The majority of the landscapes featured in America: En Route were actually never destinations in themselves, but discovered en route to somewhere else. Photographer Christine Francis journeyed across 21 states, in 21 days, on an 8,000 mile road trip across America. The resulting photographs document the vast, seductive, impermanent worlds that make up America. Shot on a Rolleiflex camera, Francis explores the texture and depth of light in a series of images of unique and sometimes surreal environments.
Francis’ focus with this body of work is focussed on continuation, with no end on the horizon. “I was trying to recreate the depth and sensations you find in nature,” she says, “being true to the environment.” The aim was to explore and put herself in a position where the medium and location would inspire me. “I liked the discipline of crafting the image with minimal intervention,” Francis says, “seeking out beauty, where others have overlooked. I was submissive to the elements, waking before sunrise and staying out past sunset to catch the best light.”
While shooting the images, Francis says that she was blown away by the diversity of the landscape. Her trip across the USA was “fluid”, and she planned as she travelled. Speaking to locals, she would then work out where she was going. “It was often the places I stopped at along the way, rather than the destinations themselves, that had the greatest impact on me. So, America: En Route became not so much about known landmarks, but the beauty of unknown roadside locations,” she says.
Francis believes that the best way to capture the true essence of a place, or space, is to immerse yourself within the environment. Be captivated by the way the light falls, heightening your senses to the existing shapes, lines and textural elements. “It’s allowing the space to guide me, so I can express the unique, often surprising forms perfectly, whether naturally occurring or man-made,” she says. “With all that said, there’s something about the simplicity of nature. Immersing myself within nature and its calmness is truly my main source of inspiration.”
When she started her career, film was still predominantly used for commercial photography, and Francis was able to learn the craft first-hand working with her photographic mentors. “I feel digital can lead to a culture of endless post-production,” she says. “This project was an opportunity to move away from that, bringing some older values back. And there’s definitely a sense of calmness when you get back to basics, and a freedom when you set your own boundaries.”
Christine Francis is a Melbourne-based photographer specialising in interiors, architecture, design and landscapes. Published in international design and architectural publications, her work has taken her across the country and overseas.
She is inspired by both urban and rural environments, as well as different cultures and countries, and is passionate about the intimacy and creative possibilities that film based photography offers. America: En Route is her first solo exhibition.