Lucy Wainwright - Interview
Lucy Wainwright is a passionate and committed film photographer who resides in the Derbyshire Peak District in the UK. The Derbyshire Peak District is not only her home, but her main photographic subject. Her practice of film photography integrates exploration, experimentation and an absorbing colourful eye. Not afraid to make mistakes in her calling, she often creates using different types of cameras, different types of film and different printing methods. In her words, she is a “middle aged ne’er-do-well who drinks too much coffee, disdains housework and spends all her money on film.” This is testament to her approachable down to earth nature, her ability to use humour cleverly and also her humble disposition. Today we speak to her about her adventures with film photography.
How did you first become engaged with film photography and what drew you toward working with this medium?
I'd been doing more and more better photography on phones and compact digitals for a year or so, then in May of 2012 I bought myself a decent digital camera, a Nikon D3100, and a pretty good superzoom, and spent half a year getting used to it & producing better pictures. Though always on auto! Then my boyfriend bought me a Diana F+ for Christmas and I had to learn how to take a real picture on real film for real.
I loved it straight away. I only use the digital for college now, to record the work I do for assessments, as creatively speaking it pretty much died in my hands after I got my first roll of MF developed. It was film love at first sight. Even though most of the pictures were awful!
Your current photography is imbued with colour and YOUR photographs often appear to be experimental in nature. Can you tell us a bit about this and what this means to you?
Colour moves me. Huge colour moves me more! It's such an important part of the mood of some photographs. I am very experimental, I suppose. I don't know an awful lot about the technique or practices of fine art photography and this partly means that I blunder a lot and partly means that I get to do excellent things that I didn't know you weren't meant to do, like using a 35mm lens for portraiture, or whacking on multiple magnifying lenses to make flowers look very dreamy.
Your subjects range from people, children, events right through to rich abstract images. Do you approach your photography in a strategic manner or do you engage with film photography in a spontaneous, less organised manner?
I am literally making it up as I go along, trying things out and reinventing wheels every day.
I love to play with films and cameras and try combinations out and just follow my picture instincts. I'm having the time of my life.
How does this approach inform your engagement with the medium?
Every time I take a camera out (or four or five more usually) I give myself wholly to image making. It's entirely absorbing. It's a kind of rapture of looking and noting and ... kind of grabbing with my eyes. There's something very acquisitive about my photographing - I'm loving what I see and I'm grabbing it. I want that... and that!
You have a background in literature, Philosophy and psychology. More recently your academic journey has been in the area of art therapy. What led you to art therapy as a course of study?
I was always interested in psychology and art. I love understanding and tuning in to people and things around me, and some years ago I found out that there was this thing called art therapy, and I just knew that was my calling. I was Called. Art and artistic processes are wonderful for connecting people to their creativity, their agency, and their understanding.
Art is a powerful tool for healing individuals and communities.
And have your studies influenced the way you work with film photography?
Quite often my hobby photography and my college work get mixed up and feed into each other (I'm at art college).
This means that sometimes I present work that particularly moves me, which I think makes it more powerful.
You are also involved in a number of film photography groups online. What is your role in these groups? And what do you gain and contribute to these types of online communities of film photographers?
I contribute to two or three Facebook groups and also moderate one of them. The group I moderate - Color Film Photography Group - is a fantastically supportive space, and particularly welcoming of women I think. In so many online groups this is NOT the case, sadly. I gain friendship and inspiration and I hope that I contribute to the other members' social experience of being in the group. I'm also a regular contributor to She Shoots Film on Facebook, which is a project very dear to my heart.
What is the most important piece of guidance you’ve been provided as a film photographer?
I don't know! I don't think I've been given much advice really, yet.
The best life advice I know goes something like, "Fail again! Fail better!" and it certainly applies to photography. That's my advice to myself.
Do you have a preference for a specific type of film camera and film? If yes/no, why?
My main cameras are a Nikon F90x (N90s in the States), Olympus XA2, Olympus PEN-EES-2, Pentax ME, Superhedz Ultra Wide & Slim, Diana F+, Voigtlander Bessa (MF folder) and a Polaroid Colorpack 80 (I modified this myself to take Fuji FP100c). I like to take at least three cameras out with me at any one time - one with colour, one with black & white and one with slide which I'll xpro. I love to xpro. XA2 and Fuji Superia 200 is a cracking combination & probably my signature look.
What do you hope people see, feel or think when they view your photographs?
I know what I hope they *don't* think ... but I do know that expired film and big colour shifts aren't for everyone. I hope people think that I looked at something in an interesting way, that maybe was new to them. And that they just think that that is a GOOD looking image, sometimes. I'm photographic Marmite, I think. Some people do & some people really don't.
What photographers or other artists inspire you and why?
I'm inspired by the people I know who are artists and photographers ... the image makers and image lovers I 'meet' online and whose art is artless, and heartfelt, and free, and full of love and fun and just *being* there.
What advice do you have for someone with an active interest in film photography, but hasn’t taken the plunge yet?
Dude, what are you waiting for?! Here ... borrow this camera, have this film, go snap stuff, then show me what you got.
For more of Lucy's work, please visit her Flickr page.