Feature Friday – Thyla-jay Quickfall (thyla2)

by | Mar 26, 2021 | Interviews & Features | 0 comments

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

Oh heeeeey Jake! Great to be in touch with you buddy, damn it’s been a while aint it.

I am from the Mother Land, AFRICA! On the most southern point of this beautiful continent, encased by impressive mountain ranges which carve through the lush grasslands, with channels of golden sands which glisten like glitter off orange sunsets, all the way down towards the vast, blue Atlantic, you will find Cape Town. Yes, I really am this cheesy. I have been shooting film on and off for about 3-4 years now, taking a much more consistent approach over the past two years.

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

It has changed and still is changing. It’s like a relationship, at the beginning its new and exciting but you’re still just two strangers getting to know each other lol there is a lot to learn. Shooting film has made me recognise that patience and a willingness to learn from mistakes is important, film has definitely taught me to slow down and take a much more of an intentional look at what I’m seeing, if that makes sense! I remember being really interesting in capturing body form before I even picked up a camera, although once I started taking pictures it totally took its own route, now it’s more of a virtual diary.

I’m a big fan of your street shots, what’s it like to shoot in London?

Coming from you, I am really flattered. I should mention, back when we first met, after seeing your work, I absolutely loved them, the textures, light and colours, I was hooked and felt compelled to talk to you about it. It was after such conversations with you and another great photographer Chris Taylor which lead me to buying my first camera! Nothing to do with the question, but there we are, I needed to say it! Thank-you for that.

Back to the point though, in theory London is a great canvas to learn, you have buildings, green areas and amazing diversity, although I think at the point of moving to London, I was still quite new to film photography. I would say my confidence to be within a new city and my confidence to use my camera has completely correlated with each other and only recently I think I have delved deeper into understanding my surroundings and how to capture it.

I have enjoyed exploring how to shoot in more urban landscapes, capturing the geometric shapes and lines in a way I find ascetically pleasing, and recently combining this interest with attempting night time photography, another great aspect of being in a city, the lights and colours at night show a completely different side and feel to the place.

You have taken some wonderful portraits, what’s your process for setting up your shots and do you approach strangers for portraits?

Thank you man, yeah, I find them really enjoyable. I am not sure whether it is because of where I am from, or just because of how I am but I am a pretty hands on, tactile person type of person. I think I’m a people person, I like people, they’re beautiful. I’m touchy and in your personal space, especially with friends and family and I think taking portraits of people in the moment for me is just another way of grabbing that moment, being in it and making it last. Only recently have I built up the courage to ask strangers, I’ve had a mixed bag of responses, but when they’re open to it, it’s been really special.

What camera(s) are you using at the moment and what’s your been your favourite so far?

At the moment I am using a Nikon FE2, 50mm lens film camera, she’s great and the first camera I have tried night time photography with, we’ve connected on these new experiences. I like the way it feels in my hands and the way the shutter speed and light meter symbols in the viewfinder match up and work together, super nifty.

My first camera purchased was a Pentax ME Super, which I still have such a soft spot for, felt good in my hands, big view finder and she be cute but it broke, I took it back to the shop and they gave me an exchange (canon at-1) but I definitely want to purchase one of these again.

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

Do it, do it, do it. Ask lots of questions, try and enjoy the process! When you do, take your time, ask friends to be subjects and look at other work that inspires you.

What’s your go to film stock?

I feel like I am still learning so much about film, but there is something about Kodak Gold which I find super nostalgic and warm, brings out colour in forms I didn’t even see before. When the bank permits, Portra 400 has produced amazing textures, colours, right saturation and contrast, it’s been great to use in landscape shots!

Who are your favourite photographers/film labs at the moment?

There are so many! I’m always keen to see your new shots, your recent landscape shots are unbelievable, when’s the prints droppin.

As mentioned before Christ Taylor (hstrswy [check our recent interview with Chris here] ), love the way he captures people, great candid moments.

Christian (cbshoots), beautiful shots, he has a way of capturing that golden hour. Joe Howard, super clean, great colours.

James Collins, amazing action shots, somehow, he manages to get super close to the action.

Charlie Sarfield, amazing portraits, great energy in them.

Film by Peggy, based in Taiwan, love how she captures architecture and cityscapes.

Betty Oxlade-Martin, stunning portraits.

There is so much more, but I should probably stop now! Still have so much to learn about processing, a good friend of mine bought me this darkroom workshop in 2020, still waiting for Covid to allow me to do that, I usually just go to Snappy Snaps in Crouch End, made good friends with the manager who has lent me a few tips throughout.

Thanks again Jake for asking me, been really fun to reflect and take stock of this journey, something we should do naturally but don’t! Looking forward to bumping into you again and clinking a couple of ice colds uns!


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