I am Hudson Jacobs and this is why I shoot film: EMULSIVE interview 100
In his own words today’s photographer is a fourteen year old colour blind, far sighted and close sighted photographer…who uses film.
With that out of the way, it’s not only time for the latest EMULSIVE interview but also time for number 100. That’s right, the big ONE-OH-OH. Please allow me a little lead-in before you scroll down to see what Mr. 100 has to say for himself.
There’s been a lot of back and forth about the subject of this little milestone. For a while it was going to be someone probably best described as a photographic household name but the timing of other goings-on meant that it wasn’t meant to be..and probably never will be.
Following that, I toyed with the idea of interviewing myself but as past interviewees will have already seen, it’s pretty boring fare and best kept locked away from public consumption.
Then, out of the blue I came across Hudson Jacobs–and was blown away. As mentioned up top, he’s a 14 (one four, not four zero) year old, colour blind, near and far sighted photographer.
To say that he has passion and drive is an understatement, as you’ll see below. So with that, it’s time to hand over to Hudson Jacobs!
Hi Hudson, what’s this picture, then?
HJ: This photograph is exposure number 12 of 36 on my first roll of black and white film.
I sent out of the state I lived in for development and scanning, and got it back a week later–all just to get it developed with a sepia tone.
I never regret that decision for a second. The photo is of a young boy volunteering in a magic act a street performer was doing in Adelaide, South Australia and the light sepia tone gives it such a nice, bright and happy feel to the photo.
I shot it on my favourite fully manual Pentax SLR and used Ilford XP2 Super film which turned out to be a 36 exposure roll. I say “turned out”, as I was still new to photography and had assumed it had 24 exposures, so wasted a few shots!
Ok so who are you? (the short version, please)
HJ: I’m a 14-year old photographer from Australia. I’ve recently started learning to sing and to play the guitar but my favourite art form of all is photography. I love going to op shops (charity shops/thrift stores), and markets to search for cameras, as well as trying a roll or two of film with the ones I can get to work. There’s always something different to find; light leaks, vignetting, out of focus shots and more but whether they work in the end is irrelevant. Trying something new is always worth it.
I’m still so young and I honestly don’t know where I’m going in the future, or whether or not music or photography will be my future. I do plan to study photography at my school when I start grade ten. It will probably mean I’ll have to use digital and to be honest I’m not very keen on that idea.
My eyesight creates one of the biggest challenges when making photographs. Sure, using film itself is one challenge but I can’t see things as close, or as far as a regular person can, and I’m colour blind to boot.
I’ve been prescribed a interesting pair of glasses; they’re red and are commonly mistaken for shades. The glasses help me see things that are a similar colour apart, as well as more shades of colours. I also have another (regular) pair of glasses to help me see things closer and further.
I can’t say for sure these glasses are EnChroma. [EMULSIVE: I asked] I tried finding a pair that looked like mine but all the tints for the lenses I found online didn’t look like mine. My eyesight gives me a lot of trouble with filters and adjusting white balance (on digital), and focusing manually. In fact before getting my my semi-electronic Pentax with its auto focus feature, most of my early film photography was always out of focus–not enough to ruin the photo but enough for it to be noticed by others.
Not being able to see as far or close as others I’m also not able to easily adjust view finders because my glasses aren’t just 1+ and so on.
But challenges must be met, so I work with what I have and get creative.
When did you start shooting film and what about now what drives you to keep shooting?
HJ: A year ago. One of the (working) cameras I had collected was an automatic 35mm point and shoot. I was curious what it was like to use film, so I walked into a Kodak Express and sampled a roll for the first time. Only 4 months later my digital camera stopped working, leaving me with either my film cameras or my mum’s older digital camera (not in the best condition), as my only photographic outlet.
My first camera actually failed to roll the film back into the canister and my first two rolls of film were exposed to ruin. But when I started using my fully manual Pentax SLR, I finally successfully shot my first roll. The photo was taken on Kodak Max 400 in Glenelg, Adelaide of a street performer that did incredible tricks with bubbles.
The good/bad news with all this film experimentation was I that was getting bored of digital.
With digital I was able to take photo after photo and then just use Photoshop to turn it into a masterpiece. I was losing my passion for photography because it wasn’t as challenging after I got past the initial learning curve. Instead of getting frustrated with the idea of having to use film or a cheap DSLR, I saw film as a opportunity to challenge myself and try something new.
Now, a year later, I only shoot film on either my electronic Pentax SLR, my fully manual Pentax SLR or my Ikon Zeiss 120 folding camera.
