Here is an interview with our charming president, Richard Plumridge.
how long have you been shooting film?
Hello. My name is Richard. I seem to remember being given a Kodak 110 camera when I was very young and my mother instructing me to only take important pictures because she wasn’t going to spend $1.99 at K-Mart every time I wanted to get a single set of prints of the cat. If only I was literate. I could have invented internet memes before the internet.
I came to “proper” film photography by way of digital photography, back in the day when Agfa Vista 400 out-resolved pocket digital cameras. I discovered I could use my wonderful 3.2 megapixel Olympus C-3020 Zoom rather effectively as a light meter and plug that exposure into an old Pentax SLR I had. The best use ever for an Olympus digital point-and-shoot. I still haven’t recovered from the discontinuation of SmartMedia cards.
My first proper film camera was a Ricoh GR1-s and I reckon one of the best compact 35mm cameras ever made. Now I don’t go anywhere without my Billingham, a camera or two and a supply of film.
do you prefer colour or black and white? do you have a favourite film, camera or technique you like to work with?
In the words of the offensively stereotypical taco girl, “why don’t we have both?”. If I had to use a single black and white film, it would probably be Kodak Tri-X 400; and if I had to have one colour film, it would probably be the late, great Kodak Portra 400VC. As other members may know, my camera of choice is my Leica M4, which is probably the greatest 35mm camera ever made. It’s German, don’t you know?
I don’t have any real technique to speak of other than to shoot early and shoot often. Oh, and to find as many shopping trolleys as possible.
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?
“an essential shopping destination”
“iconic…unparalleled global landmark”
“this shopping centre has quickly established a leadership position thanks to its unique architecture, premium ambience, retail mix and innovative shopper services”
-selections from the Westfield Global Portfolio website
There’s not so much a story behind this one, rather an angry rant. The property companies that own these places love to think of them as the modern public square where people come and meet, socialise and engage with the world.
In reality they’re about people buying shit they don’t need while rent-a-cops control access and restrict certain activities from occurring there. Photography is often one of them. Little do people realise that the spaces they think are public are only accessible to them on condition they continue buying shit. And that’s assuming they can get there without resorting to the ubiquitous automobile.
I was at Highpoint recently for work and the pedestrian crossings on the centre boundary footpath had been removed from the road, erased with only the hint of a zebra pattern remaining. There were none of the universal indicators for access to the centre for anyone except the car.
Like a hotel lobby or airport lounge, these generic homogenised spaces have about as much life as an antiseptic wipe. At least an airport is a destination one visits to leave and mercifully, hotel lobbies have bars. Shopping centres seem solely predicated on the notion that we return to them again and again to stock up on more useless shit. This is probably why I find them intriguing. Their whole sterility, sameness and questionable architectural decisions.
Photography – a mass market product that came into its own in the 20th century – seems the most pertinent means of recording these private commercial spaces as the literary novel was for describing the city in the 19th century. I love Stephen Shore’s work looking at these spaces in colour. The whole New Topographics movement is still the essence of photography for the 21st century.
show us a favourite shot from the MSM pool. what do you enjoy in other peoples’ photos?
“the vanishing” by Iain MacLachlan
To pick one, the vanishing by Iain Maclachlan really stands out to me. New boundaries and new frontiers as property developers build and build. The end of the road not visible and the hint of a crane over the crest indicating the likely vast expanse of this estate.
Soon it’ll be ready for the house and land packages approved on questionable finance deals, with the new residents able to personalise their space by choosing from three different doorknobs and the tint of beige they want on their walls. As a banner on an estate near my place shouted out, “THIS IS LIVING”. The only consolation is that they will build a sterile shopping centre before they build vital infrastructure like a train line. At least I then have something to take photos of. I love Matthew Joseph’s set along similar lines.
The Silver Mine photo pool is filled with brilliant works of art, whether the photographers think of themselves as “artists” or not. It’s the photographers of the Melbourne Silver Mine who really inspired me to get out with my camera and shoot in the vain hope that I could make something like they have.
Question from the previous interviewee Steve Taylor:
Who are the photographers who influence you most and why?
I would have to say Mark Strizic and Wolfgang Sievers are among my favourite photographers. Their black and white street and architectural photography is just awesome, given its variety and success as both commercial work and “art”. I am a big fan of Stephen Shore and Andreas Gursky, primarily because they have done much to legitimise the vernacular colour photography I so dearly love.
please give us a question to ask the next person.
If you could gain access to any space for a shoot (public, private; accessible, restricted) what would it be and what would you shoot? The space itself or another subject?