Sonder is a five volumes photographic project presented in a box set. ‘Sonder’ is a fictional term
coined by John Koenig - author of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows - who composes words and
associates them to specific concepts he thinks are missing from the English dictionary. ‘Sonder’,
as Koenig states, is “the realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex
as your own;” however, while living this life, there are “thousands of other lives that you’ll never
know existed,” named as extras, “in which you might appear only once.” Koenig’s concept is the
common thread through out my work.
"My journey started in the area of Soho, London, beginning with Violet, an 89 year old lady. I asked
her to pose for me while having her picture taken, this short-lived moment has been frozen
through the medium of photography. This simple connection of taking a portrait is what has
enabled me to establish an authentic connection with her. Consequently, I started seeing her on a
daily basis, chatting, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes together. Whilst spending time with
her, she introduced me to four other individuals, each one of them has subsequently led me to
somebody else, creating an exponential effect.
This work is both a photographic and introspective journey into these character’s personal lives. I
looked around attentively, trying to establish short but intense bonds with my subjects, and to
capture these vivid moments in photographs. My journeys are based on trust and human
engagement; there is a delicate balance between all people in the story, a thin thread that led me
from one character to another, an essential thread that holds the narrative together.
With no artistic plan or expectation, I stepped into this photographic journey not even
questioning myself where exactly I would have arrived."
SFUK: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in photography.
RC:My name is Rossella Castello. I have recently graduated from University of Westminster, London, with a BA in Photographic Arts.
SFUK: Why do you shoot film, have you always shot film & do you switch between digital and film?
RC: I started shooting digital when I was around fourteen. Let’s say I started experimenting with a camera more than actual shooting! When I was eighteen, my grandad gave me an old Voigtlander film camera. The first film came out totally blank, I didn’t even load it properly. I guess I have been shooting film since then. I like how my subjects react really positively to the fact I am using film cameras, in particular with my Hasselblad; I can see it on their face that they are curious about the whole process that lies behind a shoot, and I guess this leads them to trust me more.
SFUK: Who inspires you, any favourite people or places you frequently go to for inspiration?
RC: I was just having a look at Aleksey Kondratyev’s new project, ‘Ice Fishers’. I find it absolutely fascinating, and a great source of inspiration for my own practice too. There are no faces, no expressions, no clearly visible features of the subjects he portrays, but only bodies covered in plastic, which perfectly merge within the landscape they are set in. I think it is a brilliant body of work.
SFUK: How would you describe your style of shooting?
RC: I am mainly fascinated by the intimate environments of my subjects; I like to explore where they live, where they spend their time, what is the place they called ‘home’. Because of this, I guess my photography could be defined as ‘gradual’. I like talking with my subjects and wait until I know enough to understand how I want to portray them. What I like most is when I have two subjects who are talking one to the other, really engaged in their conversation that they forget about me. That’s when I take my favourite pictures.
SFUK: If you could have any camera in the world, which would you choose and why?
RC: At the moment I am after a Yashica T4. Really small and easy to carry, really intimate but still fantastic quality
SFUK: Do you have any plans for your next project?
RC:I’m currently working on a new photographic project, which would probably take me quite a long time to complete. It’s based in London and hopefully I would share some images online soon.
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