Hannah Russell

Ahmed

Hannah Russell (b. 1987) is a native of Streator, Illinois, although she spent the majority of her life living in Bloomington, Illinois. Beginning in 2006, she attended Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, where she majored in fashion design with a concentration in art, literature and philosophy. Her interest in art and design eventually led her to both the front and back of a camera, and a love for film photography and production.

In 2008, Russell transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to pursue a photography degree. For the next two years, she honed her processing and printing skills with black and white and color negative film, experimented with various photographic processes, and developed a thorough understanding of digital photography and digital editing software. During this time, she participated in the school’s study abroad program, “Art & Design in the Scottish Highlands”, traveling throughout Scotland and Spain. A newfound curiosity evolved from traveling abroad. The camera became a tool for discovery.

Exploring different cultures became a second passion and after graduation in 2010, Russell combined these interests in personal projects, such as her extensive small town documentary work in rural and poverty-stricken Mounds, Illinois, and later as a bilingual teacher at a small, private school in the Central American country of Honduras. In both experiences, she spent several months integrating within the community, working along side its people, and developing life-long friendships. These projects influenced the development of her philosophy behind photography: to help others, reveal injustices, explore cultures, and capture true human interaction.

An avid chronicler, Russell has consistently kept a hand-written journal since she was a young girl. Shooting and writing are inseparable as she records her observations and thoughts of the people and communities she photographs.

Russell continues to shoot digital and film simultaneously, recognizing the importance of proficiency in traditional and new technology. While her passion and artistic vision favors film, Russell strives to utilize whatever formats work best for the assignment or client. She has a strong desire to preserve all forms of art, craft, and hard-copy materials. As a student, she worked in the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University, repairing and restoring various printed materials, such as antiquated books, maps, and photos. The importance in these documents’ sustainability influenced Russell to utilize archival materials within her own art.

Russell is currently working with alternative methods of printing in the sun, such as cyanotypes and salted prints. Based out of Bloomington Normal, IL, she works as a second shooter at Mark Romine Photography.

-Hannah Russell

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