Feature Friday – Phil Hather

by | Mar 12, 2021 | Interviews & Features | 0 comments

Phil is a personal friend of mine and I’ve naturally been a big fan of his work for several years. The simplistic approach with clean composition, lighting and attention to colour is something that cannot be rivalled.

If you don’t already follow him, you can find him here.

Hi Phil, Can you tell us where you’re from and how long you’ve been shooting film?

I’m from Taunton in Somerset, and I’ve been shooting film for about 12 years.

How has your relationship with film changed since you first started shooting?

I began shooting film when I found a 1960s Kodak Colorsnap 35mm camera in a charity shop for a few pounds. I bought it mainly out of curiosity – I wanted to see if it still worked, and what the results would look like. In the years following that I was very experimental with subject matters/formats/styles etc and tried everything from homemade pinhole cameras up to a Hasselblad I borrowed from college. As a result, the photos that I produced were hugely varied. In the last few years, I’ve become more familiar with the style of images I like to create and the method behind them. I suppose I visualize the image I want to create before taking the photo rather than rolling the dice – it takes longer to finish a roll of film this way but I’m usually happier with the results.

How does it make you feel about shooting film when you’re travelling? Does it make you interact with the scenery in a different way at all?

Definitely – photography is one of the main reasons I travel (alongside food) and the opportunities for taking photos is a massive factor in choosing the places I visit. I am more motivated by creating images that are interesting rather than beautiful, so I sometimes end up in some pretty strange and ugly places that a lot of tourists wouldn’t visit. I am reluctant to shoot tourist spots that have been photographed thousands of times, and I’ve found so many fascinating places by purposely straying off the beaten track. Shooting film exclusively presents its own challenges (particularly on long trips to hot countries) and I’m usually seen clutching a cooler bag stuffed with rolls of 35mm film at airports.

I love how you compose your shots and capture the light, what approach do you take when it comes to composing your shots?

I have a fairly intuitive approach to composing my shots and I don’t tend to put too much thought into it – I’ll just try my best to compose an image that looks balanced in the viewfinder and usually stick the focal point in the centre of the frame. Anything else is a happy accident!

What’s your favourite camera + film stock to use?

Over the past couple of years I’ve become a sucker for a 35mm point-and-shoot with a high quality lens. My most used camera is a Yashica T5 (the poor man’s Contax T2) closely followed by an Olympus mju ii. I’m not too fussy about film and I will usually go for something mid-range and fine grained like Kodak Gold.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into shooting film?

My advice would be not to worry too much about SLRs/lenses/film stock etc. – just go out and take photos with whatever’s available and whatever feels comfortable. Some of my favourite photos have been taken with a 35mm point-and-shoot and cheap film – the camera is much less important than the subject matter.

Finally, if you could take your camera to any country, where would it be and why?

I’d like to go back to India and explore more of the north. I loved photographing the bright colours and striking desert landscapes, and didn’t have enough time to explore as much as I would have liked when I visited in 2018.

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