London-based photographer Rosaline Shahnavaz has been capturing her friends since she got her hands on her first camera. "I think my early work really defined my practice. It was more about documenting the in-between moments of our relationships as opposed to photographing something ‘perfect’," she tells me. "I still photograph this way, but it’s developed in the sense that I have to shoot under pressure for work and deliver photographs of strangers that communicate that same intimacy and feeling. I love blurring the boundaries in my work. I have the same approach regardless of whether it’s a fashion story, or a snapshot of a friend."
Her new exhibition, FERN, is the latest series in which she explores the relationship between photographer and model. Taken over the duration of a year, Rosaline captured those moments in life that, if not recorded, often become one big blur. "I cast Fern for an ad campaign I was shooting and we got on really well; we had this wonderful dynamic. I kept casting her for everything I was working on, then I had the idea for the book." From moving city and beginning new relationships to days out and doing nothing in the garden, the book is an intimate document of the everyday.
How did she decide what to photograph and what to leave unrecorded? "We’d make plans but the experiences happened organically. My camera’s presence is never particularly obvious – I prefer to have it in my pocket and just take it out and shoot when the moment feels right," she explains. "With Fern there was this brilliant role reversal – she’d text me letting me know she was free and wanted to do photos. I’ve kept the chain of messages, there’s something really special about them."
Experiencing these moments – the life-changing and the mundane – is the fibre of all friendships, and looking back at the physical manifestation of those events and conversations allows you to see how fast life really moves. "It was a transient period for both of us with home, work, relationships… We found answers in each other and naturally became closer," Rosaline tells me. "When I started to make the book, I laid out all the photographs in chronological order on my studio floor. It was cool to see our relationship evolve from start to finish. I'd love this to be an ongoing project – the book shouldn't mark the end."
Ahead, Rosaline gives us the context in which she shot Fern over the year, from days out at Clarence Pier funfair to dancing to No Doubt at Fern's new flat.