Analogue Sunrise interview

Link: Analogue Sunrise

The interview in full:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 38 years old, recently married, with a one year old son, and a seven year old step-son. Through photography, I have become far more aware of the beauty in the world around us, and I enjoy trying to capture a little of this. As well as photography, I have a passion for music, and I think that photographs can be enhanced with a little musical accompaniment.

2. What inspired you to pick up film photography?

I grew up on film photography, I remember my mum using an Olympus Trip and my dad’s old Pentax SLR.. I loved the excitement of film photography as a boy, using some sort of 110 cartridge camera (I forget what it was exactly) – I felt like I could capture secrets, and when I was about 18 or 20, I bought an Olympus OM1, which I replaced with an Olympus OM10 after a couple of years, and I still use today. When digital cameras first arrived on the scene, I purchased an early Nikon CoolPix, but I just found the results to be too flat and lacking in character. So before long I switched my attentions back to analogue, and there I have remained.

Since moving down to Brighton on the south coast, I’ve met lots of people who share this passion for film photography, and there’s a great melting pot for shared ideas and techniques in Brighton. I suppose what I try to achieve through my photography is to capture some of the quirky and natural beauty of the world around me.

3. I see that a large portion of your film photography is used with the beloved LC-A+ Is it safe to say the LC-A+ is your go-to camera?

I always carry at least one LC-A with me at all times, plus often another  loaded with different film. These small point and shoot cameras are perfect for me as they are easy to use, and I never miss a moment as there are very few settings to adjust, plus they are small and just fit in a pocket. I know the capabilities and limitations of them, which gives me a better chance of more good shots on each roll of film. The LC-A is excellent for low lighting shots too: longer exposures lead to lovely vignetting and play with the light and colours.

4. What type of environments are your favorite to capture on film?

I like scenes and environments which evoke a sense of atmosphere, and which can perhaps lead to a cinematic feel to my images. So, hidden corners of cities, deserted underground stations, or Brighton beach on a barren winter’s day.. But I like to capture real scenes, with real people, imperfections and all. I mess around a bit with double exposures too, and particularly enjoy combining graffiti with street scenes.

5. Favorite type of film?

Cross-processed colour slide film is really my standard, and I have tended to use the Kodak EliteChrome 100. However with Kodak no longer making this, and my stocks dwindling, I have been trying out a few others, including Rollei Digibase 200, and Fuji Provia 400. I much prefer cross processing when the colours are enhanced, rather than shifted too much towards anything in particular. And Kodak Ektar is great for normal processing.

6. Browsing through your Flickr you have some amazing shots of Brighton Beach. Tell us what it’s like shooting out there.

Brighton Beach is a wonderful place to shoot, both for day trippers and also super-keen photographers. There’s the Palace Pier, with its funfair and arcades, as well as the skeletal burnt-out remains of the West Pier, just a few hundred metres away. In the summer the beach is packed out with tourists, and it’s perfect for people watching, so there will always be interesting characters to snap. But the weather can really change, and the beach changes in atmosphere with the seasons. There can be intense sea mists, which hang just off the coast, and amazing clouds and moody skies. Through the winter months there are often fierce winds, which whip up some impressive white water. And during those months at dusk, there are also enormous starling murmurations – where thousands of birds flock together, swirling in the sky before they settle down to roost under the pier. It’s an incredible scene. You see, there is always something going on down at Brighton Beach. It’s always fresh.

7. You recently had a photo exhibition in London. How did that feel?

Yeah – that has been great – it’s in a really busy restaurant in a good area. The walls are all white-washed so the images stand out, and it’s exciting to see them printed up to a decent size and framed – kind of how they should be seen. It has been interesting gauging people’s reactions to them too, something we don’t always get a chance to see. I’m also gearing up for Brighton’s Open House Festival (www.aoh.org.uk). I’ll effectively be turning my house into a gallery (alongside a great textiles designer Zoe Murphy) and opening the doors to the public for every weekend in May, and will hope to have several hundred visitors throughout the month. Brighton is buzzing in May, it’s a great time to visit, and it’ll be fun again to get some feedback on my images, and hopefully to meet a few new people.

8. Do you ever find yourself collaborating with other photographers?

I have been involved with a small handful of collaborations, but I’m quite choosy about them, as I tend to like knowing what I’m doing to an extent. I have done film swaps with Brighton’s excellent Steve “Captainbonobo” Wrigley, and also the wonderful Akiko “Catfordst32” Hashimoto, plus the amazingly talented Hodaka “hodachrome” Yamamoto. I really admire each of their work, and as I have a real fondness of Japanese culture, it’s been a dream to see my images combined with Akiko and Hodaka. With Hodaka, we also took the film swap idea a little further, and have done a couple of “EBS” (expose both sides) swaps – one shoots a side of the swap on the “normal” side of the film, and the other swaps the film over and shoots on the red scale side, so combined on one frame are 2+ images and normal and red scale colours, this has produced some really cool results.

9. I have to ask. Film or Digital? Your thoughts?

Whilst digital photography can produce some impressive images, I can’t help feeling that the emphasis is more on the quality (and cost) of the equipment, the zoom lens and the rest of the kit as well as the photographer’s ability to manipulate an image in Photoshop or Lightroom, than the act of taking photographs that evoke a sense of feeling. It seems to me that an average digital starting shot can be made into something amazing through somebody’s computer skills, rather than photographic ability. With film photography, there is far more emphasis on ensuring that the picture is right in the first place and then embracing the imperfections once the film is developed. I believe that film photography has more soul.

10. Any advice for someone who is starting out with film photography?

Embrace the imperfections! And keep trying. When I first started taking photographs, the good ones were few and far between. And it’s the same as I try out different cameras. But there no better feeling that getting prints back from the lab, and finding the little successes from each roll. And the more you practise, the more chance you have of getting more keepers. And remember that you are keeping a wonderful past-time alive.

11. In what direction do you see film photography heading in the next 10-20 years

It’s difficult to say, as fewer films are now being made, and some of the best films are no longer being produced. It’s where Lomography Society have helped, as they are actively encouraging film photography and helping to keep it alive, along with several films. If this encourages different generations to keep analogue photography going, when all around us other people are looking for an instant fix, instant results, and images that you just take, look at and delete in a flash, then Lomography is doing some good. And so I just hope that the best films aren’t consigned to history. But looking through the Analogue Sunrise Flickr page, there is obviously a massive love for analogue still, so hopefully it’ll end up going from strength to strength.

http://analoguesunrise.com/toby-fotobes-mason-interview/