Digital photography is a helicopter ride to the top of Everest. You get there with no effort and you think you’ve achieved something, but you haven’t.
Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Andrew: I became interested in photography because my dad had a couple of cameras at home in the early 70’s and he wasn’t using them. I borrowed them to take pictures of my mates messing about and became really interested in it. 5 years later I got to go to Art College and study it properly.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Andrew: I mainly use Ilford HP5, but I also shoot on X-Ray film, Ortho film, Lith film and paper. I don’t stick to one type of camera either, I shoot on all formats from half-frame, up to 10x8. My favourite 35mm cameras are; Pentax Spotmatic, Nikon F5, Rollei B35. My favourite medium format are; Rolleiflex, Yashicamat, Mamiya RB67 and Zeiss Ikon Nettar. My fave large format are; MPP 5x4, Nagaoka 5x4, Kodak Specialist 5x7, and my Walker Titan 10x8.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Andrew: It is a craft and it takes time, dedication and skill to produce good work with it. Digital appeals to lazy photographers who want a quick fix. Digital photography is a helicopter ride to the top of Everest. You get there with no effort and you think you’ve achieved something, but you haven’t.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Andrew: I print all of my own stuff and would never let a lab print for me. The print is the most important part of the process. This is also why I am never satisfied with just scanning my negs, - I have to have a print that I can hold in my hand.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Andrew: I see 50 shots a day, I have to have a camera with me all of the time, usually more than one. If I don’t have one near I feel uneasy. I have learned that I am easily distracted by small things and that I can be impulsive and obsessive.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Andrew: Yes, quite a few. The first one would be my old friend Porl Medlock, who was in the year above me at Art College and was producing interesting stuff when I first arrived. After that I became interested in the work of; Richard Avedon, Bill Brandt, Harry Callahan, Robert Demachy, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Arnold Newman, Irving Penn, Sabastiao Salgado, Edwin Smith, W. Eugene Smith, Frederick Sommer, Edward Steichen, Jerry Eulsmann, Edward Weston, Horst P Horst, Robert Parke Harrison, Baron Adolf De Meyer, David Eustace, Ion Zupcu, Roger Ballen, Trevor Crone, Josef Sudek, Wright Morris, Bradford Washburn, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Albert Watson, Josef Koudelka, Leonard Missone, Minor White, Raymond Moore, Francesca Woodman, Joel Peter Witkin.
Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?
Andrew: If I knock my neg file off the table it doesn’t wipe everything I’ve done. Also, I don’t need expensive upgrades, or back up. I can print a glass negative from 1915 exactly the same way that I would print a neg I shot yesterday. Other merits are the discipline it imposes, the anticipation of shots taken, but not seen yet. The beautiful and varied results of different film types, and the joy of using simple manual cameras.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Andrew: I think it is looking really good. I’m really pleased that so many young photographers are rediscovering it. I hope that they try darkroom though before it disappears.
What’s your dream photography project?
Andrew: No, I don’t do projects.
Would you like to offer some good words to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Andrew: They must learn to understand light and exposure, even with advanced camera metering systems. They must understand how to control contrast, and they should look at what has been produced by photographers in the past (often with very basic equipment) before thinking that they are a genius.
It's true what Andrew said about film photography, "it is a craft and it takes time, dedication and skill to produce good work with it". You need to develop your skills as a film photographer because it can offer a deep sense of personal achievement. It can also improve your life in a significant way and further demonstrate the value of art in society.
Cheers for taking time out and sharing your inspiring thoughts with us, Andrew.
If you're in the UK and interested to learn film photography + darkroom printing/ techniques, get in touch with Andrew through his Blog or through his Instagram and Facebook pages. He holds darkroom workshops at many Colleges and Universities there in the UK.
Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Andrew Sanderson. He devoted his time, and worked so damn hard in making these photographs. You are not allowed to copy, download, reproduce, reprint, modify, distribute, publicly display, license, transfer or sell content retrieved from this page in any way, for any public or commercial use or to any commercial source, including other websites, without prior written permission of Andrew Sanderson. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?
Well now, if you are a passionate film photographer and would like to be interviewed? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, "Interview me", and share your story, thoughts, and work related to film photography. I’ll get back to you as soon as I receive your request for an interview.
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