UK-based student Jacob Howard is firmly dedicated to shooting with film and appears to be making quite a career out of it too. In this interview, he talks about how his passion for analogue photography and trying out experimental films started.
Hi Jacob, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Jacob, a photographer based in Woking, Surrey. I’ve been an avid “Analogue Maniac” for about nine years now. It started when I was about 14, I decided I wanted to borrow my dad's old Minolta Dynax 300si…which was met with odd looks from my parents. Safe to say I’ve never regretted it, it was the start to the creation of the person I am today, it kind of shaped the work I make and create.
My interests include travelling, movies and music, all of which tend to inspire my work. I love to tell stories and experiment with how I can do so, whether it be in one really powerful photo or a series of photos. I also love to capture moments and memories in my life that mean a lot to me. Whether it be at a gig or exploring abandoned buildings or even just hanging out with friends, I nearly always have my camera. I just love to document and capture memories in my life or show the fun or beauty in the world.
Movies were what started my love of photography. I used to watch them as a kid and just be amazed by the lights, colours, and storytelling, which made me wonder how I could convey and show my own stories through my eyes, which ultimately lead me to photography. I used to see photos of beautiful places and think, “That where I want to be, that’s what I want to take photos of”, which is where my love of travelling came from. I’m always looking for that next photo, I never stop searching and capturing the mundane, beautiful things that we see every day in our lives.
What's the appeal of film photography for you?
To me, film photography is much more fun, but it’s also challenging, you never know the outcome of what you’re taking photos of. That’s what drew me to it, I found that shooting on film made me think more about what I was shooting and made me more patient. The look and feel of a genuine film photo is something incredible that I’ll never really, truly, be able to describe. Every photo you take is unique and it’s own being. Unlike with digital where you can take hundreds of photos and edit it later, you have to think about it there and then when shooting on film. You have to think about how it’s going to look before you even take the photo, you’ve got to make sure the lighting is exactly how you want it and that the photo is worth taking. I’d much rather have 36 great photos than 100 alright ones.
Even once you’ve taken the photo, you still don’t know if you’ve done a good job until you get it developed. That was always the most exciting part of developing your photos. I’d always try and remember what I’d taken and how it might look, but ultimately, you’ll never know until you have them in hand. What I also love is that if you make a mistake with film, the outcome will nearly always be amazing or strange. I once accidentally created a light leak at a gig that spread across the whole roll of film, which made for one of the strangest and spectacular photos I’ve ever taken. No one can figure out how I did it — not even I know! But that’s the beauty of it, I’ll never know because It was a beautiful accident!
What I also love is the amount of “experimental” and weird and wacky film you can find these days. I can remember googling all about “Aerochrome” film and trying to find the closest version of it (which is how I found your LomoChrome Purple film). But the amount of amazing, weird and strange film you can find these days are incredible, I hate editing photos as I feel like I’m cheating, so using film is a way of making me strive for the all-out best photos I can take.
Do you have any favorite gear or film?
Favorite gear? By far my favorite camera is my Nikon FM3A with a 50mm 1.8 lens, which I’ve used to shoot the band Wolf Alice (and numerous others) and capture photos of the mountains in Grindelwald, Switzerland. But before that it was my Olympus OM1-N that I picked up in a charity shop for £30. This camera has been all over Europe with me, taking some of my most memorable photos to date. I’ve captured so much on that camera, the aperture on the lens I used to use was a little bit sticky but It’s always amazing for close up, portrait shots. I also have a point and shoot Pentax Espio 115M that I tend to take out on day trips or to parties. I tend to shoot on my Nikon D7200 as well, as prep for a proper film shoot of my subject.
Favorite film is a really tough one, I tend to shoot nearly all of my photos on Kodak Porta 400, as it’s grain and quality is some of the best I’ve ever used. But two of my other favorites are Rollei’s Vario Chrome and LomoChrome Purple. One that I’ve always loved but sadly haven’t been able to use yet is Areochrome, which prompted my love for LomoChrome Purple, as it’s very similar.
You've recently been shooting with the LomoChrome Purple, what do you like most about the results of this?
AMAZING! I first started using LomoChrome Purple back when I was 17, I begged my parents to let me order some last minute for a holiday I was about to go on. I then brought that and three rolls of Kodak to Spain with me, which created my obsession with the stuff. The final outcome you get from it is second to none. I’ve never been able to duplicate the style or look of that film in Photoshop. The outcome is always beautiful. I recently did a shoot in an abandoned warehouse. Because it had a mixture of colours and surfaces, the outcome was like no photo I’ve ever seen nor taken. They are and always will be some of my favorite photos. The striking purples and turquoise always amaze me. What I found really beautiful was that I had an unexpected outcome, with some of my photos coming out pink, which created this really amazing, psychedelic look. I also used it on Bournemouth Beach, to document some surfers in the winter, which created some striking and strange outcomes. In short, Lomochrome Purple is one of my favorite films I’ve ever used.
What do you try to communicate through your photos?
To me, my photography is about capturing moments and fragments of my life, whilst showing life for all its beauty and amazement. I try to communicate a sense of how beautiful life and the world around us can be, without any of us even realizing it. I like to sort of explore myself through photos as well, showing where I’ve been and what I’ve been seeing. With my photos, I like to think they could be seen as a small snapshot from a movie or a large collection of photos. Each has there own stories, but you’ve got to pick them apart and figure out what they are or where they are yourself.
What's coming up in the future?
Well, I’m about to start my final year at University in Farnham, but whilst I’m there I’ll also hopefully be photographing a load of gigs over the next year or so and exploring and documenting more of mine and my friends' lives over the next year. I also want to perfect and experiment more with my camera, creating some weird and wacky photos as I go along. I’m also planning a bunch of mini trips all over the UK to explore and travel some more. I then plan to fly over to Australia in search of the greatest photos I can take, trusty Nikon FM3A in hand!
To see more of Jacob's work visit his website jacobhowarduk.com