Brigitte Carnochan – Profile

Brigitte Carnochan is a Photographer. She studied English at San Jose State University, followed by an MA at Stanford in Education and a PhD on English at the University of California, Berkeley. She has produced a wide range of photographic works since the late 1990s starting with investigation of the classic genres of flowers and nudes. Her photographs frequently combining elements of painting that suffuse them with a semi-spiritual light. Most recently her work has investigated the hidden complexities within her own family having a father who was in the German Army during the Second World War. Her photographs used elements from her past to create photo-collages that are maps of memories. 

"My Life Before" © Brigitte Carnochan. Used with permission.

"Many of my clearest memories are about post-war food—like tomatoes growing in the community garden my grandfather regained after the war. There were also strawberries in that garden that ripened on my birthday and chickens in the back yard and the potato seller coming down the street with his cart, and memories of FINALLY being old enough and allowed to take a pail to the shop where we lined up to receive the milk ration. In my memory there seems to be an abundance of food, but in fact, there was severe rationing and many very hungry people, like elsewhere in Europe and the UK."


Excerpts from Carnochan's artist statement on "Imagining Then"

"Old photographs tease out fragments of memory—a laugh, a sigh, a conversation the camera interrupts and then suspends across time. Looking at photographs and documents that came to me after my parents died, I’m struck not only by how much I’ve forgotten but also how easily and quickly the past rushes back when called...

...Any life story includes love and loss, hope and fear, success and failure. Some focus on what is lost, others on what is found, and some will not believe that anything was lost (or found) at all."

  Brigitte Carnochan, 2009

Relevant Links


Visit Carnochan's website

Carnochan's "Imagining Then" project has it's own website as well.

Watch the complete "Imagining Then" keynote on Vimeo

Her books are available through Verve Gallery

Modernbook Gallery is showing images from Carnochan's "Floating World" project

Watch Carnochan speak at Modernbook Gallery about a few of her images


Selected Books


Brigitte Carnochan's book "Bella Figura"

Brigitte Carnochan's book "Bella Figura"


Brigitte Carnochan's book "The Shining Path"




Part of Brigitte Carnochan's "Imagining Then" series, "Beyond the Last Thought" explores the relationship between two complicated histories at different scopes— her family's and Germany's. In this video, Carnochan shares her process behind creating this image.


Sharing her photographic collage series, "Imagining Then," with PhotoWings, Brigitte Carnochan discusses her photograph, "Time Like a River," and reads a poem she wrote about the experience of reconnecting with her estranged father. "Imagining Then" was undertaken in order for her to process the emotions brought on by confronting a family history she only became aware of as an adult.

Brigitte was born in Germany during the Second World War. Her parents separated when she was three. While fighting for Nazi Germany, her father was captured by American troops and remained estranged from her until 1976. Shortly after the war, she and her mother immigrated to the US to begin a new life. When Brigitte was 35, her father finally made contact with her. After reconnecting to her birth father and her family, she spent the next 10 years trying to understand and interpret what she learned. "Imagining Then" was the product of her journey.