Interviews

Q&A: Sarah Kastrau’s Like Ghosts

Earlier this year, German photographer Sarah Kastrau released her photozine Like Ghosts, documenting a number of gigs throughout 2013 and capturing bands like Light Bearer, Downfall of Gaia, and Celeste in a state of spectral beauty. Similar to the work of Irish photographer Hugh McCabe and his Traces of the Real work, Kastrau’s photos create an ethereal and haunting vibe by distorting and blurring the faces and bodies of the performers caught in the moment during a show. Here, Sarah answers a couple of questions about creating her latest body of work Like Ghosts. Check out the gallery of shots below too.

When did you start taking the photos for Like Ghosts?
The photos for the zine were taken during the whole year of 2013.

What was the inspiration behind the “ghost” theme and what does it mean?
The ghost theme refers to both the images as well as to the material itself. Most of my photos are blurry, to the point that the people in them are hardly recognizable as such. Instead, I get morphing lights, moving shadows and a feeling of “unrealness”. In regards to the material, the negatives themselves are thin, white sheets. They are of a fleeting nature, sensitive to light, and their lifespan is short since oxidation of chemicals destroys the image over time. I try to preserve them by washing and fixing them, but ultimately I think there is no way to keep them from falling apart.

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Could you explain how you captured these photos in such a way?
I use a vintage Polaroid Land Camera 230, the model was built from 1967 to 1969, and peel-apart black and white instant film. The images depicted in Like Ghosts are not the actual positives, but the reclaimed paper negatives. In the pre-digital age those negatives used to be nothing but trash. While being necessary for processing the image, their opaque flipside made it impossible to put them in an enlarger like a regular film negative. Digital processing allows me to see them, and they are usually richer in detail and tonal range than the positives.

What are your personal favourites from the collection?
It’s hard to pick favourites, since every photo is connected to the memories of a certain event which all hold some kind of value. From an aesthetic point of view, my favourites are those which are almost completely black, where everything seems to drown in that darkness.

Many of the bands featured share a similar musical and visual aesthetic. Did this play a part in choosing what bands to feature?
No, I simply take photos of the bands I like and listen to, although not everyone I’d like to see live makes it over to Europe. I would not take photos of a band I don’t like, the material is too expensive to waste it on something I don’t care about.

Pick up a copy of Like Ghosts HERE

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