One of the things that we're enjoying about this series is that it lets us find out more about the photographers that you follow and are interested in. This week's interviewee Chris Garner, was nominated by Joseph Patrick, who in turn was nominated by Laura E Partain. Who's nomination came from Sandy Phimester.
Section 1 - Background
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
My favorite image I have made so far would have to be this image. I made it while I was walking around, camera in hand and ready to go if I see something in front of me. Getting off of the train I noticed the light streaming into the platform area created a very contrasty scene. I was shooting HP5+ with a 50mm zone focused to about 2 meters on my M6 with an orange filter to really boost the contrast.
As I got closer to the area, I framed my shot in my mind then waited for the subjects to enter the frame. As soon as I saw this diagonal formation happening I quickly snapped the photo. I didn’t get the chance to make more than one photo, so I was pretty happy when I developed the photo to see that it was just as I envisioned it.
Being a street photographer, there are a lot of shots taken, and many of them are misses, but every now and then you get something the first shot. That is how I felt about this one.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
First and foremost before any other labels I am a photographer. I create, and the camera is my tool to do so. What I like the most within photography include street, travel, documentary, and environmental portraiture. I love the spontaneity of photographing people in their environment, and documenting the places they populate. My camera is my tool in helping me learn about other’s cultures and identities, and also a medium to share what I learn with others.
How and why did you get started shooting film?
I actually bought my first film camera a Ricoh”35” and first roll of film, HP5+ around 2009. I never actually finished the roll because I was a digital shooter at that time, and didn’t like the all manual pace of a film camera. Around 2017 I was living in Thailand, and a friend of mine named Ben, let me borrow his Nikon FM10 to try. After I used his camera I almost immediately bought a Cannonet QL17, and I haven’t looked back at digital cameras for photography since then.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?
I would say my biggest inspiration to date would be Gordon Parks. His photo essays were very striking to me. The iconic photos he produced of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and the American south made me want to keep viewing the images over and over again. His use of framing, light, and even posing his subjects in portraits are a few of the things that keep me inspired. He used the camera as his weapon to fight to change the world around him. I admire that about him.
What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?
The best advice I would have to say came from my dad. He is a big advocate of the K.I.S.S. method. Something I heard throughout my childhood. K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. I think this is something that I still hold on to and apply it into not only photography, but also my life in general.
What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?
I am currently working on a project centered around the small prefecture I live in here in Japan called Okayama. It’s not a “tourist destination” type of place. I have been photographing here for the past 2 years and plan on compiling the images I’ve created into a project. I have also been working on a project focused specifically on the “Hadaka Matsuri” (Naked Man Festival). The event has been held annually in Okayama for more than 500 years and is the most famous in the country. Sadly, I couldn’t continue my documentation of the event this year because of Corona virus protocols being very strict on the event. I hope by next year the event will continue as normal and I can continue to document it.
What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?
My shoots are daily. Every day is an opportunity for me to create a new image.
Before I leave home I will make the decision on the camera and focal length I want to shoot and the camera I want to use. As I walk a lot, I try to keep my pack as light as possible. I tend to shoot only one lens on my Leica M6, which has been the Voigtlander 35mm Ultron ASPH v1. I may pick up a point and shoot camera to carry, but the M6 is the constant.
If I’m shooting 120 with the intention to make street portraits, I”ll use the Mamiya RZ67 with the 110mm. Funny enough Joseph Patrick is the reason I bought mine. He made a portrait of me and some friends once and I remember thinking what the hell was that camera he was using. Been loving mine since I got it.
As far as film goes, I usually have a few bulk rolled rolls of HP5+, and some color negative film.
What are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).
My personal photographic goals for 2021 are to have at least one studio exhibition, produce a short zine, and produce a short photo essay. Just want to take the first step in building some new habits.
I want to be a Magnum photographer and have my work published in National Geographic, New York Times, and Time, among others. Also, I want to work with a few brands that I enjoy. I just want to collaborate and create!
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.
