I am Sam Smith and this is why I shoot film
Welcome to EMULSIVE interview 102! Today we’re grabbing some time with new film shooter Sam Smith from Nottingham in the UK.
Sam’s a bit of a medium format landscape junkie, as you’ll see below.
Over to you, Sam!
Hi Sam, what’s this picture, then?
This is the last picture I took on a trip to the Peak District three days after I bought my Hasselblad. I got up at 3:40 in the morning so I could get on the first train and get there at 7:00am, just after sunrise. It had snowed quite a lot the night before and I didn’t really have any idea where to go but I wondered round and take a few shots.
In the afternoon I decided to walk to the next town over, which turned out to be massively overambitious but I made it to the pub as it got dark. This shot was the very last shot I took that day and on that walk.
I must’ve done something wrong in the development from the first roll that day because they all came out weird but I took 3 shots on a second roll which worked out fine, but the first 2 aren’t very good photos so after all that this was the only good photo I got that day. If anybody’s interested it was taken on Ilford HP5+ and developed by myself with Kodak HC-110 (1+49, 8 mins).
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
SS: I’m Sam, I’m 19 and I’m currently studying Physics at the University of Nottingham in the UK..
When did you start shooting film and what about now? What drives you to keep shooting?
SS: About a year ago, when I found a Bronica ETRS at the Oxfam (a charity shop) that I was volunteering at. I went out to Birmingham city centre with my dad and shot my first roll soon after and really enjoyed it. I started self developing after my first roll because there was also a lot of development equipment available at the Oxfam.
I keep shooting film because I enjoy it, and that’s it really. I like using the cameras, I like developing my pictures and more recently I’ve been enjoying printing them in the university darkroom.
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 12 months?
SS: I mostly just want to take more photos, which for me means going to interesting places. Other than that I’d really like to get more consistent results from my black and white photos. It seems every roll for me has some issue in it.
Any favourite subject matter?
SS: I like shooting landscapes, so trees, rocks and rivers I guess.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
SS: I’d probably never be able to decide, so my last would be the last one I shot, which was a roll of Kodak T-MAX 400 from one of the bad batches which I shot in the Peak District in June.
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?
SS: My Hasselblad 500C/M, Zeiss Distagon 60mm/3.5 and two rolls of Iford HP5+. It’s my best camera and lens, and the film I’m most familiar with.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
SS: Iceland. I went there on a school trip a few years ago, before I started shooting film, and really enjoyed it.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
SS: That it’s expensive and not worth pursuing anymore, but I’m not bothered about correcting it because I’m happy to let people continue to shoot digital if they want.
~ Sam Smith
Over the years I’ve become a lover of landscape photography, especially what I’d call “big landscapes”. You know the ones I’m talking about: wide, sprawling vistas that provide a feast for the eyes time and time again. I’m still also stuck on photographs of the world in slightly closer quarters – urban landscape and detail, if you will. Sam delivers on both counts.
He’s only been shooting his film camera for a little over a year now and he’s really gotten to grips with both. Swaledale above especially sticks out as an amazing piece of work. Really mind blowing.
Once again, it’s encouraging to see young, new film photographers enter the fray, especially those with an open mindset toward digital photography like Sam. I hope it’s a sign of things to come.
You can see more of Sam’s fantastic work over on his Flickr Stream. Please do go and check it out.
We’ll be back again with another film photographer very soon. In the meantime, keep shooting folks!
Contribute to EMULSIVE
EMULSIVE NEEDS YOU. The driving force behind EMULSIVE is knowledge transfer, specifically engendering more of it in the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas.
Help drive an open, collaborative community - all you need do is drop us a line and we'll work something out.