Victoria Fried has only been at photography for three years, but the 18-year-old Ossining High School senior is certainly making up for lost time, compiling an award-winning portfolio of images that dare you to look away.
In an age where digital photography promises the immediate payback of rapid-fire shutters delivering dozens of images in an instant, Fried (pronounced “FREED”) is decidedly old-school.
She shoots her photographs on film.
“Child,” by Tori Fried.
“Joy,” by Tori Fried.
“Karma,” by Tori Fried.
“Portrait,” by Tori Fried.
Fried’s works are among those on display at the Ossining Public Library through May 30, as part of the Ossining’s district-wide Art Show. There are drawings by kindergartners, paintings by middle-schoolers and photos by an old-school high-schooler whose friends call her Tori.
After taking teacher Ron Whitehead’s introductory digital photography class as a sophomore, Fried says, Whitehead introduced her to teacher Harry Quiroga who, as Fried describes it, turned his lunch period into a sort of guerrilla class in film photography.
“He taught me how to use the camera, what not to do with the film — like expose it to light or open it up — he taught me how to use the enlargers and the chemicals and then he kind of let me do my own thing, because it was his lunch period. It was my lunch period, too,” she says, “and over time, he has taught me more tips and techniques and given me more advice.”
Fried has taken every photo class offered at Ossining — Photo 1 through 4 — some a couple of times, learning how to get the most when she opens the shutter of Canon AE-1 and exposes an image to a thin band of film. She also takes Advanced Placement Art and studies painting and drawing.
“One of my teachers was making fun of me for shooting film all the time and came to me with an article saying that the process of film was more of an art form than an everyday method because cameras are so common now,” she says. “Film is more hands-on and you feel more accomplished when you finish the piece.”
The medium brings its own constraints and rewards, she says.
“When I shoot in film, I’m much more cautious about how I take my photos because I have ‘X’ amount of shots,” Fried says. “I feel that’s how I get better photos because I’m more careful about what I’m shooting. When I shoot digital, I can snap as many pictures as I want and they can all look awful and I have 100 awful photos that I’m not going to do anything with.
“When I shoot film, I’ll hunt down different articles of clothing for someone to wear and different places to take a photo rather than just saying, ‘Oh, that looks pretty. I’ll take a picture of a pretty tree.’”
She does shoot digital on occasion, using fast shutter speeds to freeze a frame showing a splashing droplet of milk or a swirl of smoke from a stick of incense.
“I caught a couple of smoke photos on film, but they weren’t very good,” she says.
Fried’s embracing of film goes against the typical teenage I-want-it-now grain.
“I’ll have three bags of undeveloped film in my bag and develop two at a time. Sometimes, when I look at my shots I think, ‘When did I shoot this?’ I love that surprise of not knowing what I have and then discovering it.”
If her medium of choice makes her unique, it caught the attention of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Fried heads next fall to major in photography.
“Their photo program is very well known and recognized, but the school itself is very make-your-own-path, follow-your-own-style. Before you learn all the technical stuff, you learn your own style, which is kind of backwards.”
It was her first choice for college and she was accepted on the strength of her film-photo portfolio alone. The school’s enrollment is 2,000, just 500 more than Ossining High School’s.
Her portfolio is heavy on black-and-whites.
“There’s this random quote by someone that goes: ‘Color captures clothes, but black-and-white captures souls,’” she says.
Her portfolio is also heavy on portraits, some of them of people she doesn’t know. Fried laughs when she says her friends find it creepy to be photographing anonymous people in coffee shops, “but it makes for a great photo.”
Top photo by Peter D. Kramer/The Journal News: Tori Fried in the darkroom’s revolving door at Ossining High School.