A Life in Focus

How Hipstamatic and Snapseed help this pro create stunning prints.

Photographer Rachael Short shoots all her work on an iPhone XS, but her love of film runs deep. “At first I was really anti-digital, actually,” she says. “I’d shoot everything on 4-by-5 film and dip and dunk it in a pitch-black closet.”

With the help of Hipstamatic, Rachael Short was able to continue her photography career after a life-changing car accident.

Chalk it up to Short’s formative years. At 12, she borrowed her father’s Canon to take portraits of her friends on the swim team. In high school, she began working with black-and-white film—and fell in love with the process of physically developing in the darkroom.

But a car accident in 2010 that left her quadriplegic changed her relationship to photography. She spent two months in the hospital before she was able to touch her nose. A year passed before she regained the strength to hold a small object.

Short works primarily in black-and-white. “Color for me was distracting,” she says.

Her digital workflow has remains largely unchanged: First she shoots in color with Hipstamatic, using mostly the John S and Jane lenses (although she’ll sometimes play around with Blanko film). 

Then she imports the image to the photo editor Snapseed, where she converts it to black-and-white. If she feels a filter is called for, she usually goes with Drama, which heightens the lights and darks.

Short captured many of her landscape photos on wheelchair-accessible trails.

Last, Short sends the digital file to her Epson printer, then works with a friend to produce a platinum print as an archival image.

Short shoots in color using Hipstamatic (top), then converts to black-and-white in Snapseed.

These days, Short has been photographing her native California, near Carmel. (She has a gallery there, called Exposed, that exhibits local artists’ work.) As a wheelchair user, Short often seeks out accessible locations in nature, like the coastal trail along Monastery Beach, the Carmel Mission, and Point Lobos. “It has great ADA trails, and it’s really flat and beautiful,” she says. “I can go in there and find new places to photograph all the time.”

Regardless of where she’s shooting, the line between film and digital has blurred for her, she says. “Now it’s more about the image and less about the technical and the equipment. It’s made me more focused.”

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