Photographer and art director Charlotte Cullen is based in Scotland and shoots portraits and commercial photography, mostly with film. Her work has been featured in Vogue Italia and published in Portrait of Britain vol.4 and she has worked for various clients such as Atterley, Innes and Gunn and Fallain Fitness. Charlotte tested out some rolls of Lomography Color Negative 35 mm ISO 400 film on a beach in East Lothian and talked to us about shooting 400 ISO in low-light conditions.
Hello Charlotte, please tell us about yourself.
My name is Charlotte Cullen, I’m 21 years old and a portrait and fashion photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Predominantly shooting on film I enjoy creating concepts and using art direction to make those come to life. I love working on location and creating sets within my local surroundings. There’s so many things I enjoy photographing, capturing life in your own perspective is something so liberating. Taking a point-and-shoot camera to events with friends will always be special to me, I love looking through old prints of me and my family from decades ago so I plan to keep that personal archive going as I get older. I always loved being creative through high school so I went on to study photography at university.
What got you into shooting film?
I really got into film through Covid. I was half way through my degree and I wasn’t feeling so passionate about photography at the time. I decided to buy a film camera from depop to try a new method of shooting to keep staying creative during lockdown. It was always something I wanted to become more experienced in so after talking to other photographers and watching YouTube tutorials I started shooting on my 35 mm canon EOS 300. The more I shot the more I become obsessed with the grain, soft quality and the suspense for scans. As much as I love my digital camera, the sentimental feeling you get with film just overpowers that.
You chose to shoot with the Lomography CN 400 film in some very challenging light conditions. How did you prepare for this? What gear did you set up and why choose such challenging settings?
I decided to shoot at Tyninghame beach in East Lothian. This is my favourite beach in Scotland as of how peaceful and beautiful it is. I’d been thinking of shooting there at sunset for a long time so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. Originally I planned for there to be more sunlight, but by the time I got to shooting, with sunset falling earlier each day it didn’t go exactly to plan. However, I really enjoyed the challenge of working with less light as I really had to adapt with the equipment I had. I brought a speed light and continuous colored LED with me, these both worked beautifully as I could capture the natural light and details of the sunset with the flash as it started to disappear.
I shot with a Canon AE-1 and 50 mm lens. I found this was the perfect camera to use as I’m very familiar with it and the built in light-meter saved a lot of time. Laura was the perfect model for me as we’re close friends and she was happy to go in the water even though it was absolutely freezing. As she’s also a photographer she was very understanding and patient when I had to reload, arrange light and focus.
How did you find the results?
I’m super happy with the results, being able to capture two very different sources of lights in a few hours just shows how much possibility there is with Lomography 400 film and minimal equipment. Even when the sun was starting to disappear the film caught the details I needed it to, it’s extremely versatile and I will definitely be using more of it in my work. I’m in love with how the light from the flash reflects onto her dress creating these gold details.
If you were to use the Lomography 400 35 mm film again what would you shoot?
If I were to use this film again I would try it within a studio space! I’d like to see how I could play with enhancing colours in a really controlled setting as this film handles color so well. I’d also try some flash again and perhaps some long/multiple exposures.
What's coming up next for you?
I have a few larger editorial ideas in the works so I’m putting together some plans for those. I’m constantly looking for new locations to shoot in so I will continue scouting for the moment.