I am Nick Prideaux and this is why I shoot film
Today we’re talking to Australian Nick Prideaux, freshly transplanted to Bangkok after an extended stint in Tokyo for the past five years. I guess you could call Nick a purist for the most part. Mostly one camera and mostly one film stock.
Over to you, Nick.
Hi Nick, what’s this picture, then?
NP: This is a picture I took recently of my girlfriend on my rooftop in Tokyo. This was taken on one of those first evenings of early spring, where you can feel the onset of the seasons changing.
My rooftop in Tokyo was one of my favorite things about my apartment, I spent a lot of time up there and I’ve got rolls and rolls of film taken of sunsets and friends and the drinks we had, so this photo has a somewhat personal romantic nostalgia attached to it.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
NP: My name is Nick Prideaux and I am an Australian photographer now based in Bangkok, I am originally from a small seaside town called Byron Bay. In the past few years I’ve spent time in Melbourne, Beijing and Tokyo working and shooting.
I have spent the last 5 years in Japan which had a profound effect on me and my photography – it offered me a wonderful palette to play with that inspired me greatly.
Photography has always resonated with me, and it’s been an outlet for my creativity, whereas writing and film making often left me frustrated with the timely process.
I like the simplicity of using film and a compact camera.
When did you start shooting film?
NP: I studied film photography in high school from about the age of 13 and used my father’s old Nikon SLR as my first camera. I shot film on and off since, and then made the switch completely about 2 years ago after I picked up an old Konica C35 at a junk shop in Tokyo – I fell in love with film all over again.
Living in Tokyo really encouraged me to shoot, you only have to walk the streets to see how many people have film cameras with them.
There is a really wonderful community of photographers there, and still lot’s of places to buy and develop film.
Why did you start shooting film and what about now? What drives you to keep shooting?
NP: I love shooting film for it’s warmth – there is something so wonderfully charming and romantic about it. I do have a digital camera that I use from time to time, but I always come back to shooting on film as I’m always happier with the results.
When I was shooting digital full time, I would spend so much time looking at new camera reviews online and time editing and playing with settings on the camera – I decided to shoot film because for me it’s the polar opposite to that.
Just the camera and the film.
I’ve also become obsessed with compact film cameras, so I’ve started collecting them bit by bit. Most of my free time is spent either shooting or going to camera shops looking to buy.
As for what drives me – I’m almost never completely satisfied with what I shoot, so each roll of film is an opportunity to learn and to improve. I think so much of film photography is about making mistakes, it’s always a learning process.
What’s the next challenge…your next step? How do you see improving your technique, or what aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12months?
NP: My photography has always been as a kind of document of my life, really just capturing what I see in my day to day life. The next challenge is to have a set project.
Having recently moved to Bangkok, I have an entirely clean slate to work with which is wonderfully exciting. I”m also hoping to have an exhibition here and to also have the last 5 years of my life in Tokyo printed into a photobook.
In the next 12 months, I would love to focus more on street photography.
I’m still so fearful of shooting people in the street in a completely natural situation, so I would love to overcome this and to shoot in a completely ‘of the moment’ situation.
Any favorite subject matter?
NP: I love shooting plants. I really can’t explain how it came about, but I’m always attracted to flowers or greenery as a subject to shoot.
I’m drawn to particular colors, more often greens or blues – and I love taking photos of my girlfriend.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
NP: A roll of Kodak Portra 400 used with my Olympus MJU II. I’ve always loved the tones of Portra, and everything seems to be really dreamy and rich. I’ve shot about 90% of all my photography with this film.
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?
NP: A Contax T2 and some Kodak Portra 400; this is my daily setup.
I’ve been using this camera for about 1.5 years and I’m always amazed about how good it is. I’ve never been disappointed in what it does.
I went to Turkey last year for 2 weeks and shot everything with it, it’s a really fetching little camera which always delivers. I love the fact that it feels so sturdy in your hand, the weight and design is perfect.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
NP: First of all, this would be a dream in itself to have an endless supply of film – gosh I would be so happy!
About 3 years ago my girlfriend lived in New York and I spent a summer there with her – I would absolutely adore to go back and shoot in the streets. I really think there is an energy there like no other, it’s infectious – and If I could spend a few weeks just strolling around and taking photos I would be in heaven.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
NP: I think there is so much emphasis on having a ‘good’ or ‘expensive’ camera to take photo’s with, but really the best camera is the one you have with you.
Keep it simple and don’t worry about what everyone else is shooting with. It seems to be the most common question asked is ‘What’s the best camera?’
I really think it’s a subjective thing – I think one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken was with a Fuji disposable camera.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
NP: Film has a story to it – and the film community is burgeoning. I think in the future it will continue to flourish.
I love going on Instagram and seeing how many people now have ‘film only’ in their profile. I really love the community around film photography, and it’s getting stronger and stronger – it really is going through a renaissance, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.
~ Nick Prideaux
There’s something about Nick’s work that really pulls me in. It’s part documentary, part street and part voyeuristic – in the good way, not the weird andvcreepy way. There’s a real character to it and you should really check out his website, Instagram and Twitter accounts when you have the chance.
He makes a very good point in the “misconception” section above, where he says: “Keep it simple and don’t worry about what everyone else is shooting with.”
I try to keep to this approach as much as possible but it can be tough. New cameras and lenses are always a constant temptation but I personally find myself more tempted by what I come across in my reading, than what I see hanging off someone else’s shoulder.
It can be easy to develop a belief that the next lens, or the next camera, or the next (new) roll of film will be the one to help you focus, or perhaps give you some kind of edge. It won’t.
It’s easy to say and hard to do in reality – this coming from someone with historically bad GAS.
Thanks again to Nick for stepping up and giving us a peek at his work and insight into his process. It’s very appreciated.
We’ll be back soon with interview 84 (time flies!) but in the meantime, keep shooting, folks!
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