Introducing our 61st In Focus interview with Torz Dallison. Torz started shooting when she was a teenager, but it wasn't until she started developing and printing that she became hooked. Through her work, Torz explores life's traditions and connections which reflects on her own personal stories and events.
Section 1 - Background
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
This is the central image to my project The Robin. I began the project wanting to see if I could somehow bring my late mother together with my daughters who she never met - I was pregnant with my eldest when she died. The project developed into ‘conversations’ between landscapes of my mother, taken in places I felt strongly connected to her, and portraits of my daughters. The robin, often said to be a lost love returning, represents my mother as this little bird appeared in her garden after she died and even came into the house on the day of her funeral.
Most of the work was shot using ILFORD HP5+ on my 5x4 camera. This image was taken at the bottom of my mum’s garden. I had initially set up to take a portrait of my daughter, but unfortunately, she wasn’t in the mood to spend the time it takes to shoot large format, and I only had that afternoon to take the shot. I explained to her about how important this project was to me both creatively and emotionally. We had a moving conversation about how I wanted to bring us all together and at that point the robin flew down and started singing to us. It was a very special moment. My daughter insisted I try to get a shot of the robin, but on 5x4 with no viewfinder I was a little sceptical. However, I set it up, focusing on a branch and patiently willed the little bird to land on that exact spot, and thankfully, she did.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
I’m a photographer and darkroom printer. I run 71 a gallery and community darkroom in Lewes, East Sussex.
My practice looks to explore life’s transitions and connections and I create series of work that reflect on personal stories and events. I shoot most of my work on my 5x4 Horseman field camera favouring the slow pace and dedicated time it requires to make pictures. Printing my own work is very important to me as I feel connected to the image at every stage.
How and why did you get started shooting film?
I started shooting in my teens when film was the only option, but it wasn’t until I started developing and printing my own images at college that I became hooked. For a while I shot digital but only due to lack of darkroom facilities. That changed when I started my MA at Brighton Uni in 2018. I knew that when I left university I would need the use of a darkroom as printing was integral to my practice. In 2020 I set up 71, a community darkroom available to rent and from which I run analogue workshops. I wanted to ensure myself and others always had a permanent place to work, print, and come together to discuss all things photography.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?
There are so many - Sally Mann, Sian Davey, Judith Joy Ross, Nelli Pallomaki are just a few of my favourites.
What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?
A photographer I really respected told me to stop making images that I think I ‘should’ be making and make the images that come from a place of meaning.
At the time I was struggling working on projects that involved my family, constantly questioning the value others would find in something so personal. She taught me that if there is meaning and emotion in your work others will connect with it.
It has been wonderful to show The Robin and see people’s response to it. I have been fortunate enough to have very heartfelt conversations around the work as it has created an opening for others to share their stories.
What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?
I am in the process of editing my photobook of The Robin. It was part of my submission for my MA but it needs refining. It has been good to have a little bit of distance from it so I can be more subjective and include some shots I was unable to take due to the pandemic.
What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?
I am currently waiting for a call to say my Intrepid 8x10 camera is ready to collect and then I will be away shooting with that. I have FP4+ all ready to go!
What are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).
I’d like to get The Robin into some more exhibitions. It was shown as part of Iris Collective group show at the Regency Town House in Hove in 2021.
I plan on building the community that is forming at 71. I’d like to schedule more workshops and have some specialist photography events. I really wanted to create a photography hub to bring people together. It all takes time!
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.
Jennifer Pattison @jennifer_pattison – capturing ‘the moments in between’ Jennifer creates such beautiful portraits and seems to have a divine skill with light. With a mixture of her subject matter, light and colour, her images really move me.
Casey Moore @caseymoore – Casey hangs out of helicopters with a 10x8 camera then makes large (very large!) scale prints in his darkroom. Why wouldn’t you follow him! His recent colour work is also sublime.
Kirsty Thomas @kirsty_thomas – influenced by the history of flower painting, questions of domesticity, and the social construction of femininity, Kirsty prints stunning constructed still life images taken on her 10x8 plate camera.
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).
Clock Tower Cameras, Brighton – always super helpful and have so much stashed away I often come away with something I never knew I needed!
Analogue Wonderland - https://analoguewonderland.co.uk
I love what they are doing for film photography
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website).
I mostly shoot black and white and process all the film myself. I use Spectrum in Plymouth for any colour film.
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).
Intrepid 10x8 (soon!)
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
A spare tripod plate – I was once halfway across a glacier when I realised my only one was attached to a camera I’d left in the car. A very patient, and cold, friend looked after my kit whilst I ran back to get it!
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
Several people have been very generous in gifting darkroom equipment and paper for 71. This is always greatly received and put to good use by all those using the darkrooms and the workshops.
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?
HP5+ is a go to film. It covers me for most situations. I use all ILFORD chemicals to develop my films and tend to print on Warm tone Fibre based paper.
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them
Bill Brooks @billnbrooks
About The Author
Torz Dallison is a fine art photographer and darkroom printer. Her practice looks to explore connections and life’s transitions. Weaving together portraiture & landscape, Torz creates series of work that reflect on personal stories and events.
Predominantly working with a view camera, Torz favors the slow pace and measured approach it demands. She is drawn to the interaction that occurs through the extended sense of time offered to the viewer and the stillness of gaze from those being viewed.
Each stage of the image making process – loading sheet film, pressing the shutter, processing the film, printing the negative – provides an essential connection to the work that is integral to her practice.
Torz works from her gallery and darkrooms 71 in Lewes and recently completed her Photography MA at Brighton University.
Darkroom enquiries: email@example.com