Shawn Pridgen is our 59th In Focus interview. A documentary photographer who owns a small business that focuses on the racial equality, Shawn actively contributes his work to local nonprofits, activist organizations and corporate entities whose mission statements align with his own.
Section 1 - Background
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
I haven't shot it yet....
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
I am a documentary/commercial photographer and small business owner based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2020 I created ShawnMPridgen LLC; a documentary photography small business focused on the racial equity. I actively contribute my work to local nonprofits, activist organizations, and corporate entities whose mission statements align with my own and/or are actively seeking to provide contribution(s) in the continuing struggle to pursue representation and commercial visibility of undeserved communities; to take a stand in the fight for racial justice; and to create sustainable and actual racial equity, domestically and internationally.
How and why did you get started shooting film?
Like most stories, it all started because of a girl… I started shooting film in high school—my parents purchased me an old film camera from a pawnshop. I spent 2 years shooting and processing film in high school but I wouldn’t touch another film for more than 20 years after high school… it wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that I would shoot another film camera.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?
Gordon Parks. Always, Gordon Parks.
What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?
Use one camera and one lens; shoot every single day if you can.
What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?
Projects that I can discuss—I’m currently finishing up a fellowship sponsored by an athletic brand. I am also working on a 10-year project of documenting NYC with a magazine; There are a couple of other projects in the pipeline but none I can share at this time—I can say that I am very excited about this year, and I look forward to creating timeless images on film.
What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?
I will likely focus on a personal project for my next shoot—and I will have my entire kit with me:
- Pentax 67 w/ 105mm, 55mm, 135mm
- Hasselblad H1 + H2 w/ 80mm, 50mm + Phase One P30+ digital back
- Hasselblad 500 C/M w/ 80mm, 150mm
What are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).
I’d like to work toward receiving the Gordon Parks Fellowship someday—I’d also like to continue to create work with and for undeserved communities, non-profits, social justice, and environmentally conscious organizations.
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.
-Andre is an amazing photographer — his work taps into something very beautiful that speaks to me directly culturally. There’s something about the images that he captures… its magical to me…
-Bryan Schutmaat. Just go follow him. He does not need an intro at all — I have personally starred at his images for hours on end search the textures and contrast. Just go follow him now.
-Tyler Shields — I like him because he’s different and he is not for everyone. His work helps me think outside the box, especially portraiture, and his process for palladium prints should be documented for the Smithsonian. I think anyone that wants to try something different should check him out.
Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).
Kyle McDougall—dudes awesome!
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).
Photodom NYC, located in Brooklyn, NY
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website).
Photodom NYC, located in Brooklyn, NY
Section 3 - Favourite Kit
What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite?
I own the following:
H1 Hasselblad w/80mm F2.8; H2 Hasselblad w/50mm F3.5 + W/ Film Magazine HM 16-32 and PhaseOne P30+ Digital Back; Hasselblad 500 C/M w/80mm F2.8 Zeiss and a 150mm F4 Zeiss; Pentax 6x7 w/105mm F2.4, 135mm F4 Marco, 55mm F4.
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
A light meter, treasured pocketknife (used to open film and/or fix a camera on the fly), and a sh*t load Ilford film.
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II – it probably one of the best bags that I have ever owned for gear. I can carry my entire kit in comfortably.
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?
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them.
Khoi Nguyen he/him https://www.instagram.com/khoikaputt/
About The Author
Born in San Clemente, California, Shawn Pridgen began his career with the outbreak of the Black Lives Matter protests and has since published his work in Harper’s, The Guardian, Outside, Runners World, INQUE Magazine, and The Washington Post. A graduate of DePaul University, in 2020 he created ShawnMPridgen LLC; a Photography business focused on the racial equity, and actively contributes his work to local nonprofits and activist organizations in the fight for racial justice. He is based in Brooklyn, New York.
Insta – @shawnmpridgen