@ahraun: Ahraun is a friend of mine and someone who’s photography I admire, not because we are friends but because he produces beautiful images. He has a great sense of story in his images and uses photo collages, double exposures, and colors to really push the narrative in1 the photos. He showed me that even the photos that are not the masterpiece are still a necessary piece to build the story the story.
@Dashaunaemarisa: I’ve been following Deshaunae’s work for a while. Her photographs have been published in various publications like New Your Times and Time magazine, but I think one of her most interesting creations involve her Instax photographs. On her IG and Youtube channel she does a series called InstaxThursdays where she makes these Instax collage portrait things. I know terrible explanation, but it’s definitely worth checking out for yourself.
@Sissi_lu: Sissi Lu is a photographer based in NY that I like to check in on to see what she is creating. She has a running series making street portraits of older people around the city, then asks them what advice do they have for younger people. It’s cool to see how she approaches the people, and the answers the people give. She also is a contributor to the underdvlp YouTube channel.
Give a shout out to your favorite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).
Doing Film Things: Ribs is dope in the darkroom. He has been going hard in the darkroom and producing a lot of quality content on his YouTube channel. I like his progress with his printing. It’s been pretty interesting to follow.
Hopper: T does some really cool deep dives into the photographic style of photographers, cinematographers, and also directors. She approaches the various artists from an analytical viewpoint, highlighting the photographic styles of each person.
Wolf and Sheep: Is a film photography centered Youtube channel from Thailand (Thai language only) run by Artytl Lerdrakmongkol. The channel has everything from camera reviews, to interviews with Thai photographers and artists, and also deep dives into the photographic history of various brands. He is also a photographer and the owner of film photography shop called Husband & Wife Camera Shop in Bangkok. He and his wife have played a big roll in the revival of film in Thailand in my opinion.
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).
B&H Photo - New York, USA
Freestyle Photo - California, USA
Husband & Wife Camera Shop- Bangkok,
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website).
Asano Camera- a family owned camera store here in Okayama Japan. They still do same day C41, and it’s close. This is my go to lab at the moment.
Lerts- A nice spot to get same day c41 developing done same day right in the heart of the shopping district in Bangkok, Thailand.
Pattani Studio- If I have something that is very important to develop, this is the place I trust to develop. They do in house C41, E6, and black and white developing, and also darkroom printing. Highly experienced staff.
I develop all of my black and white film at home.
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).
I have a few goodies. Currently for 35mm I have a Leica M6, Contax T2, Ricoh R1s, and a Nikon L35AF.
For medium format I have a Mamiya RZ67, Pentax 6x7 nonMLU, and a Fuji GS645s.
Easily my favorite is the M6. It just works for what I do. I know the camera so it doesn’t take much work to get the photos that I want out of it.
I knew it was a match made in heaven because after I bought it I looked up the serial number and found out it was manufactured in the same year I was born. That one isn’t going anywhere. It will be with me till the end.
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
Always some noise canceling headphones, over ear, not in ear. And also a small notebook and a pen or pencil.
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
Hmm that’s difficult. Maybe an expired roll of Fuji Provia 400X in 120 my friend Reika gave to me. I ended up making a couple of my favorite images of a 1000 year old cherry tree at the height of the blossoms. All of the shots came out beautiful and it was my first time ever shooting medium format reversal film.
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?
My favorite Ilford products are definitely HP5+. I love to push it to add grain and contrast to the film. I do love FP4 also. In Medium format I love the contrast and grain structure of FP4 at box speed. I just started shooting Delta 3200, but I haven’t shot it enough to give it a ranking among my usuals.
For paper I like the Multigrade IV RC Deluxe. I haven’t worked with it much but, I have seen Joseph Patrick in the darkroom. I really like the results from some of the images he’s printed with it. He put me onto the paper and I've made a few prints, but I'm still a noob in the darkroom. Also, I don’t have a way to flatten fiber paper so the fact the RC paper drys flat is a big plus.
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them
All images ©Chris Garner
About The Author
My name is Christopher Garner. I’m a professional photographer born in Nashville, Tennessee and currently based in Okayama, Japan. My work is centered around street, travel, and documentary photography captured on film. Photography is my passion, it is my tool to interact with and document the people, places, stories around me.
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