I am Rhianne Hart and this is why I shoot film
Anyone who’s been paying attention to the heart of the film photography community over on Twitter should have heard of today’s interviewee by now. Shame on you if you haven’t.
Hailing from the UK, Rhianne Hart is a long time blogger and photographer, and many of her photographs have what I’d describe a “smallish” quality to them. Don’t understand what I mean? Read on to see for yourself.
Over to you, Rhianne!
Hi Rhianne, whats this picture then?
This was such a hard start to the interview! I decided to pick a photo I love and one that I think represents the sort of photos I like to take. This is a shop window in Whitby in the UK – I love all the different tones of colour in it but also how busy it is – how your eyes are drawn around the details and across the image.
I tend to either take sweeping shots to capture a full scene or a detail photo of something that’s caught my eye. This photo is a happy place in between, with all the details but also a grand scene you can read.
Ok, so who are you?
Where to start? Right now I’m so many things, a digital 3D designer, a trainee lighting designer, a knitter/crocheter, a sporadic blogger, a dog lover, a highly sensitive person, a wife and of course, a film photographer. But I guess, without all these labels, I am a very excitable person, who forgets that she’s getting older, enjoys way too many animated films and tries to focus on the positive. Most importantly though, I am someone who loves, it drives everything I do.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
I’ve always used film – growing up in the 90’s my parents had a small Canon point and shoot which I took to Paris and Belgium in high school. Admittedly I drifted away a bit when digital became more popular but I never really took to it, I’ve only ever had one digital camera and I dropped that after a couple of months and never replaced it. In 2009 I discovered toy cameras which changed everything.
I keep shooting because I love it. I can’t imagine a day going by where I don’t want to take photos or have my camera with me. I love the process, everything is so tactile and involved, from loading the roll, to focusing the shutter.
I’m always looking around for photos – even though I’m never exactly sure what I’m looking for – and that search to find ‘it’ and know that I can capture ‘it‘ is what fuels the love and keeps my photos coming. I’ve always been creative and my photography is something that’s a creative outlet just for me – even if I do share it with the world online.
Who or what influenced your photographer when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
I bought my Holga 135BC when I saw a little known blogger (who now has one of the biggest lifestyle blogs around, madness) using a 120 Holga. I’d never seen double exposures, or such deliberate imperfections in photos before and I realised that rather than the perfectness of digital that was so dominant at the time, I wanted to express myself in that way – in a way I thought was more authentic and realistic.
I wouldn’t say I was influenced by other photographers but more by all art, and how others express themselves… paintings are as much about the painter as about the subject matter and I feel photography is the same.
Each photo I take is an expression of myself that day, perhaps not obviously but you can look at one of my photos and wonder ‘how did I feel that day? What is it about this subject matter than caught my eye? What am I trying to capture and share?’.
Today I’m hugely inspired by the huge film community on social media – Flickr, Instagram, Twitter – so many people have amazing photos to share and I love seeing the different formats, styles, films, cameras etc. If I had to pick a photographer influence then it would be William Eggleston – I really love his approach to photography with taking just one photo and photographing the ‘ugly’ things – I try to keep my eyes open to everything around me rather than just looking for the pretty.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
I would definitely classify myself as a film photographer. I tend to only use my phone for sending photos to my friends and family and for playing around with silly filters on Snapchat – and that’s the extent of my digital camera experience at the moment. I’m not adverse to the idea of getting a digital camera one day but I think when I do get one I’ll be quite picky about the one I get.
Whats your next challenge… your next step? How do you see yourself improving your technique? What aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?
Well right now I’m at the tail end of a 366 project for this year (2016) so I’m determined to finish that and make a book from all the photos. I’ve also been toying with the idea of a more involved photo essay a day idea for 2017 – I made a few for a recent competition and I realised that the reason I love blogging is because I have the opportunity to combine photos together and tell a specific story from them. So the idea of creating a photo essay story a day (even if it is a dull one) really captures my interest. Though I have no idea how long it would take to execute with all the scanning of photos, ha!
To improve I’m just going to keep taking photos. Practice makes perfect right.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
When I first started, I loved taking photos of buildings – I think because I had just finished my design degree of a similar nature and that was what I looked at then. But now I tend to be drawn to flowers more than anything, I had to try and not take a photo of flowers every day for my 366 project haha.
