Infamous on Twitter for his enjoyment of biscuits as well as being a well known name in the film photography community, this week we talk to Sandeep Sumal for our 22nd interview in this series.
This shot was taken in Covent Garden, London back in 2016. I had just recently started my film photography hobby. It was an art installation and it was there over the Christmas period. My early photos were a real struggle with metering so when taking this shot in grey winter light and the majority of it being indoors I was not hopeful that I would get it right. I wanted to convey the scale of the installation as well as the ordinary scene of the shoppers going about their business. When I got the scans back, I was so pleased that I got the scene and it gave me a real impetus to push on with my learning.
My name is Sandeep Sumal, my day job is office based in London (or was before Covid-19, now working from home). I grew up in a little East London town called Ilford, yes the very same where ILFORD film was born, My main hobby is photography and I would say I shoot 90% of my images on film.
I came to photography very late (Around 2014). I always had an interest when young but nothing I really pursued. Instagram got me into photography. I'd take photos on my phone, add all the filters and post pictures.
I found I was really enjoying taking pictures so moved on to a digital camera. Quickly I came to the realisation that I was taking every photo on auto setting plus taking 30 shots of the same scene and picking the best one. Thus I was not really learning anything. A chance reunion with an old school friend who I had not seen for 30 years changed that. The friend Paul Cooklin it turned out is a very good fine art photographer who used only film and he strongly suggested I give it a try. I purchased an Olympus OM1n specifically because it was pretty much all manual thus taking away my auto setting crutch and I was hooked.
This is a difficult one to answer for me as mentioned I came to this late so really had no history with photographers or photography. There are a few photographers whose work inspires me. Don McCullin, Fan Ho, Jane Bown and Michael Kenna to name but a few.
That’s an easy one, ‘spend time behind the lens’. I’m not a technical person and reading about the technical details is a big turn off for me. Thus go out there take photos, review your photos, learn what you liked and what didn’t work, then go out again and repeat the process.
On a day to day basis I just take pictures of what I like and where I happen to be. I have projects in mind but quite often they are one roll projects or challenges to better describe them, to aid my learning. Longer-term I seem to be drawn to London telephone boxes and my main interest is cars. I will one day put together something on both of these. Ultimately and I haven’t found what it will be yet, is to do a project that represents my upbringing as a British Asian and navigating both cultures.
Nothing specific in mind at the moment. I tend to decide on camera and film the day before I know I am going somewhere specific. The choice of camera will depend on how much I can carry, For example, a hot day with lots of walking I would take a light camera and only one lens where as a day at say a car show then it would be all about the look I want and what camera suits best. Similar with film, light and subject matter are the main drivers for my choice.
Keep learning, keep improving and most importantly keep enjoying it
This is a terrible question, how can you ask me to choose 3 out of all the great people out there shooting on film.
Andrew Bartram @Warboyssnapper on Twitter. Excellent analogue photographer and also a very good darkroom printer
Tina Rowe @tinarororo on Instagram to see all the things you never realised you can do with emulsions
@Johnscarbro1 on Twitter for black and white everything and great pinhole work
I’m afraid I don’t really watch any YouTube channels so can’t help. That said https://analoguewonderland.co.uk/ have analogue TV which is worth watching
Being London based there are some good and interesting shops to visit. Mr Cad in Victoria www.mrcad.co.uk which is a treasure trove of photography. Also https://www.cameramuseum.uk/ in Bloomsbury who specialise in Hasselblad.
I believe I have got to a set I really like. The problem is there are so many good cameras out there that I’m always tempted with more.
For 35mm SLR I have an Olympus OM1n and an Olympus OM2. For 35mm point and shoot a Nikon 35Ti.
My medium format cameras are a Hasselblad 2000fcw and Fuji GF670
My Olympus OM1n was my first and will be my last and forever camera. It is the best.
On a side note, I learnt more in a year about photography using a Holga than I ever would with any other camera. Try it.
Filters without question. Yellow, Orange, Red and a Polariser. I like the effect filters have especially on black and white film. Orange is probably my favourite to use and for relevant scenes can really give the effect I want. Aside from filters a day out with the camera requires snacks,Haribo Goldbears and a KitKat for starters.
I’ll keep this one simple, a lens cloth or lens pen. Dust is my enemy
I shoot quite a bit of Ilford HP5 plus and love the look and the versatility of it. That said my favourite is actually Ilford XP2 Super. It was one of the first films I tried. The fact it is C-41 was an advantage as I was able to take it to a local High Street store and get it developed and scanned same day. The film is also very forgiving in terms of latitude so as a beginner this was a very helpful bonus when getting to grips with metering. Most of all though it has a lovely contrasty look which I really love.
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