I like the physicality of film and, by extension, the negative. I like the fact that I use my hands to sculpt light in the darkroom, adding or subtracting layers of exposure until the final print is reached.
Pleasure to have you here, Kit. Mind telling us about yourself and a brief story on how you got into film photography?
Kit: While I began taking photographs several years ago, I only started taking the medium of photography seriously when I discovered the hands-on nature of black-and-white film and what are now referred to as 'traditional' printing methods. For me, nothing else will do. Film photography allows me to consider my work over time as part of a creative process. I thoroughly enjoy printing my own negatives. Every moment spent in the darkroom gives me a chance to reflect on what I have done and learn from my mistakes. I'm not one for planning individual photographs or indeed photography projects. Instead, I take photographs on the spur of the moment. The four sides of the negative are my point of reference – they enable the viewer to see what I have seen.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Kit: I've come across a lot of people who swear by this, and swear by that, but I'm not actually too bothered what film I use, so long as it's made by a reputable manufacturer (to my eyes there are currently three: Bergger, Ilford and Kodak). I used to use Kodak Tri-X but, following a recent price hike, I switched to Ilford HP5+ and Bergger Pancro 400. I don't really have a preference when it comes to film but if you were to give me a roll of Tri-X, HP5+ or Pancro 400, I'd be a happy man. While film choice is important, exposure and development are twice as important--mess up either and it's back to the drawing board.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Kit: I couldn't really tell you. It's been years since I had anything to do with a digital camera... I can tell you about what I like about using negatives to make silver gelatin prints. I like the physicality of film and, by extension, the negative. I like the fact that I use my hands to sculpt light in the darkroom, adding or subtracting layers of exposure until the final print is reached.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Kit: I've always printed my own photographs from the word go. For me, the negative provides a point of departure, and the print a destination. I don't think I'd ever entrust that journey to anyone else: printing is an intrinsic part of my process, without it, my prints wouldn't be mine.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
Kit: I just bought 400 rolls of film so that motivates me to continue. On a more serious note, I think the next big surprise or discovery motivates me to continue--such "surprises" or "discoveries" can happen when I'm taking photographs or when I'm printing in the darkroom. "Surprises" or "discoveries" in relation to taking photographs can be triggered by a specific focal length I'm using, specific lighting conditions or specific textures and lines in the landscape but more often than not they're triggered by mistakes. It is for this reason that I always trust my instinct when I decide to take a photograph of something--I find that questioning things too much in the act of creation results in me losing my balance and puts a stop to my creative flow. Be that as it may, I like to question things in the darkroom--in fact, I'd say that being able to question composition, light and tone is one of the key attributes to being a printer (especially of one's own work).
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Kit: Well, of course, there are a number of masters of photography whose work I greatly admire but I'll avoid quoting names which have been quoted a million times before me. Instead, I'd like to point out that I'm currently a member of the AllFormat Film Photography Collective (Instagram, website) which comprises nine photographers. Being part of a collective, with everyone working together to drive things forward, is quite an inspiration in itself. I urge anyone reading this interview to go check out the AllFormat members' work now, especially that of James Moreton, Mikael Siirilä, Lorenzo Ferraro, Tatsuya Totsuka and Davide Padovan. In addition to AllFormat, there is a number of brilliant photographers posting regularly on Instagram, including: Ty Philips, Silas Slack, Mike Mueller, Jerome A, Renato Repeto, Sean Welsh, Benjamin MacMaster, Laëtitia Deleuze, Nick Exposed, Emily Brewer, nonamefilm, Vienna Santos, Louie Moskowitz, Jacqueline Badeaux, and many more. I always feel inspired by those who create and are willing to share their creations on a regular basis. I also get a great deal out of being able to interact with people over Instagram--the platform plays host to a nice, small community of like-minded people.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Kit: In relation to my own work, yes. I'd say that shooting film enables me to print my negatives in the darkroom using a Leitz Focomat enlarger. The prints I make are all objects--valuable objects--since each print is the unique manifestation of my vision as a photographer and printer. I wouldn't have the same objects were I shooting, say, digitally--sure, I'd have objects, but I wouldn't consider them to be of any value. As such, I've always considered what I do in the darkroom to be a "craft" which could be likened to making sculptures with bronze or painting with watercolours or oils... I refuse to use a digital camera and "printer", just like a sculptor using bronze or a painter using watercolours or oils may refuse to use a 3D printer or Microsoft Paint to give life to their vision... It all boils down to choice, I suppose, and I'm very happy with my choice of silver halides.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Kit: As things stand, pretty busy! I'll soon begin designing and building a new, bigger darkroom so that I can make contact sheets for the 250 or so rolls of film I've processed over the last year. I'll then be able to start selecting potential keepers and exploring the infinite possibilities of each frame in the darkroom before making final prints and, hopefully, sharing some new work online.
What’s your dream photography project?
Kit: A book!
Any good words you want to impart for those who want to try film photography? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Kit: Any learning will be done as you shoot, develop and print. Enjoy every second of it, especially the first time you see a photograph appear in the developer--it's magical! Trial and error is a great way to progress and improve so just keep on.
Kit will be working with the AllFormat Collective on Issue Two of their limited edition zine.
"We're almost there with everything so it shouldn't be long now. It's a very exciting time. If you're interested in picking up a copy, make sure you're following AllFormat on Instagram--Issue. One sold out in five days flat so keep your eyes peeled!"
Kit is a master printer and a member of AllFormat Film Photography Collective—a diverse, global collective of nine dedicated photographers who came together through a mutual love of film.
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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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