Can you tell us about your background in photography -- when and why did you start shooting and how did you come to film?
In the 80s and 90s I was shooting film because film was all there was, and it didn't occur to me that I had an art medium in my hands. I was in a thousand photos and a hundred miles of super 8 as an obliging child poseur, and as soon as I could, I was documenting holidays and family events myself, not very well & without demanding more.
At the same time, I was lucky enough to be able to use a darkroom at A Level College when I was a teenager. It was an extra-curricular course on a Wednesday afternoon. There were lots of different arty/sporty things that people did on Wednesdays, and I was drawn to the darkroom, and to developing and printing. I remember taking some execrable, imperfectly exposed shots around college, which pleased me very much. I turned them into funky graphic images by contact printing them onto coloured papers. I remember some great double exposures on red and blue paper - really bold and interesting. I liked the darkroom. I liked the smell. Magic, mystery, science, and watering eyes. Miracles! But darkroom stuff was at college and not really for real life, at least then.
Later in the 90s of course digital was ubiquitous, and it didn't occur to me to keep on with film. It was costly, and a faff. So I went digital for twenty years.
It took having a really decent digital camera and making some really nice landscapes with it to bring me to film. I was making pictures that weren't just documents but also pretty good pictures of beautiful places - like Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania when I climbed it in 2012 - and those pictures just weren't good enough. I couldn't put my finger on how and why they were so unsatsfying until I started using a Diana F+ given to me as a Christmas gift at the end of 2013 by my very prescient lovely partner. I was electrified, and there is no other word for it, by just how good these first bad pictures looked to me. My didge literally died in my hands. Digital pictures were good, but my goodness they were dull. MF gave me, quite clearly, a mountain to climb in terms of technique, but it also gave me a dream, and a vision, and a medium, and it did it immediately. I LOVE holding film cameras and handling film. And these days, darkroom stuff IS for real life. My colour work is handled by Photoghost lab, but from time to time, late at night, I make my kitchen into a darkroom and tray develop Washi or paper or x-ray sheets by red light.
What projects are you currently working on now?
Currently in photography I'm reviewing a false pano Minolta for one of the online blogs, semi writing an article for FSC that I plan to submit nearer Easterand interviewing a woman known to many of us for the She Shoots Film website (a slow business taking many weeks by email because we're all so busy).
What photographic endeavors would you like to try in the future?
Plans are many and varied. Summer plans include shooting some colour paper in camera and RA4-ing it (this looks terrific if you've ever seen it), and also getting the IR out again. I've a roll of colour IR in the freezer. I can hear it from here. I'm also deciding what cameras and lenses and films to take to Scotland with me in August. I'll be photographing landscapes and wildlife, and whatever else throws itself at me. I just bought a krab for my LCA+ and those two are definitely going. I've got a few new cameras and accessories to try out this year and it's ALL exciting. I'm still exploring the brilliance of the Gakkenflex clone that I made last year. It's one of those self-build TLRs that's mostly light leak and they take VERY exciting images. So I've got broadening and deepening my skills on the agenda. And cyanotype (and toning). I got a UV lamp for Christmas so that I wasn't reliant on the sun and haven't used it yet. And I need to stop just looking at this Konstruktor and build it. There are secret plans too.
Describe your Perfect Day (and/or Night) of shooting:
My ideal shooting day is probably a trip to somewhere I've never been before on a lovely sunny day - pure sunny or stormy/sunny or frosty/sunny, I don't mind - with half a dozen different cameras with different film in different formats in a nice big bag. That's it really. Recently I went to Crosby again where Anthony Gormley's Another Place lives on the beach and my kids and I walked on the beach and I photographed the Anthonys and then we had tea and chips from the snack van. I've never been so happy in my life.
One of my favourite shots of this year so far was taken in the garden in the early morning before the kids went to school. I took the recycling out and the garden was so nice I came back and got my Diana and took this great picture. It's a gift from the universe. But I love planning trips too, even if they end up being relative failures.
I'm not so much for night time or indoor photography, though I do both. It's sunshine I love.
No holds barred, what would be your Dream Shoot?
My Dream Shoot probably involves some kind of caddy with a trolley. And if we're really dreaming can I have great gifts of social confidence and competence bestowed upon me so that I can speak to people more easily and then photograph them? I do sometimes like to put a human in my shot, and I'm rarely brave enough to ask.
Last Question - If you could give any advice to someone just starting out in film photography, what would it be?
I'm aware that when I offer advice it's based on my experience of being me doing what I did...
I'll just say this. Embrace the process and don't worry about the product so much. Look with love on everything you photograph. If in doubt, take the shot. Buy cheaper groceries and a bigger fridge. You'll need that extra money and space like you wouldn't believe.