I really am struggling to introduce today’s interviewee, someone whom I was introduced to earlier this year by Ellen Rogers. In between asking Lucy for an interview back in April and today, I’ve come to know and appreciate her photography (both what you see here and the flip side of her photographic coin).

I’m struggling because I’m trying to find the right words and in cases like this, I’ve learned to realised that they will probably not come in time and that I should just get out of the way.

Warning: many of the photographs on this page are not safe for work, so you should proceed with that in mind.

Over to you, Lucy.


Hi Lucy, what’s this picture, then?

LR: This is me, laying on a cliff in a little village in Iceland in November 2015. I was doing an artist residency out there and I had no models, so I started doing self portraiture, which I had never really done before. I was pretty far outside of my comfort zone, both photographically and in temperature…


Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)

LR: I’m Lucy, a photographer currently based in a little countryside studio on the outskirts of Bristol, UK. I work mainly with analogue film within my art practise (although not exclusively) and I also run a commercial product photography business. I love the sea, comedy, open water swimming, and I play a bit of folk music when I’m not working. Crisps are my biggest downfall.


When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting today?

LR: I started shooting film at college, digital was pretty new on the scene back then so film was the thing being taught to young photographers. I enjoyed it from the start, but it only became the main focus of my life a few years after. It was a creeping up thing really, every year I became more and more interested in it.

And when I discovered digital, I tried it for a bit, but I could never improve on my images with a digital camera, so I stopped trying in the end. I guess it’s to do with the aesthetic I love, the grain, the nostalgia that the colours of film seem to offer, the slight-softness of the look, the simplicity of it.

The way that the colours and tones from film look absolutely perfect straight out of the box. I’m in love with that. I find it so simple to create that dreamy, surreal, grainy, gorgeous aesthetic that I love. And to this day I have never been able to match that look with a digital camera. And even if I could, I’m a sucker for something being ‘real’, so I wouldn’t find the same satisfaction in creating a film effect in post production.

I also love working with chance, and unexpected results. Some of which you can only get with film because you literally don’t know what has just been exposed. For instance I love what happens when you take double exposures. You can’t get that sort of chance exposure with anything other than film. I find the process too considered if I approach it any other way.

As an extra bonus, I like being connected to the roots of photography. I love that the way we shoot is the way that people shot a hundred odd years ago.


Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?

LR: Visually I’ve always been really influenced by anything surrealism based. Anything slightly weird or out of the ordinary, anything that’s unexpected to our eyes and that removes us from everyday life. My first love and probably my biggest inspiration was the surrealist painter, Rene Magritte. I found his paintings were so strange, but not in a complex dali-esque way, in quite a simple way. They drew me in and catapulted me into another world. I went through an intense period of discovering loads of new work when I was studying on an MA, and that period of my life really helped me to define my interests and the work I wanted to make. It was a real turning point creatively.

I discovered photographers from the surrealist movement, Man Ray, Phillip Halsman, Lee Miller, and also many photographers who had characteristics of surrealism, like Rodney Smith, Francesca Woodman, Gjon Mili, Robert and Shana Parkeharrison, and when I saw all this work I just thought ‘yes, this is what I want to make!’ I guess I hadn’t known what you could do with photography until I saw what those guys were doing with it.

When I realised what you could create with photography, that you could manipulate the camera, and be quite malleable with what you were doing, break all the rules as it were, I got so excited. And from then on it’s always been about pushing myself, doing more with the camera, and wanting to make work that made me feel the way I felt when I looked at those artists.

I found an old book in a charity shop once called ‘All the photo tricks’ by Edwin Smith, and I read it all the time to this day, it’s full of little tricks to make photography less ‘straight. My love for double exposures came from learning about them in this book.


Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?

LR: Yes I’m definitely a mixed medium photographer, for instance I use digital a lot for my commercial practice, mainly because clients need and want to be updated and there’s no real need to shoot on film for the commercial work as it’s less creative than my art practise and more about delivering an accurate representation of the products I am being given to shoot. When it comes to personal projects, anything I am shooting for me and me only, I mostly always use my film cameras.

Although, I do also work with various other alternative processes that require you to make large digital negatives, like cyanotype or, more recently photopolymer gravure – sometimes I’ll use my digital camera to create the negatives for these processes.

I also digitally scan the negatives, and sometimes a project will end with a digital print of the analogue photograph rather than a traditional darkroom print. I tend to take each project as it comes, and see what feels right for it in the moment. I’m pretty free and easy really and I don’t give myself any strict rules about the mediums I use. I just know that I love analogue photography and certainly in the shooting process, I feel my most free and creative when working with film. But for the other elements of creating the work I definitely use and love plenty of modern developments, like scanning and printing. I think it’s nice to keep older traditions alive whilst also respecting that things move on and change, and that’s okay too.

My primary love for film is in the shooting stage of it, of using actual film to record the images. It slows me down in the shoot, and I find magic in not being able to see what I’ve just photographed. It keeps me in the creative mode, keeps me in the moment.


