Part of the Process is a series of posts that puts the spotlight on film photographers and DIY film developers. These features provide unique experiences and perspectives on shooting and developing film while also showcasing diverse talent and film photographers around the globe. If you are interested in being featured, feel free to contact me!
Name: Sadie Bailey
Location: London & Los Angeles
What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?
Matt Day on YouTube, @inverse.collective and @ilfordphoto on Instagram.
What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?
The tangible, “forever” aspect of film has always interested me. I have a contact sheets from my childhood that family friends have shot when we were in NYC and that was always the coolest thing to me. I’m extremely sentimental, probably too sentimental at times, so being able to document my life so purely was just natural instinct, really. I’ve been shooting film on and off for years, but it always seemed extremely pricey when I was younger. Now that I’m older, and run my own publishing company / online magazine, am I able to really dive into the art of it all.
What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?
People! Not necessarily portraits as such. Much more “lifestyle”. A lot of my work is based around skateboarding, surfing, music & nightlife photography. However, when I’m in LA I do tend to explore the more street / landscape photography approach because I feel like the atmosphere there is extremely beautiful. I just shot a project where I skated up and down Sunset Blvd photographing buildings and landmarks that spark childhood nostalgia.
What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer?
I shoot mainly 35mm, but I dabble with Medium Format (120) in my studio from time to time. I’ve tested out a range of cameras from Canon EOS 10, Contax T2 & 139Q, multiple Olympus Mju ii’s and various different off brand SLRs but I’m currently settled with a Nikon FE2 (accompanied by a Nikkor 50 1.8) and a Contax G1 (with the beautiful Carl Zeiss G Series T* 28 mm f/2.8 Biogon). For 120- I’ve messed around with a Yashica Mat 124g and have access to a Hasselblad when I’m in LA but I only own a little Holga 120GCFN. It’s a little plastic toy camera, with very limited features / settings but the glass lens captures off some great photographs with the right lighting.
As for film, I usually only shoot Ilford HP5 pushed +1 but will happily use some Tri-X (at box speed) if that’s laying about. Ilford Delta 400 is great in 120, the grain is beautiful. I very rarely shoot colour, I mainly avoid it completely unless I’m being commissioned to do so. If that’s the case, I’ll go for Fuji Superia 400 during the day & Kodak Ultramax 400 at night with flash.
What types of film do you develop?
Black and white only. I don’t shoot enough colour to get into the development process, however I have an untouched roll of Velvia 100 on my desk so maybe I’ll test my luck with E6 if I get bored.
Tell us about your first experiences in developing your own film. How did you muster the courage to give it a shot? What resources did you use?
Oh damn. I was a few cups of coffee in, completely overwhelmed after watching video after video on YouTube. I’ve taught myself everything I know about photography so it’s always very trial and error to start off with.
I had the chemicals and all the equipment sitting in my office for months, with a roll just sat in tank, before I decided to give it a shot. I was so excited to finally start developing that when I got to the wet sink in my office I dove straight into the process without bringing all of my notes with me. I completely forgot what dilution and measurements I needed for my stop bath & fixer and stupidly ended up dumping half bottle of both into the tank instead. Needless to say, I fucked that roll up.
What is your development process like now?
My workflow process differs drastically depending on what I’m shooting. I can shoot 10 rolls in one night and have them developed in 2 days, or over 2 months and then another few weeks for developing. The only thing that stays the same is that as soon as I finish a roll, I write what it is that I’ve shot, whether I pushed or not, and then whack it straight into the fridge until ready for developing.
I also like to experiment with alternative processes, such as cyanotype, van dyke brown, or photographic emulsion, among many others. Alternative processes are really interesting to me but I haven’t got the time to work with them as much as I want. I hope I can work more with them in the future!
What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?
I only scan, unfortunately. I don’t have the space to set up a full darkroom so wet printing is out of the question right now. Saying that, a new community darkroom just opened up in Portland, Oregon so when I’m there later this year I’m going to book a session and start printing my negatives for an upcoming exhibition I’m working on.
What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?
I have everything listed under Parallax Photographic Coop’s film processing shopping list (you can find that list here). I trust them with all of my photographic needs and queries.
Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions?
Have you completed any notable projects or in the process of creating something from the film you have shot and developed?
All my projects that I’ve ever executed have been shot on film. I’ve never had the desire to try out digital photography. There’s nothing wrong with it- It’s just not for me. I just published a new zine, entitled “We Only Hate the World Monday – Friday”, along with recently shooting for Nike SB and having a 6 page feature in Wasted Talent Magazine.
What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?
I said this in a recent interview, but I’m happy to reiterate. Stop shooting “party” photos on a cheap point & shoot with Agfa 200. Spend your time thinking of projects you want to work on, and motivate yourself to do so.