway. Just keep working.

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You can find Aliki Smith here: www.morningwithyou.com Instagram