I’ve also noticed that I like finding details and taking photos of textures now as well, I think this is because I’m using a camera with a lens you can focus – whilst originally, taking photos of buildings and landscapes was safe and easy with a toy camera.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an unknown assignment, you can take one camera, one lens, two films and you have no idea what you’ll be shooting. What do you take with you and why?
I would take one black and white film and one colour – both C41 at 400 just because I find that works no matter what the situation – even though I predominantly use colour film I also love having the flexibility of black and white even if it’s a dull day. I’ve recently used Hawkeye Super Color 400 film which I really liked the results of when scanning and if I could have my ideal B&W it would be the Kodak BW400CN film which has been discontinued.
I would take my Canon 750 camera as I used it for my 365 project so I think we know each other fairly well now and it’s proven itself to be great in all situations. I’m not very adventurous anymore if I’m honest – I used to love experimenting with different cameras, films, techniques, double exposures etc but now I’m quite happy to use one camera and reliable films.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location for the rest of your life. What do you take, where do you go and why?
My automatic response when reading other people’s answers to this questions was always ‘Italy, has to be’. But I’ve been thinking about this question a lot and I actually think I’d stay in the UK.
There are so many wonderful places I still haven’t visited – either in Yorkshire close by – or in the far reaches – the Scottish highlands, all of Ireland, the south coast of England… theres so much I haven’t seen in my own home and I want to photograph it all.
You can never used film again. Whats your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
I’d like to take photos of the people I love I think. I’ve always wanted to take photos of my family and friends but I’ve rarely done it – this would be the last chance I’d have. And I think the last roll would be Kodak BW400CN, because I will always love it and be sad I can’t use it forever.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
I think the biggest misconception I had with film is that it didn’t need any editing after you’ve taken the photo and got it developed. When I first started it was a huge deal to me that I was using film and I never tweaked the results I would get from the lab out of the ‘principle’ of using film.
Obviously I was oblivious to the fact that the scanners used at the lab would auto tweak all my photos. But now that I’m scanning my own films, I’ve realised the editing process is complex and just the same as digital – its what you want it to be and how far you want to take it. Also it can be really tedious. Part of me misses just picking up my photos and not having to worry about scanning, colour tweaking etc. But mostly, I much prefer spending that extra time with my photos, it’s become a new process for me.
I don’t know if it’s something that needs setting straight as such – how you develop and scan your photos is totally up to you – but I think its important to realise and emphasise that having that digital element to the process doesn’t detract from a film photography process– it’s just another tool to create the result you want to share.
In your opinion whats the future of film photography?
I want it to stay around forever. I want to keep watching films shot on film, I want to keep using film.
But realistically… I don’t know. I think that instant photography is definitely going to stay for a good while – especially with the popularity of instax films and the iconic significance of polaroids in pop culture.
I guess for other films the best case scenario is that film is produced by dedicated companies that love film and realise the potential market, creativity and dedication of its users – Ilford I can imagine being around forever – but colour film – is a mystery for the future which is a real shame as I love how film captures colours.
My future with film is definitely that I will use it for as long as I can and hopefully the future of film will be one that I can use it for a very long time. Fingers crossed.
~ Rhianne Hart
As I wrote up top, to my eye at least, Rhianne’s photographs have a lovely “smallish” quality to them. Not in terms of scope or subject, and I definitely don’t mean that in a derisory way. When I say “smallish” I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s nearly always a small detail, some tiny aspect or a little touch captured that scratches at me to go back and take another look.
I’m not 100% sure it’s intentional and I like to think it’s mostly her personality subconsciously seeping through.
It got me thinking about the concept of photographic styles and how many of us seem to be trying to discover, settle on, reinvent or further develop one of our own. Are you someone who has a particular style, either naturally existing or intentionally developed? What made you decide to take the approach you do today and what would it take for you to change your approach?
On a personal level, these are questions I’ll be wrestling with in 2017. I think I might already have the answers I’m looking for but more research won’t hurt, especially if that means burning more film 🙂
Sadly that’s it for this week but we’ll be back next Wednesday (promise), with another film photographer for you to get your teeth stuck into. In the meantime, keep shooting, folks!
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