Today’s interviewee is a real treat, I’m honoured to me able to introduce you to David Rothschild, a native Virginian photographer an musician with a interesting adoration of naked trees and old houses.
Over to you, David.
Hi David, what is this picture then?
DR: It’s a polaroid I shot with my Land camera using the now discontinued Fuji FP-3000 pack film. It was one of the images that got me back hooked on film. All the imperfections, blend so organically with the tree-scape and it’s the object that I held in my hand which reminded me of the more permanent nature of film.
Ok so who are you(the short version please)
DR: I am a Virginia, USA native who has a deep passion to live a creative life mostly through music and photography.
When did you start shooting film and what about now, what drives you to keep shooting?
DR: I started when I was in high school in the 90’s because that’s all we had! But back then never really considered the looks and creative potentials of film. I shot digital for like 15 years after college than recently returned to film in 2013 when I started shooting a Holga and Polaroid.
Now I am obsessed with it and the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know.
Mostly the learning that occurs when you practice “seeing”. It’s very transformative. I feel the same way when writing music. The “openness” of the potential results is awe inspiring.
Any favorite subject matter?
DR: For me it’s probably a tie between naked trees and old houses. Both almost have a “soul” and seem to evoke spirits in a way that is hard to explain. Especially when combined in the same location. Although I must say my dream is to photograph tornadoes. (Don’t tell my Mother.)
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?
DR: To complete the journey and learn to process film and print at home myself. The creative possibilities seem to blossom from there. I have dabbled with printing with friends but always with the help of someone else. I hope to have things going by 2017.
I hope I don’t master anything. Seriously. I like keeping things fresh as much as possible and try to feel like I am doing something for the first time again. I honestly feel like a total beginner when faced with a shot sometimes as if I don’t know what I am doing. However, I would like to learn large format photography after experimenting with medium format (Holga).
You can never use film again, what’s your last roll?
DR: Kodak Ektar 100. I really love pushing that film 2 stops, especially in low light.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What do you take with you and why?
DR: My Nikon F4, an auto focus 50mm f/1.8 and 2 rolls of Ektar 100 (guess it depends on the assignment). My nikon F4 is just built like a tank, has auto focus for quick shots when needed and the motor drive makes loading and unloading quicker. If I had more time I would definitely prefer using my Nikon F3 though.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location, where do you go?
DR: I would go to the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia. For me this place is special and I could spend a lifetime photographing there and still not even scratch the surface of what I could document and create.
What do you think is people’s greatest mis-conception about film photography. And how would you like to correct it?
DR: Good question. It’s hard for me to say cause most of my friends are not photographers (strange I know), but I would say that it’s that film is too much trouble and too hard.
Sometimes I think as photographers we are very intellectual about our tools and we can get really deep but in the end most people can’t really see a difference between the two unless they have had a lot of experience with both.
In your opinion what’s the future of film photography?
DR: I see really exciting things in the future. A whole new generation of hobbyists and enthusiasts are approaching film with a new found curiosity.
~ Dave Rothschild
“I hope I don’t master anything. Seriously.”
I love that quote. It reminds me of a brief exchange I had on Twitter earlier this week with Sandeep Sumal after hearing he was trying Kodak’s Double-X (EASTMAN 5222) for the first time. We’d been talking about Kodak 250D motion picture film and the conversation made me think back to when I first shot both film stocks.
Those first rolls, whilst not my best, are still amongst my favorites. In fact, I have a similar feeling towards many of my “first rolls”. Perhaps it’s because they represent beginnings, the start of something new, the first steps of a wonderful journey; and for all the stinkers, mediocre shots and poorly thought out experiments, it’s the memory of taking those first steps that sticks with me.
There’s a lot to be said about mastering a film, a camera, a lens, even all three but for me, the feeling of surprise and elation (or despair) at seeing the first results from any such experiment is enough for me to wonder if mastery is really all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when there’s an opportunity to learn something new around every corner.
It’s another reminder that we should always be striving to learn something new about our photography, whether that means learning about the gear we use, the film we shoot, or the styles we pursue. If you shoot landscapes, why not try an urban environment, close up and wide open? If you’re a set-and-forget street shooter, why not try some slow paced, methodical macro work. At the very least, there’s the buzz of trying something out and you never know..the opportunity to change things up and find things out about yourself outside of your comfort zone might be worth a spending a roll or two.
You can see more of David’s great film photograhpy over at his website: therothschildphotocollection.com/#/film. While you’re there you’ll also be able to explore David’s more musical leanings too.
We’ll be back again very soon with another interviewee for you all to sink your teeth into. In the meantime and as ever, keep shooting, folks.
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