My name is Tim Heubeck and I am photographer based in Germany. You may be familiar with my work under the name of wasteoffilm. All of my personal work is completely film based, and furthermore the film is hand processed by me. It has been the process of shooting, developing, and then putting the images to use that sparked my interest.
A few years ago I decided, that I needed to undergo a dramatic change, and therefore ever since completely focus on publishing my work in the form of books and zines. I don’t really publish any other personal work, than the images that go into the book. One of the reasons being, that I don’t consider social media, or the internet in general as a fitting place to display your work, and also is does not act as a motivation to do so.
Likes, comments, and followers do literally mean nothing to me, they don’t determine the quality of your work at all. Photography is so much more than likes and favorites,it’s about conveying emotion and capturing unique moments forever. Of course, the internet plays a huge part once the project is published, but it has never been the primary reason for producing the work in the first place. In the end, it’s just one way of spreading your message, not more.
Black and white is my only way of working nowadays, I don’t even remember the last time I shot a roll of color film. My imagery is aimed to be more reduced, and focussed on light, shadows, and textures than anything else. I document whatever I am interested in this very moment, and while shooting it may all seem quite random for some people, but in the end the body of work has to function altogether. There is no real category I work in, nevertheless one could say that it’s sometimes more in the direction of street photography. But I never wanted to be put, or put myself in a category. I’d rather say that I very much am an everything photographer.
For me personally, it is how I see the world, and this is ultimately what I aim to convey. No illusions. Just what I saw, which may be very different how many people look at the world. For me there has never been any other form of expression, that allowed me to do just that, other than photography.
Leading up to my latest project
Japan for me has always been the place I dreamed about. Inspired by Japanese photography, the culture, people, and food. It all feels like it comes together in a very unique, and at the same time perfect mixture. Japan is gritty and dark. Japan is timeless.
My latest project “memories from another world“ was shot in 2016, during my first ever visit to Japan, and includes work shot in a variety of cities. I had been looking forward to doing this for what seemed like an eternity, and had very big expectations arriving there. Luckily though, they were exceeded. It was everything I had ever imagined, and even more than I could ever dream of. It felt like the perfect place at the right time. The book is a document of the memories I associate with this place and time. It captures the essence of what I saw, and ultimately how Japan looks like for me.
Don’t we all long for a place where we feel like we have arrived? And shortly after arriving, I just knew it is here, right in front of me to discover. It was a very strange feeling of belonging.
It is my fourth self-published book and this remains to be, while it can be very challenging at times, the perfect way for me to work. There is nobody who has the power, to tell me how to design and layout the book, which photographs to include and how to arrange them. It’s all my decision, and the final books always are just exactly how I imagined them to be in the first place. Of course, I seek advice when it comes to selecting the photographs and designing the book, but in the end it is up to me. And this is the beauty of the whole process. It enables me to finish a certain chapter of my life, and essentially remains a permanent document of this period.
In a way, it is this circle of creating the idea for a project, planning, shooting the work, processing the film, dra ing the book, getting it into print, and then publishing the final project. Right now I couldn’t even imagine any other way to pursue these personal projects, because it all just simply makes sense and feels very pure.
Working in this way also enables you to grow in a very visible way. Once the book is printed there is literally nothing you can change. The design, sequencing, look, and so forth are preserved forever. It’s a great way to look back at your older projects, and analyze what and how you would do things differently now, and consequently continuously grow and improve the quality of your work.
With photography, especially in film photography, you want to preserve your images forever. So why let them only live as scans on a hard drive, negatives in our archives, or single prints? Surely, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that, and most images will end up there. Nevertheless, the pure challenge of putting together a body of work, that will create something, which has far more meaning compared to single images is very satisfying, and will enable you to grow as an artist.
You could even take it as far as to say, that I am not really interested in making single photographs anymore, but to tell a story through the complete body of work. Where the sum of the parts is much larger, and filled up with more meaning, than the individual images ever could have been. There is a vast amount of things you can do with a project, and a printed outcome. Thee moment you hold the final product in your hands, show it to people, and send the books out is making up for all of the countless hours spent and the struggles battled.
The resulting book – “memories from another world“
In July of 2017, I published my fourth book which displays 51 photographs on 86 pages, and was printed in a large format of DinA4 (11.7×8.3 in / 29.7x21cm). The choice for the big print size, was due to the way the photographs are coming to life, especially with the double spreads. I have previously already talked briefly about the book, in terms of what it means to me. And certainly, there would be so much more to express, and to talk about. But I have also always been a advocate of not saying everything, of guiding people in a certain direction, but leaving them with their own choices and thoughts.
With my books, I most of the time include short paragraphs of text, either at the beginning, throughout the book, or on the back cover. This essentially aims to, as I have previously talked about, “push“ the viewer in a certain direction, and let him or her discover new trains of thoughts. Nevertheless, there should always be room for the viewer’s own thought and interpretations, and it’s more about creating a mood or setting for the work to be viewed in.
This is the description of the project you will also find on my website:
“For me there has always been the search for the “ideal“ place. A place where everything suddenly starts to make sense. There has never really been a moment where I thought that I had found this place. At least until traveling to Japan. It all seemed so strangely familiar, even though I had never been there before. It felt as if already knew the place deep down in my mind.”
Memories from another world is my approach to capturing this intangible feeling of having found your “ideal“ place. Ultimately it is a document of the memories I associate with it. While the story is mainly told through imagery, it is also emphasized by short texts. e book is the third one from the series “a box beneath my bed“. A series about dreams, reality and the supernatural.
On Photography and the importance of art
I have recently had a heated discussion with a friend of mine, and fellow photographer about this topic, and what in our minds makes a great photograph, or more generally a solid body of work. While our opinions sometimes were diverse, we both found common ground on the fact that for us, meaningful photography never says it all, and leaves room for your own thoughts and interpretations. For you could discover something entirely different as the person next to you, and that it means something else for everyone. Because in the end, we are all individuals made up by all of our past experiences, the way we grew up, and the present thought we have. Everyone is unique in his own way, and that’s where for me the magic happens.
When someone with a completely different background may see things in a different light, that you never even knew existed. And for me that is essentially what makes art such an important medium. How it can just shed light on things, that would otherwise never be discovered, or would simply remain impossible to express.
I would like to express my gratitude to EMULSIVE for letting me write about something of my own choice in this very free kind of way, and hope you enjoyed reading something maybe a bit different. A after all of these years of photography, one of the most important part for me has become to talk about, and discuss what photography means to you, to study other photographers, and to go out and create the projects you always wanted to publish.
There certainly are so many things left to say, to discuss, and to write about. You can always check out my blog to read more similar posts, and certainly many more to follow in the next time.
You can see more of what I do, and have done by using the links in my bio further down the page, and of course, read my EMULSIVE interview here!
~ Tim Heubeck
Write for EMULSIVE
EMULSIVE is all about promoting knowledge transfer across the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas to inspire others reading these pages: check out the submission guide.
If you like what you're reading you can help this passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.