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.

Section 1 - Background

Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?

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.

Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?

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.

How and why did you get started shooting film?

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.

Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?

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.



What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?

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.

What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?

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.



What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?

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.

What are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).

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.



Section 2 - Shout outs

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.



Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).

J.P. Morgan The Slanted Lens.......Just good common sense advice.

Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).

Photographers Formulary - Montana  http://stores.photoformulary.com/

Bostick Sullivan - New Mexico  www.bostick-sullivan.com

Badger Graphics – Wisconsin  www.badgergraphic.com



Section 3 - Favourite kit

What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite? (Please send us a picture of it if you can).

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

Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?

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.

What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?

My uncle gave me a Rolleicord that has a lot of family history behind it. A treasure.



As this is an ILFORD interview it would be remiss of us not to ask about your favourite ILFORD products. Tell us you favourite ILFORD film, paper or chems and why?

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.

And finally…

Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them

David Burnetthttps://www.davidburnett.com/

Michael Strickland - https://www.michaelstricklandimages.com/


All image ©Tom Kirkendall