After a roughly 12 year hiatus from shooting film, I got back into it in 2016 before a trip to Japan. Since then it has all been film for my personal projects. As you’re reading this article on a film photography blog, I won’t harp on about all of the things I love about it.
The way that I shoot most of my personal projects is usually more along the lines of captured moment, rather than creating them. When I’ve got time to myself, I love street photography.
The first real film camera I bought was a trusty EOS 300 back in 2002. This was before a trip to Europe. In the years since, after diving into digital (don’t shoot me yet), I collected various canon lenses and sadly film took a back shelf.
Fast forward to mid 2016, once I was again shooting 35mm with the trusty M6 for a good few months, a light bulb flicked somewhere in the memory bank and visions of the EOS 300 came flooding back….but where was it? After a lot of digging, I uncovered in the box in the back of a cupboard. Some fresh batteries was all that was needed, crisis averted.
After shooting it for a month or two, I stumbled across the double exposure feature, and was inspired to head out to see what was possible.
These EOS cameras have an automatic frame advance – but you can override it with the push of a button, allowing you to take up to 9 shots on a single frame. I think i’ve only gone as far as 3 shots in a frame, but the best shots have been a combination of two frames.
“In the city” was one of the first double exposures I took, and was quickly hooked on trying out different scenes.
The feeling of creating a photo rather than capturing it was refreshing, and a different kind of challenge.
The first set of shots were made during the day time, but after seeing some great work from other photographers at night, I ventured out with some Cinestill to see what was possible.
Mannequins are also a favourite topic when I’m out on the street, so when initially shooting solo, they were logical parts in my shots.
Straight lines and positioning are things that I’m particular about with my regular work, so getting that right with a double exposure on film takes on a whole other level of attention to detail. There is also the aspect of choosing two scenes that will complement each other.
Neon is something that a lot of photographers who shoot multiple exposures use to great effect. The contrast of the right sign against the other exposure can sometimes be all that you need to make the shot.
When choosing complimenting frames to overlap, I often find myself looking to combine two scenes that are physically close together. In “Laundromat 2050” the pink neon was the road sign to the shop, while second part of the shot was taken inside the shop. Again, the challenge here was really getting things lined up.
In terms of looking for inspiration for images, I find that some of the shots are spur of the moment. If i’ve got the right camera with me at the time and there is an interesting first part of the scene then I’ll take the shot and then figure out what to overlay.
There are then other shots that are very much premeditated – like “Contradiction” for example with the no parking sign overlaid onto the car space. When I saw the “no parking” sign down at street level, I imagined this combined with an empty spot – so after taking the photograph of the sign, I setoff on a hunt to find the right car park to finish the shot.
I tend to prefer shooting most of my work on colour film, but do enjoy the simplicity of black and white on occasion. You don’t have to think about any possible colour distractions in the final frame.
Recently after looking for an SLR that was more compact than either of the EOS cameras – and was all manual focus – I pickup up an OM2n. A bonus being that this is able to shoot multiple exposures (and more than 9 on a single shot if that is what you’re after). “Inception” came from the first roll that I ran though the Olympus.
Superimposing neon across a portrait is something that is done quite often, as the effect can be striking. The two images in “Broads” were shot 3 days apart, as I’d seen the street sign when on holiday in NYC, and had to wait a few days until the model was available for the portrait to complete the image.
Adding the extra variable of time into the shot makes it again a more interesting part of the creative process – although of course it is not evident to the viewer unless they are aware of the fact.
While it is always a joy to shoot Cinestill, I found that the night shots work equally well on consumer grade film, with Fuji Industrial (Superia) 400 producing great colours at night.
About Mark Forbes
As a child, moving around the world several times and never staying in one place for more than a few years, gave Mark an understanding of different environments and their cultures.
Mark’s approach comes from an underlying fascination with people and their interaction with the environment. He has an uncanny knack of capturing the layers of beauty that exist everywhere around us. “I am an avid people watcher. When I’m out in the street, or even just day to day, I’m constantly seeing beautiful and interesting images and stories in my head.”
Recently visiting Fukushima to shoot a photo essay (), Mark interviewed locals that had been displaced from their houses by the events of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster. “The opportunity to speak with the locals, to hear them recount the events of the day and the following years since was something I will never forget. Everyone has a right to have their stories told.”
Transitioning to digital for client work, he had rediscovered the joy of shooting all of his personal projects on 35mm & medium format film. He has shot for many brands including Mercedes Benz and Samsung.
Take Two is an ongoing project. Images are available for limited edition print purchases.