Kristina-Marie Ross is Editor of Oh My Edinburgh, a free magazine that predominantly uses analogue images. We asked her about this project and where he love for film photography began.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you started Oh My Edinburgh (OME)?
So, my name’s Kristina. I’m Editor and founder of Scotland’s free 32 page alternative newszine ‘Oh My Edinburgh’. Before I started OME I was a freelance journalist also working in Edinburgh Airport part time. Every day, I would be approached by tourists who had just landed asking me “What’s there to do in Edinburgh? We don’t want the tourist stuff. We want the genuine stuff.” So I found myself writing on scraps of paper places to eat, drink, dance, visit that were all of my favourite independently owned locations in the city. It got to a point I was writing on so many scraps, I had to think “If only there was a way to put these into a free alternative guide for locals and visitors to pick up..” So that’s what I did! I started a magazine which was about the material and not the ads. We’ve had independent features with support from the likes of The Maccabees, The Vaccines and many other musicians. Not only does it have great reading material! But it is a predominant film photography based magazine. You can read a little more detail about why I started the magazine here though.
Why did you choose film for your magazine?
On the one hand, it’s fantastic that people who may not have been interested in photography before have found an interest for it now thanks to camera phones and social media as a pairing. However, I feel there’s a forgotten skill in photography these days because people rely so heavily on the filtering nature of digital images. It’s not that there’s no skill in using a great digital camera, but people forget how sacred it feels when you only have 36 opportunities to take a great photograph manually. There’s a buzz you get in the success of a fantastic film photo that is much more permanent and memorable than that of a digital one. If you take a great digital photo, you may have found it in amongst 50 others of a similar nature and then go on to tweak it til it’s completely perfect – mainly because with digital, there’s no excuse for it not to be perfect! You have all the tools to guarantee perfection, there’s a very clear way to do it right. But with film? There’s so much risk. You could look through that lens and see something perfect, but perhaps your lighting conditions don’t match the film you’ve chosen to use. Or perhaps your film didn’t latch on properly. Maybe you forgot to check the aperture and have been photographing everything as one big blur! With a digital camera, it’s a helpful assistant and it physically shows/tells/maybe even refuses to shoot for you unless you’re doing it right. With an old, battered film camera? The thing can’t tell you if you’re doing it right. It’s only in development do you look back on your images and realise what you should have done correctly. And for that reason, film is an art. It’s a profession. You have to understand absolutely everything within the equation of taking something as simple as one photograph. You need to understand your camera, your film, your subject and your conditions. There’s so much that can go wrong – but when it goes right? It’s the most exquisite feeling which isn’t just appreciated by you and your own hard work, but everyone notices the beauty of a great film photograph. And I wanted to use that medium in my own publication to showcase how nicely these beautiful grained images work in a newspaper format. Every film photograph in the zine was very much a eureka moment. I wanted to use images which had to be caught and couldn’t be staged, so for that reason – film was perfect.
Where did your love of film begin?
There was a point my film photographs weren’t turning out nicely at all. I went to photograph Nick Cave with an Olympus Trip and didn’t get one single photograph from the performance. Not only that, but I was in the pit with seven other photographers who had equipment that was more expensive than my income. I found myself a little embarrassed using a camera which looked like a toy. Then one day, when I’d very much nearly given up, I had my film developed for a Leon Bridges gig from the night before. I’d never seen anything so perfect. I was so used to having reels of failed exposures and out of focus portraiture that I’d never had a perfect shot. And here I had plenty! I think I’d finally started to understand how to use all the elements at this point and when I realised the potential of what I could do with film, I developed a new confidence in using my cameras. In time, photographers were approaching me in the pit with disbelief I was using a camera they hadn’t seen in years. Some even stopped me in the street to tell me their grandfathers had the same camera many years ago! It feels wonderful to see people light up when they reminisce over the art of film.
Tell us about the images?
I’d never been to a festival before, and I’d been given the opportunity to do some work for OME at Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of The Road Stopover in Aviemore, Scotland. Set in the highlands, it was the most beautiful setting for a festival. Only, it rained. All the time. I mean, beyond torrential. It rained so bad, you couldn’t see the Cairngorms! In a very last minute arrangement, I was invited by The Maccabees for an interview to feature in the first edition of OME. After our chat, we rushed for shelter backstage and a cup of tea. I took these images through nerves and rain water as I was 1) very nervous and 2) completely drenched. Although only a few images backstage, I was so proud to have worked with a band who meant a lot to me growing up for my very own creative ambition! I felt pretty emotional about the whole experience as I left the site. From being judged for using an Olympus Trip in a Royal Concert Hall to being appreciated by musicians I loved because of the medium I was working with.
Whats coming up in 2016?
With two issues behind us in 2015 with front covers including The Maccabees and The Vaccines, I’m hoping to take a more food inspired direction in 2016. I’d love to release our third issue this Summer on the anniversary of our first ever issue with The Maccabees. In order to fund this, we’re looking to feature independent businesses in full page advertisements which can compliment the magazine and also with very affordable prices catered specifically to independent businesses. Next for me? Development, I think. I’m planning to set up a dark room in my attic so I can challenge myself one step further and learn how to develop film itself! Not to mention, a few film-photography weddings on the horizon!
Visit the Oh My Edinburgh Website for more information.