What’s 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?

LR: My next challenge is learning to create my own inks from natural and found things, and then using those to hand colour prints. I’d like to do a residency where I hand paint photographs with inks made from the surrounding land. I would also like to produce a series of photopolymer gravure prints, which is a technique I was studying as part of an arts council funded project but it had to be put on hold as all of the printmaking studios closed down last year and aren’t quite open again yet. I would also like to try Platinum Printing, I think that will be pretty soon on my list. I would also like to improve my darkroom printing skills, as for me the darkroom is more of a playground where I experiment, but I’d like to start printing a bit more for exhibitions.

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Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?

LR: The body has been a constant in my practice for as long as I can remember. It started with an interest in portraiture, and then led to an interest in the body. The body for me represents a wider perspective, I see it as my connection to life.

The body is almost like my blank canvas. As in – I always know that I’m starting with that – and then after that it’s about what to do with it, what to explore next. To me an image feels empty without a body. Only in my work, I love other people’s work and it doesn’t necessarily have to have a body in it. But for me it’s the really important bit, the bit that breathes life into my images. There are other things that appear a lot too, like the night sky, boats and ships, water, muted colour palettes… landscapes…


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?

LR: I would take two rolls of Kodak Portra 400, my Canon Eos 1N, and a 50mm 1.4. Pretty sure I could capture most things with that set up! Portra 400 is so beautiful, and a really versatile film, the latitude is amazing, you can massively over or under expose it and it will still come out. It’s pretty magical. My Eos 1N is my most used camera, so I’m really comfortable with it. And a 50mm should do for most things right?


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?

LR: Ooh, I’d choose Kodak Portra 400 again, and I think I’d pick Iceland.

I spent a month in Iceland on a residency in 2015 and it really is a magical place to be. I shot about 4 different projects in the one month I was there. There’s just something about that landscape…


You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?

LR: Oh god. Well, I am horribly indecisive and also pretty fearful of regret, so I can tell you for sure that that last roll of film would sit on my shelf forever. I have two packs of Fujifilm FP100c (film for Polaroid Land Camera) sitting on my shelf because they don’t make it anymore and I’m terrified I’ll shoot it and then think of a better idea for it afterwards!!


What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?

LR: I think people have no experience with it think it’s more complex than it is. And don’t realise that the theory behind the cameras are mostly the same. The only scary bit if you’re used to shooting digital is that you can’t see what you have just shot, but the mechanics of using the camera are exactly the same. As long as you can shoot manual mode on a digital, you’ll be fine with a film camera! The cameras are actually a lot simpler too. Less options and buttons.

I think there is also a bit of a misconception that analogue shooters don’t like digital cameras. I love digital cameras, I use them for my commercial work and I use them every day on my mobile. They are great too!


In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?

LR: I feel like the future of film photography will be along the lines of what film photography has been for the past 20 years and what it is now. Something that people use out of choice, to experiment, because of a love for it, to be connected to the roots of photography. It will never be used out of necessity again, digital has that covered. But creatively, out of choice and a love for the medium, I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon.


Finally, what advice would you give to someone just getting started, or thinking about jumping into film photography?

LR: I would just say pick up a really simple 35mm SLR camera (minoltas are a good shout and cost about £20 on ebay) and take some beginners photography lessons to learn about the basics, and just get cracking! And try out shooting some double exposures, there’s fun to be had!

~ Lucy


Lucy’s distorted, double (triple?) exposed, muddy, watery, out of focus, texturific, painted-over, and otherwise manipulated photography have been a revelation.

My favourites from those shown here include those from the Are you a mixed medium photographer?”, “What’s your next challenge…?” and the final question, but to be completely honest, even these 5 were a tough choice to make.

If you know me, you’ll know I have a complicated relationship with nude/art photography as — cards on the table — I’m not what one might call an “art” person. Sure, I appreciate what I see, and the effort taken to conceive and then realise a vision. Sometimes I even surprise myself by being able to glimpse a peek into the mental process that put it all together. That said, for the most part, I am blind to deeper and hidden meanings and truthfully, part of me feels I let myself down.

What I can say about the second and third frames under Are you a mixed medium photographer?” specifically is that that they resonate with me because I see something reflected back from myself in them. The why/how is not for this article, or perhaps anywhere else — the important aspect (and again, this is just for me), is that they say something to me beyond the obvious visual imagery.

Suddenly, and for the first time in a while, I find myself feeling less dumb.

Please, please, please check out Lucy’s website, Instagram and Twitter. Give her a shout, find out about her other photographic work and join me in seeing what she comes up with next. I can’t wait.

I’m slowly picking this series up again after a brief hiatus, and if there’s anyone you’d like to see featured on these pages, please let me know via DM, email, or in the comments below.

Take care,

~ EM

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I'm EM, founder, overlord, and editor-in-chief at EMULSIVE.org. I may be a benevolent gestalt entity but contrary to increasingly popular belief, I am not an AI.

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