We've admired Tom Kirkendall's beautiful pinhole images and darkroom prints for a while and were thrilled when he agreed to take part in this series and allow us to find out a little more about him in this, our 38th In Focus interview.
My favorite photo??? Now that is a difficult decision. In the words of Ansel Adams “It is the one I have not taken yet” But if I am pressed to make a decision it would be a Holga photograph from Rialto Beach near Hole-in-the-Wall, Olympic National Park. I am always attracted to coastal landscapes and this one really expresses the raw rugged environment of the Northwest Coast. Working with a Holga is one of my favorite photographic tools. You are limited to one lens, one f stop one shutter speed, Bulb. I always find when you limit your possibilities you think a little more about what you are doing and how to get the image you envision.
Tom Kirkendall, freelance travel landscape photographer. I have been a professional photographer for 40 years although I always had an interest in photography and took it seriously in the mid 1970's. In 1978 I took my photographic skills to the next level when I moved from North Carolina to California to attend Brooks Institute Of Photography in Santa Barbara. After graduating in 1980 the real life as a photographer began.
I started in photography long before digital images were a possibility. A Kodak Instamatic for a Christmas gift in the mid 1960's and playing around with the family Kodak Retina 35mm sparked my interest early. When I took photography seriously in the mid 1970's ILFORD HP5 quickly became my go to film with the 35mm Canon FTB camera I had. Now I will photograph with a spread of formats, 35mm, 2 ¼, 4x5 and 8x10 and will use a verity of ILFORD films to match the format and subject in front of me.
Early on I was drawn to the story telling of W Eugene Smith. His ability to tell stories with photographs was stunning. No words were needed.
Elliott Erwitt images of every day people shown in a humorous way remain some of my all time favorite images.
David Burnett working today with 4x5 cameras, Holga or some vintage camera takes a different view point on news of the day. A wonderful visual break from the standard digital images that flood the news cycle.
When I was at Brooks we a guest speaker and somewhere along the way he said ”Fill your head with junk. Learn about things you do not care about because you never know what you will need to know.” This has served me well. It makes it easier to talk to someone you just met if you have some point of common ground no matter how small. It also makes you look at the world from every point of view.
This past winter I worked on a series of still life images in 4x5 and 8x10 of plants and tree leafs I found in the neighborhood. Going simple set up as I could I photographed them on on white or black paper with window light. I will continue more as spring weather produces more to collect and photograph.
Spring and summer flowers are blooming and I am looking forward to recording whats out there. In June I will be co-teaching with Greg Vaughn at a Muench Photographic Workshop in the South Dakota Badlands. For both projects I will most likely I will use my Hasselblad and ILFORD FP4 Plus film. But I am open to any format film combination. Always not to far away will be my Holga N with FP4 Plus.
I am always look for new ways to see the world. How can I compose a scene differently, what is a new way to see and use natural light. Although I own a truck load of cameras that I have been collecting over the years I want to limit myself to one camera one lens and see how I can make that work.
We all need a bit of inspiration and love so this is your chance to tell the community about yours – from the film photographers whose work inspires you, the labs you trust with your film, your ‘go to’ film photography stockists, your favourite community darkrooms or just anyone in the community who you feel deserves a special mention.
Give a shout out to your 3 favourite film photographers (not photography hubs) currently active on IG or Twitter and briefly tell us why others should follow them.
I do not spend much time swimming around the internet.
However, on Facebook and Instagram you can find:-
Michael Strickland a fantastic large format photographer.
Adam Jahiel photographs the cowboy lifestyle with great detail and heart.
Alan Ross a master printer and former Ansel Adams assistant.
J.P. Morgan The Slanted Lens.......Just good common sense advice.
Photographers Formulary - Montana http://stores.photoformulary.com/
Bostick Sullivan - New Mexico www.bostick-sullivan.com
Badger Graphics – Wisconsin www.badgergraphic.com
The Holga 120 N has to be my favorite. It is a simple no fuss camera and you are never really sure exactly what you will get.
I also work with a 100 year old 8x10 camera that I have two barrel lenses (no shutter) for it. Also a K.B. Canham 4x5 with four lenses and a boat load of film holders. In 2 ¼ I have a Yashica-Mat, Rolleicord, Hasselblad and a 6x7 folding camera. In pinhole I have a beautiful custom John Engelman wide 4x5, Holga Wide Pinhole, and a Nikon FM with a Body Cap Pinhole. For 35mm I have a Holga 135BC and an Ilford Sprite 35-II
Most important for living in the Northwest is a rain fly. It can also be used to sit on when the ground is damp. Along with that a warm hat and gloves are in there. Winter can happen any day. Head lamp is also essential idem for those very early hikes in and those way late walks out.
My uncle gave me a Rolleicord that has a lot of family history behind it. A treasure.
The most common ILFORD film I use is FP4 Plus in 8x10, 4x5 and 120. It has a great grain structure, holds highlights well and does not get muddy in the lower zones. When photographing with 35mm or pinhole I will use HP5 Plus for a faster speed. Also a great film. I have used Delta 3200 with 35mm pinhole and found it added a wonderful texture to the Image. Pan F film found its way into my Holga in the past however now it is all FP4 Plus.
Printing in the darkroom I use ILFORD MG Fiber Glossy almost exclusively. If I want to warm things up I will use Warm Tone ILFORD Paper. I will contact on ILFORD RC papers just for the speed of getting it done in a hurry to see what I have and use the contact sheets for my file system.
All image ©Tom Kirkendall
Tom Kirkendall is a professional photographer. He spent his younger years backpacking and exploring the High Sierra with his family. During his teenage years his family moved to coastal North Carolina where backpacking and mountain adventures was replaced with surfing, fishing and sailing.
Always interested in photography Tom’s career as a photographer started with covering Little League Baseball for a local newspaper followed by a short time photographing wedding and portraits. For collage, Tom headed back to California and attended Brooks Institute of Photography to expand and refine his photographic knowledge. After graduating he rode his bicycle from Mexico to Canada and settled in Western Washington with his wife Vicky Spring, also a professional photographer. Together they have built a career of traveling and exploring that has taken them around the world.
They have produced 15 recreational guide books covering hiking, skiing, mountain biking, bicycle touring and family adventures. Their landscape images have appeared in calendars, books and magazines. Always on the lookout for a new adventure their travel images have appeared in numerous calendars, Alaska Air, Backpacker, Sierra, Nature Conservancy, Kayak Angler and AAA Journey. Some of the more unusual assignment work has taken them to the summit of Mount Rainier or searching for Sasquatch through the Northwest forest. Every once in a while we enter the industrial world of manufacturing creating images of pumps, motors, machinery along with the men and women who make it all work. Current work includes documenting the homeless of the Puget Sound.
Up coming Photographic Workshops
Badlands South Dakota June 6-10 2021
Olympic National Park July 25-31 2021
Yellowstone/Tetons September 30-October 7 2021
Monument Valley October 26-31 and November 2-7 2021
Winter in the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park – Winter 2022
***I will be featured in Black and White Magazine June 2021
Posted on 3rd June 2021
Posted on 26th February 2021
Posted on 4th June 2021
Posted on 30th April 2021