interview: Hamish Innes-Brown
Our next interviewee is one of the founding MSM members, Hamish Innes-Brown.
Skyscraper, I love you.please introduce yourself. what is “your style” of photography?
I think I’m still trying to get to grips with a “style” – I tend to go off on tangents very easily. I’d like to spend more time getting to know some different styles or ideas though.
how long have you been shooting film?
I remember having a Kodak instamatic camera of some kind when I was six or seven. I found a few of the prints from that camera a few years ago, but right now I can’t seem to find them (I hope they are not lost!)
I’ve been using film cameras of various sorts, on and off, since then I guess. For a long time I had just two cameras (an Olympus OM-1 with 2 lenses and a Canonet QL-17) and never really felt the need to get anything else – I have thousands of negs from those two cameras stashed away in various folders… I have had two digital cameras – a Canon A95 snapshot camera (still going strong) and a Pentax K10D SLR that I use if quick results are needed, but otherwise I’ve mostly used film cameras since childhood. This is not really for any philosophical reasons – I couldn’t afford a good digital SLR until recently, and I didn’t like the really small viewfinders and bad low-light ability that the early digital cameras had… Now I mostly use a Mamiya C330, or the pentax digital (for speed or convenience).
I’m trying to streamline everything into one medium format film camera, and a small digital, maybe one of those micro 4/3rds Olympus ones that will be able to use my OM lenses.
do you prefer colour or black & white? do you have a favourite film, camera or technique you like to work with?
I like colour and black and white. For black and white my favourite film is TRI-X 400. I’ve got to know it, and it’s predictable and useful in most situations. I use the simplest developer I could find (Diafine) that doesn’t need any special temperatures or timing. That stuff drives me insane. For colour I go for whatever reasonably fast colour negative film I can find that’s the cheapest.
For ages I used Portra 160NC though, as I bought a bulk lot of it – that’s pretty good stuff too, but a bit slow sometimes. I don’t really care about colour balance as it all gets either screwed up in the scanning process or bent to my will in photoshop anyway. I have played around with infrared film a bit, but can’t seem to get it right (I get huge grain and contrast). One day I’ll work it out, and when I do I want to photograph people’s veins.
show us one of your favourite shots and tell us a bit about it – how did you take it? is there a story behind it?
Some time during new years day, things got tiring.
I think I’d like to take more pictures with people in them. This was taken years ago, maybe in 1999 or 2000, with my afore-mentioned OM-1 and probably some C-41 black and white film. It was on a new years trip to a country town in the southwest of Western Australia.
Basically, we were all hideously drunk and falling over on the floor, and somehow this nice picture came out. It’s not that I want to take more lucky shots, but I’d like to take more shots like this, that look lucky but were made up. I’d like to have the time to dream up a scene and arrange it and light it and all that stuff.
show us a favourite shot from the MSM pool. what do you enjoy in other peoples’ photos?
There’s such a huge variety in the MSM pool, and my tastes change from day to day, so it’s hard to choose a “favourite”. I decided to search for some keywords in the pool. I tried “nude” (only 4!) Then I tried “dark”, and found this one which I like.
•••, by Kiem Tang.
But then I tried harder, searching my flickr “favourites” for things which were also in the silvermine, and found two which have a bit of a long term favourite feel to them – ones that I’ve liked for a while, rather than just found.
The first is ‘…across the river Styx’ by Stuart Murdoch.
…across the river styx, by Stuart Murdoch.
I like this one because it reminds me of being in highschool, analysing a photograph for probably the first time. The photo, of course, was “Behind the Gare St. Lazare” by Henri Cartier-Bresson – the very famous photo, allegedly taken through a hole in a fence, of a man about to land in a puddle. I managed to see a nice big print of Stuart’s photograph at his 2007 exhibition in Footscary, and was taken back to that time, being shown how to follow the curves and lines around, and thinking about the path your eyes take over the surface of an image for the first time.
The second is “ribbon hat” by Jonathan Warner, which is great because it just manages to very simply conjure up everything that’s great about Melbourne on a winterish day:
ribbon hat, by Jonathan Warner.
question from the previous interviewee: Is your work a mirror or a window?
Not too sure, probably a bit of both. I don’t think it can ever really be just a mirror…
Please give us a question to ask the next person.
Do you like to meticulously plan shoots, or go out (or into the studio) and and see what happens?
Thanks for your time, Hamish! You can see more of his work on flickr as science.