What was your first experience with the SuperGrannies?
I had known about the SuperGrannies for several years before I ever photographed them. I’d worked in the slum where they live doing different stories over the years and had heard of this group of grandmas who’d taken up fighting in order to defend themselves and, of course, the idea of a group of elderly women learning martial arts immediately jumped out at me. The problem was I couldn’t ever quite figure out how I might be able to photograph the story through that traditional photojournalism lens. I wanted to do something a little more creative, a little quirky, something that straddled the line between traditional photojournalism and art. It took a little while to come up with the idea, but once I had it, I went searching for them and was quickly invited to one of their meetings. They sang a song, did a dance, strung up a bag full of clothes to use as a punching bag, and the rest is kind of history!
How did you feel afterwards?
I really loved photographing this group. They were such an inviting and positive group of women and were a real pleasure to photograph. I think what was tough was realizing that the reasons for this group ever forming in the first place came about because of a really tough set of circumstances. Many of these elderly women had been prayed upon while living in the slum because of their age and had faced both physical and, in some cases, sexual assault.
What was the most challenging moment during photographing the SuperGrannies?
The most challenging part of this project wasn’t so much the photography itself, but rather all of the technical parts of the project – which included shooting in film, developing this film, digitizing the negatives, and then finally manually coloring in each photograph to get the exact look I wanted. Although I had started off in photography shooting and developing my own photographs back in university, this was a bit of a relearning process, and the colorization of the project an entirely new skill I had to develop.
What is your inspiration behind the style of this collection?
The inspiration for the style of this collection really goes back to the very first methods of color photography. Before color film, if you wanted color photographs you had to get an artist to individually color in each photograph. It was an extremely time consuming process, but one that created beautiful photographs. This process of course mostly died out once color photography was invented, but was always something I wanted to incorporate into modern photography in order to create that juxtaposition of an olden day photograph in a modern setting.
My reason for then creating trading cards out of these portraits is that this seemed to fit in well with the ethos around NFTs. I liked the idea of giving these grandmas a supernatural identity and perhaps giving the project an appeal beyond that of what would be the usual audience.
I also loved the idea that by creating NFTs out of these photographs I’d essentially be transcending several eras of photography. The analog era of film, the digital era of computers, and what I see as the future era of photography and Web3.