Why I love to shoot Analogue – Film Photography / Jon Sparkman
As you might of noticed, this is a strange blog post for me to write, hence, I haven’t, this is a guest blog post by Jon Sparkman.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the way film looks and even as a solely digital photographer who uses a totally digital workflow, I am ever on the quest to make my images look analogue. I thought it might be fun have the point of view from someone who loves film and uses film – Dave.
First let me be clear, I still shoot digital, I have Canon and Fuji kits and make my preliminary shots with them. They’re my safety net in-case the film breaks or the camera snaps. My first brief stint with photography back in 2006, when film photography was still being taught in college. There was something about the process of loading and winding a film that was alluring, and the mystery of the shots that you took. Skip to 2012 and I take up photography on a full time basis, this time with a load more money to spend on film, cameras and fancy bits and bobs. I had a strong interest with fashion work, not because I liked fashion itself, but that the images told stories and poured emotion from the models. Personally I consider myself a fine-art fashion photographer, that helps me get away with shooting things out of focus and blurry. I don’t think anyone would ever hire me to shoot a catalogue collection, nor would anyone in the right mind do an article on how I shoot (prove me wrong camera companies…)
I’ve always wanted to be a little different, and I’ve tried to put that through in my photos. So often we see online the same repeated styles of shooting fashion/models, that it made me feel a little down in the dumps. I’ve been experimenting with different ways of altering pictures after they’ve been shot, and although I’d love to tell you how, it’s a guarded secret. What I can say though is that it’s only possible with using analogue roll film, and instant film. With digital you’re limited to ‘computerised’ fiddling, where as analogue you have a physical item, the only one there will ever be of that shot, and you’re about to damage it beyond repair in the name of being arty. It can be a bit unnerving, but if you pull it off, create something special and totally unique, you’ve pushed yourself beyond the millions of photographers out there who just shoot digital.
My two main film cameras are a Nikon FM, and a Polaroid 103. I picked up the Polaroid on an eBay auction for £10, and it came with a case, original flash and even some new film which had expired in 1973. The Nikon was my dads, it was the one I used in my A Level Photography. I got it serviced locally for about £90, and a new skin from www.cameraleather.com. The things are decades old, and completely indestructible. I pick up 35mm film from either Poundland (currently they’re stocking Agfa Vista 200), or bid on film bulk job lots on eBay, making sure I only average £2 per film. Couple this with develop only for the film, and home scanning, you can get the whole film bought, shot and revved for less than £10. The Polaroid takes slightly more expensive Fuji FP100c instant film, averaging about £13 for a 10 shot pack. You can get bulk discounts, like 20 boxes for £140 if you have the cash. Shooting on film isn’t as expensive as some might think, if you’re prepared to scan and not buy the primo top notch film stocks.
There’s no excuse to not shoot analogue!
Shooting wise, I’m not fussed about having the most advanced lighting or fanciest location. You can make some great shots in a house full of junk, with an on camera flash (I use mine at most shoots), as long as your shooting with context. Thinking about why the model should be there, why that potted plant should be smashed on the floor over there, and why the model should be wearing blue shiny pants is far more important than trying to perfect your 6-point lighting techniques. A rubbish idea cannot be saved by swishy lighting. Since I stopped caring about technical specifics (and what others thought), and started to concentrate on ideas and themes, my photography has grown into an organic extension of my ego. One of the most poisonous things in photography is to listen to the old, “classic” photographers. They will try and tell you how rule of thirds is ever so important, how this should be in focus but that shouldn’t be, and how if you don’t adhere to the rules they were taught, your photos will never garner interest. I’m here to tell you to purposefully ditch their antiquated notions, and to shoot however the hell you want to. Shoot in full auto, with a pop-up flash if you want to. Shoot upside down whist a model kicks your camera in the lens (use a cheap camera for this one) Sticking to rules and creating a technically proficient image doesn’t make a great photo. One with tons of emotion, feeling, spontaneity and context does. If that breaks these rules so be it, I enjoy breaking them.
About the author:
Jon Sparkman is a fine art fashion photographer, based in Cheltenham, UK.
His work is critically acclaimed and has been shortlisted for the AOP Student Awards 2015. http://www.sparkman.photography/