The Analog Profiles: Mia Krys
Written by Mary Thomas
Mia Krys carries a small box of exposed and not-yet-developed 4×5 sheet film in both hands as she walks from her in-home studio to her in-home darkroom. It’s not a long walk, but she holds the box close to her body; inside the cardboard walls and the black plastic wrapping is something that makes her who she is and inspires her to push boundaries and gives her a voice. At any moment a sliver of light could find its way into the box, contaminating the delicate sheets. She squeezes the lid tighter.
She’s made it safely to the darkroom. Even closed, the door leaks a small amount of light through the cracks, just as she expected. She covers any light with strips of tape, framing the door in bold lines of black and locking herself in for what will be hours, at the very least. With a breath of relief, she turns the lights out. Her sheets are safe. Now the process begins.
One of the most important aspects of what we do here at Blue Moon Camera has to do with the people that come through our doors. While we love the hardware and their output, we maintain our focus on the users that create the link between the two.
This series of profiles seeks to highlight particularly interesting users and their creations. Enter Mia Krys.
Mia started working with a Graflex Speed Graphic a few months ago. She decided to make the move from small and medium format after she’d evidently been letting her other camera sit on a shelf for far too long. When I asked Mia how her passion for large format photography began, I was only half-surprised to hear “Well, Jim sold me a camera”.
Mia then applied for a mentorship under Ray Bidegain in hopes of learning the ins and outs of 4×5. Ray accepted her and has been working with her since May. “He taught me everything I know about large format”. She now has a darkroom in her apartment and photographs full-time. Having completed her Liberal Studies degree at PSU, at some point she imagines returning to school to pursue a Masters in Fine Art. Perhaps once her portfolio thickens.
So why large format?
“Large format has always been this looming beast I was waiting to tackle one day, and now that I’ve done it I’m deeply in love. The idea of lugging this huge camera around and all of these film holders and large sheets of film probably wouldn’t appeal to many people, but everything from shooting to taping myself into my darkroom and processing is so attractive to me, because when you get that perfect shot, that shot that makes it through all of possibilities of being over or underexposed, or scratched, or light fogged, there are no words to describe how good it feels. It is truly magical.”
“I have always been drawn to things for their quality rather than their convenience, and film is no exception. My photographs are simple, and I place a lot of value and emphasis on the mood and quality of the work rather than the context at this point. For me, large format film is the end-all be-all of quality over quantity when it comes to photography.”
Mia highly appreciates the slow aspect of large format photography in the studio as well.
“I love the fact that the 4×5 slows down the process to allow for much more space and time for the subject and I to connect. This rings true whether the subject I’m shooting is a person or an inanimate object. In terms of models, in the end I think it makes the process more of a collaboration between us both. As they see what I’m doing and I explain it to them, they feel comfortable and enjoy being a part of it. That’s really important to me, you know, because most of the time I don’t work with professional models, so I really like to make sure that they’re comfortable, considering the nature of my work.”
Mia finds herself photographing almost exclusively women, which has a lot to do with her place as a queer woman in the community. She says that her work at this point “is highly focused on mood and experimentation and the form and architecture of the composition,” rather than the subject. But it is evident that she’s not merely composing beautiful images; she is telling a story, and women are central to the plot.
When I ask about ambitions and intentions with her work, Mia says, “How much art and media is there for gay women? Blue Is The Warmest Color, The L Word….I could count them on one hand.” She has a point. Today’s media is seriously lacking in representation of the gay community. Mia worries that the underrepresentation of queer women will only make it more difficult for young, struggling women to realize that there is an accepting community for them.When Mia was facing these issues herself a few years ago, she saw virtually no gay women in the media surrounding her. Underrepresentation of any group can feel isolating, uncomfortable, and unfair. These are exactly the feelings that have pushed Mia to make her art.
“In the near future, I want to use my skills to be more dedicated to the visibility of my own personal intersection in the queer community and beyond. [I want to] help perpetuate feminist ideas of liberation, resistance and the power that I believe women inherently hold, but all of that is brewing for now. Good things are in the mix.”
We look forward to seeing what Mia creates next.
Keep up with Mia and her work on Instagram @miakrys and on her website miakrys.com