The Cinematic Nostalgia of Amy Braaf’s womxn magic photography

Studying film production and English Literature at the University of Cape Town, Amy Braaf honed her photographic prowess through self-study with the intention of constructing imagery that appears to be film stills. Currently based in South Korea, she writes for the Korean magazine Gwangju news and has been published on Vogue Italy’s online Photovogue platform. “A cinematic photographer was something I’ve always aspired to be – to capture a world that captured me. My mother raised me all by herself, and with the help from my aunties and my grandmother I was shown an artistic world filled with dancing to Frank Sinatra, painting in between meals and filming anything and everything that life had to offer.”

Cinematic–as though these reflections were in fact film stills. The banal becomes removed from reality taking on the form of a hyper-reality. Colours and tones accentuated. She illuminates her lensed characters with plays on perspective and final presentation. Capturing the female form with both sensitivity and beauty, her work is a statement of empowerment. Her womxn are strong.

The tool of her craft takes on the shape of a Sony A7sii with a 50mm lens. Enthralled by the editing process Amy’s fascination lay in the ability to manipulate memory in such a way as to reproduce a cinematic feel and world, this is where the magic strikes for her. As a writer she views her cinematic still replicas as a way of speaking when she can’t find the words to express her intent. At present her writing and images meet mentally in a union, as she is working towards a magical realism novella based between South Africa and South Korea. “…I capture the whimsical aspects of life that we often miss, the silences in between glances and our innermost desires of wanting to be seen – a world that wants to be lived in.”

“…the people I photograph can range from womxn I meet in hostels in Hong Kong, to collaborators in my field, actresses who work on set[s] of short films or perfect strangers I meet. These are people who are a part of a larger story, they are participants of creating a world that adds magic to conversations, they are passionate just as I am – and they are effortlessly full of stories and ideas to share with those around me. I’m doing my part in helping them have a platform to have their voices heard.”

Photography by Amy Braaf

Amy expresses that the feel of her images can be closely paralleled with the films that her eyes consume acting as inspiration. They include films by Wong Kar-wai whose colour palette she admires as well as Jean-Pierre Jeunet with films such as Amelie. She unpacks her interests in these films by stating that there is something unusual about their tone, trying to place her finger on it she concludes that perhaps it is the use of teal and orange with flickers of blue and red which highlights the objects perfectly in her opinion.

“All of my different series hold various messages close to them, but my latest series has been fully focused on conveying the power of the creative womxn. To bring out the goddess that is suppressed within us, and the dreamer that hides behind our shoulders – too afraid to show face. All of the womxn I photograph are provided an open space to express themselves, just as they are – whatever they believe that [is]. My work simply shows how easy it is to channel into our ethereal and dreamlike state – in which we can show our talents and beauty in its rawest form.

My photographs all share one clear emotion – nostalgia with a hint of hope. I want them to be rich with feelings, and open to the viewer – I want my photographs to empathise with you and bring out emotions that you didn’t know you needed to feel.”

Model: Nina Lawrenson
Model: Nina Lawrenson
Model: Kelly Belter
Model: Lili Bo Ming
Model: Kelly Belter
Model: Liza Scholtz
Model: Grace Moon
Model: Liza Scholtz

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