I am Bellamy Hunt and this is why I shoot film
Welcome to the first EMULSIVE interview of 2016, glad you stopped by!
We’ve got some cracking interviewees lined up this year and we’re hoping to start off with a bit of a bang, thanks to the one and only Bellamy Hunt, aka Japan Camera Hunter.
He’s a busy, busy man and isn’t one to share his personal photography that often, so we’re doubly honoured to be able to have him here today talking about why he shoots film, as well as giving us a look at some of his beautiful images.
Over to you, Bellamy.
Hi Bellamy, what’s this picture, then?
This is one of the first pictures I took on film in Tokyo after being given an old Minolta camera by a co-worker. I had not shot film for a few years and I was not really getting any enjoyment from my digital camera at the time.
I was given the old Minolta (which stank of old tobacco) and went out shooting with it the day I got it. I could only afford one roll of film at the time, as I was on a tiny wage, so I really did my best to make every shot count.
I guess this image is important to me as it was a stepping stone for me to become JCH. The picture itself is nothing special, but it has significance in that it woke me up to enjoying photography again and getting out there.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
Just a guy who likes film photography and cameras. Oh, and who sells all that stuff too.
Plenty of others have written about me, I don’t think I can better their words.
When did you start shooting film?
I first started really seriously shooting when I was about 14 years old. For some time I had been using a camera that my father had given but then I went out and got my own and I started shooting a lot. I built a mini studio for macro work in my bedroom and tried out just about every technique that I could. I developed the film myself at the local college in the evenings.
It carried on throughout school and college and then for some unknown reason I decided to do a degree in something totally different from photography….but I still kept on shooting.
After university I travelled a lot around the world and kept on shooting but never with any real purpose, much like my life at the time.
When I settled in Japan I finally bought into the hype and got a digital SLR. At first, I loved it but I became disillusioned with it after a while and that was when I was fortunate enough to cross paths with my generous co-worker.
What about now, why do you shoot film?
Because I have the option to do so and I like the results. Simple.
What drives you to keep shooting?
I am not sure really. I can go long periods without shooting, but then I will have a burst of energy and shoot a lot. I really prefer to shoot when I am traveling, though. So the desire to travel has an effect on my shooting. Fortunately I get to travel a fair bit with my work, so I get to shoot in different places – Thailand, Hong Kong, the USA and the UK in 2015.
It is a shame that I am so absolutely awful at organizing my images.
Any favourite subject matter?
Detritus and the human affliction. And landscapes. Anything really. I just take pictures of things I like and things that amuse/anger/depress me.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
Fuji Velvia 50. Because the colour will live with me forever then, even if my eyes are old and failing.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What to you take with you and why?
I probably wouldn’t ever let myself get into this situation, but I guess I would have to say the setup I have now.
I basically always carry my Leica MP-6 with a 35mm Summicron ASPH. It always either has a roll of Eastman Kodak Double-X, or a roll of Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 in it. So I am pretty much covered on that one.
I love the rich contrast of the Double-X. It is a film that I really seem to be comfortable using, and it is very forgiving in most lights. The Fuji X-Tra is a super easy film to use and has very nice clean colour; I use both regularly.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
Somewhere I have never been before. I have already planned this out actually. There are several paces I would like to go. I have been to all kinds of wild and wonderful places, but I want to go somewhere that would really be different to me.
For me this would be South America. Peru, Brazil, Bolivia…take your pick. They would leave me well out of my comfort zone and have me needing to adapt to survive. And that is when I start really enjoying the adventure and the photos that I take.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
How it is in some way superior to digital of something. It isn’t, get over it. It is a different medium yielding different results. Stop arguing over which one is better and just shoot whatever you like.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
Hmm, People ask me this one a lot. I have seen stats for one of the larger film suppliers, and there is an undeniable upturn in the use of film over the last couple of years. I hope that we can build on this as people realize there are all sorts of different techniques for their creative desires. Film being one of them.
I think that we are going to see smaller makers, smaller batch films and interesting emulsions available. I am very much looking forward to shooting film in 2016.
…and we’re done. As I’ve said before, it takes more than a little bravery to share ones images and thoughts in such a public way, and I want to thank Bellamy again for doing so.
I honestly don’t have much more to say. Many others have written about Bellamy in the past, so for a change, I’ll let the man speak for himself and leave it at that.
What I will add is this: there’s an expectation that people who write about objects and events related to photography will themselves be avid photographers, chewing through rolls and sheets of film, or stacks of memory cards as if there was nothing else to do in the world.
This really isn’t always the case. Reading Bellamy’s thoughts on what and why he shoots, it’s much easier (and refreshing), to think of him as someone who like the rest of us, enjoys taking the odd holiday snap and capturing “stuff” around him that he finds interesting.
It’s certainly not what I was expecting from the man who was half-responsible for making me go out and buy a Ricoh GR1v a few years back (this is the other, equally culpable individual).
If you need a GAS attack, or just want to read some well-written and thoughtful opinions on cameras, lenses and a whole bunch of other photography-related stuff, make sure you check out Japan Camera Hunter and while you’re at it, follow Bellamy on Twitter, too.
You can also see some beautiful images on his Flickr. Just be careful, many of the shots there are NSFW: Not Safe For Wallets.
We’ll be back again very soon but in the meantime (as ever), keep shooting, folks.
Ps. Making sure that Bellamy’s image “Rabbit Hutch” is just off the bottom of your screen, scroll it up into view and it’ll look like it’s zooming in. Go give it a try.
EMULSIVE needs you. If you’d like to take part in this series of film photographer interviews, please drop us a line, or get in touch in the comments. We’re featuring to photographers young and old; famous and obscure, so get in touch and let’s talk.