A lot of people ask why I still shoot film and don’t just use the money I spend on it to save up for a new digital camera. Well, there are still so many types of film I haven’t tried–like the purple film from Lomography to name one–and its just so exciting to wait an hour for my photos and then learning which ones failed and why.
I used to constantly fail to correctly load the film on my Pentax SLR and I’ve slowly learned from my mistakes and to be honest, that’s what I want out of photography: a challenge and a way to make something to make people smile. I’ll admit that digital has improved and is a lot more convenient than film but its just not the same, no matter what filters you add.
A Lytro camera can literally focus a image no matter how out of focus it was to begin with. It’s really cool but as I’ve said, it’s not as much of a challenge. In fact, considering that you don’t even need to focus the camera it’s no challenge at all.
Any favorite subject matter?
HJ: Since my photography is primarily street photography I can’t really say I have a favourite location. There’s such a large world out there and I haven’t even explored even a small fraction of it; or seen the amazing people around the globe, so I could never have a favourite place to go.
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 to master in the next 12 months?
HJ: In the next few months I’m going to be doing more medium format photography and I plan to try 120 infrared film. The view finder in my camera is missing its glass, so I have to guess the distance to focus and I’m so used to being able to see through a action view finder or waist level view finder that it’s going to be a interesting challenge for me.
You never use film again, what’s your last roll and why?
HJ: If I had one last roll of film I would love to go somewhere where there’s plenty of snow. It rarely snows where I live in Australia and even when it does, it’s only at the top of very high mountains.
If I had one last roll of film I would want it to be a roll of Rollei black and white infrared film. I would dream of using it to take landscape photos of snowy mountains like the ones in New Zealand or Canada. I would probably use my first working film camera, the fully manual Pentax SLR so that I finished how I started.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera one lens 2 films and no idea of the subject matter, what do you take and why?
HJ: I would take my electronic Pentax SLR with a single 35mm-85mm lens and two rolls of Kodak Max 400.
Since the Pentax SLR has auto focus and automatic settings I could use it in scenarios like sports photography where I wouldn’t have to time to change each of the settings. I’d select the Kodak Max film so I could get my photographs in colour or black and white; and because ISO 400 is a film speed that can be used in plenty of different scenarios.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. where do you go?
HJ: If I had a unlimited supply of film I would choose Kodak Ektar 100, load it in my fully manual Pentax SLR and go to Dark Peak in England. With the all beautiful landscape opportunities and amazing places nearby…I would love to go on a long trip there.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography, and how would you set them straight ?
HJ: A lot of people still think film hasn’t changed since the old days and that all film is sepia or black and white and/or makes everything look old fashioned. In reality, films like Kodak’s Portra and Ektar produce better results then most digital cameras (in my opinion).
If you showed someone a photo shot on Portra they probably couldn’t tell if it was shot on digital or film.
In your opinion, what is the future of film photography?
HJ: A lot of people assume film will probably die out in the next decade or so but honestly I can’t see that happening.
There will always be people who are passionate about film and with photography influencers like Digital Rev using film, there’s not much of a chance of film going completely out the window, with more photographers trying and using film.
~ Hudson Jacobs
I know it’s not a race but it’s a great feeling to be up to the 100 interview mark. These interviews started as an idea to profile as many film photographers as possible; providing a soap box (for want of a better term), where they could talk about their experiences and thoughts without fear of retribution or the terrible things you may see in other corners of the internet.
Once again, I’m not going all fluffy and advocating “safe spaces”, I actually like to think that everyone reading these pages is just a little bit better than having to resort to beating down on others to make themselves feel better – you’re all lovely people (at least those of you I’ve conversed with are 😉 )
On to Hudson; as I’ve said many times before, I find stories about young and upcoming photographers getting into film inspiring. For me, they carry a sense of hope that perhaps we won’t ever be without film as we know it today. If wet plate collodion and other so-called alternative processes haven’t managed to be snuffed out in the 150+ years since their creation, then I’m pretty confident that 35mm, 120, sheet (and other format) film stocks will still be available well past it’s my turn to visit the darkroom in the sky.
Hudson is a great example of the kind of your photographer we should all try to encourage, support, mentor and develop opportunities for. The fact that he has issues with his sight is simply another reason to appreciate his work and perhaps like me, it’ll give you pause for thought before complaining about “awful light”.
Thank you, Hudson.
What’s next for the interviews here on EMULSIVE? Well, you’ll be seeing a slight change in format over the coming weeks (marketing types might call it an “evolution”). I’ll also be formally switching to a weekly format for the foreseeable future. Don’t let that get you down though, as you may well be seeing some familiar faces from the past 100 interviewees raising their heads to give us all a little update on how the past year has been treating them.
More on that to come but in the meantime (and for the 100th time), keep shooting, folks!