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  • Caiti Borruso Photographs a Place of Her Childhood in ‘Shady Acres’

    Caiti Borruso is a 24 year-old photographer based in Brooklyn, USA. Born and raised in New Jersey, she lived in a few different towns with her mother, before she moved to New York at eighteen where she received her BFA in 2016. She now works at Dashwood Books, and spends time in a darkroom and publishing books. In her series Shady Acres, Caiti returns to a familial campground after six years without contact. The project has been published by Elementary Press in 2018.

    How did you get interested in photography?
    I had an uncle who liked photography, and he introduced me to it with a point-and-shoot. I was in middle school at the time and couldn’t afford a “real” camera, so I did a lot of research on shutter speed, ISO, all of the technical stuff, so that I’d be prepared when I did get a real camera. I took a lot of pictures of fire hydrants with that point and shoot, and bad pictures of myself. Toward the end of my first year of high school in 2009, my mom found a cheap Minolta at our neighbor’s yard sale. She spent a long time cleaning the battery acid out of it and then we went to the A&P (which is now gone) to get film. I then started making self portraits and that was basically it; I haven’t stopped.

    Introduce us to your series Shady Acres
    Shady Acres is the name of a campground that my aunt owned for a long time, from the time that I was a child to 2016. We were estranged from that part of the family for about six years, right around the time that I started making pictures up until my first summer in New York. I had been forbidden to go there, but I was living alone, so I bought a bus ticket and went.

    Childhood Memories with Isabelle Baldwin
    You left for six years and when you came back, the place was exactly the same. Has photography and this new point of view been a way to reconnect with your surroundings and your environment?
    I brought my camera because I knew it would make it easier to take pictures of everyone. When I went back, it really was like nothing had changed, except I had new cousins I had never met, and my grandmother’s trailer had been sold.

    “This project helped me learn when to leave things be, when to use the camera, and when to get others involved.”

    It was exciting for me that it looked the same, because I could make pictures of things I remembered from childhood, things I hadn’t been able to photograph then.

    I went back a few times a summer over the next three years, and at the end of the summer of 2016 my aunt sold it and moved to Florida. It was a project I had wanted to continue forever – Shady Acres is a magical place – but it also helped me learn when to leave things be, when to use the camera, and when to get others involved. During a birthday party, I was a little drunk, and couldn’t hold both my Pentax 6×7 and the flash (they’re both heavy individually, and wrangling them sober is a challenge enough), so my cousin helped me, and it was something really nice, something I still remember really fondly. I felt like part of the family. Making the pictures, and pacing around this place, and taking a long walk all the way down the hill to the river and then back up to the campground, felt like doing something I should have done much earlier.

    Why did you choose to work in black and white?
    I stuck to black and white because I hate the way color film looks in the summer sunlight – it’s too harsh for me – and because I could process it all myself, which was cheaper. My way of making pictures changed over the three years I was photographing there; I went from shooting square, to shooting both 35 and large format, to finally settling on 6×7, mostly with a Pentax.

    Do you come back often?
    I haven’t been in over a year now. I went back at the beginning of last summer for my cousin Sam’s high school graduation, but that was it.

    Enjoy Caiti’s work on her website.


    The Delaware River – the divisive line between myself and my Pennsylvania family – would sound like tiny water bugs skimming across the gap, like inflatable tubes bumping against one another with rubbery squeaks, and laughs. It would sound like Donna’s laugh from ten campsites over. It would sound like crossing the train tracks, looking both ways too many times before scampering over with the tubes, in life jackets and water shoes that never fit. I left for six years and it sounds exactly the same, a phenom I don’t understand yet.