I've been a fan of Phil's work for a while now and if you visit any of his websites (links at the end of this post) you will see that he is a very talented photographer - and I would highly recommend you check out his Crete photos, as well as his Holga work which I will be featuring here today. Among his many wonderful photographs, his "old people from the hip" series caught my attention and I wanted to feature these on my blog today. He was also gracious enough to answer a few questions for me.
How did you get introduced to your first Holga and how long have you been shooting?
"My first Holga! Well, I had been blogging for a while and had seen the name Holga banded about having no idea what it was. One day curiosity got the better of me – I did a few Google searches and decided to order one from Holgamods – that was in the middle of 2006."
What is it about the Holga that draws you to it? Why do you shoot with it?
"Initially it was no reason – I just wanted to play and I had never shot medium format – what came after was the wonder of not being tied down by apertures and shutter speeds. Of course you still are as the Holga does have at least one shutter speed and aperture! But, it is the freedom, using your time thinking about the shot as you have no control over the shutter and aperture. Of course, there is a skill to using the Holga – it’s not quite as random as people think. The position of the light is very important – you soon discover that. As to why I shoot with it – it suits my needs really – I walk to work and walk home. I wanted a camera that was very light that I could carry all the time – I was already using the Holga and then realised it would be perfect for work. I finish work each day and wander with the Holga for a period – weather permitting."
Could you tell me a little bit about your "old people from the hip" series, or your shots of elderly people in general? Do you ever get in trouble taking strangers photos?
"The old people shots from the hip came out of my desire to (a) carry a camera to work every day and (b) do something constructive with the camera having bothered to carry and I guess (c) a desire to take more people shots and yet being quite nervous about it – part of the discipline was to ask people if I could take their photo and from that came the thought that perhaps I could take secret photos and then just how close could I get and not be noticed!
I chose old people for a number of reasons – they are slow! They are interesting visually, they are plentiful in Bath on a sunny day – less chance of them hearing the shutter click when close – a number of reasons some silly and some practical. They are also very easy to engage in conversation.
As for trouble – I have managed to keep away from that – people are usually okay or perhaps I am fleet of foot!"
"Well, in the UK 90% of the time I use 400asa film – XP2 or BWCN400 for ease of processing – colour Pro400H or Kodak’s 400VC – when in Crete where the light is bright and harsh I will use 160 Fuji and have used 100 Slide – Provia is my fave."
Your favourite Holga photo that you've taken?
"My favourite Holga shot – well, I still end up back right at the beginning, second film I think, it still makes me smile. I guess there are other Holga shots that technically give me more pleasure, but, I still love this for impact and the joy it seems to bring others."
And last but not least - what is your favourite ice cream flavour?
"Ice-cream – Mmmmm not much of a sweet eater! As I always end up sharing my wife’s ice-cream I guess I ought to go with her favourite – Chocolate – nothing with it, just chocolate!"
Distracted and Caught in the Act, Bath Abbey Churchyard, Bath Somerset
Lapping it up, Bath Abbey Churchyard, Bath Somerset