In celebration of Women's History Month, we are interviewing inspiring women from around the globe who work in the photography industry or have set up organizations to encourage and advise women photographers. For this installment, we talked to Rachel Brewster, a UK-based wedding photographer, and owner of Little Vintage Photography who devised the Analogue Adventurer Kit to make analogue processes more accessible to everyone.
Hi Rachel tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Rachel and I run Little Vintage Photography. I’m a charity shop treasure hunter, a science nerd, a tech geek, a caravan-towing, Alaskan husky-owning, storytelling enthusiast. I’m a sentimental, vintage camera & antique book lover. I believe in the simple magic of sunshine and chemistry and the importance of human connection, memories, and legacy. I set up my business to embrace the unique, imperfect and beautiful moments of life, and in order to help others to do the same.
Through Little Vintage Photography, I specialise in analogue photographic processes. I capture weddings and celebrations on film, create photographic artworks to commission and run educational workshops for anyone curious to learn about alternative ways of creating images in more mindful ways through techniques which combine science and art.
What inspires you to shoot with film over digital?
I shoot film because it’s my passion and my business. I get to watch the amazement on someone’s face the first time they process a film or see a print come to life in the developer tray and it feels very special. Looking back now, it seems as if working with and sharing analogue processes has always been the thing I was meant to do, it just took some time to realise it! I love the warmth and softness you get with film grain, the tactile nature of holding a print in your hand and the endlessly fascinating ways in which it combines art and science.
Have you ever experienced struggles on being a 'female" analogue photographer? If so, how did you overcome the challenges?
I can honestly say that the vast majority of my experiences working as a female analogue photographer have been very positive. We have a truly wonderful community in which people are incredibly generous with their time and in sharing their knowledge. In some ways, as there are less of us around, it can open up greater opportunities and working as the co-host for the Sunny 16 analogue photography podcast over the past 3 years, and since starting the ‘Shoot Film Be Nice’ approach, I realised it was an opportunity for a female voice to join in the conversation and be heard. I’m so happy that this area has continued to grow and more female voices are now on air talking about analogue photography than ever before!
The flipside of being a female analogue photographer can mean you’re less anonymous and the online space can become more of a minefield of unsolicited advice. I do still frequently get asked if this is ‘my proper job’ and if I am working with a male photographic assistant (shooting weddings for example), there are many occasions where he will be addressed first. I set up a small Facebook group called Awesome Female Photographers in order to at least give one small space where women could share their work without the unsolicited advice, and as a place where you could still feel able to identify with other women’s work, without feeling intimidated. There’s often a lot of pressure in that you can’t just be ‘as good’ you have to ‘be better’. I wanted a place where I could share my mine and others’ work and just ‘be’. In the end, I specifically kept it open to all genders, because without our colleagues also championing what female photographers do, we close ourselves off and it becomes an echo chamber of invisible women.
What would you say to a female photographer starting out in the industry?
Embrace it all! Don’t be afraid of just being you and doing what you do. We all have a unique viewpoint on the world and now is a perfect time to get started with expressing yours. Get involved in the growing analogue photography community that’s out there, experiment, try things, fail, learn more, try again and create something that is wonderfully and uniquely yours. For any negative experiences that come your way, there will be a whole army of other photographers out there who will have your back. I think female or male, it’s just important to bear in mind; #shootfilmbenice