Can you believe it's December already? Where did the year go?! It has been an AMAZING year for me...lots of new directions and new opportunities. I am sure Sherri can second that as well! A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to "chat" a little with Sherri about her brand new eBook, Film (Re)Discover the Magic, on Craft and Vision founded by David DuChemin. This book is chuck full of filmy goodness, as well as a wealth of information for those who are interested in exploring the world of film photography. With the medium of film gaining popularity since I started back a few years ago, this book is the perfect companion to kick-start your first step toward film.
Perhaps you are writing up a wish list for the holidays...how about adding this brilliant ebook on the list! Oh and by the way, Sherri is giving away a generous 25% off discount code at the end of this interview...
So,let's get on with the interview, shall we?
Joyce: So first, tell us how you started your photography journey. How did you get into photography? What do you love about being a photographer?
Sherri: My interest in photography started at a young age. I loved the idea of documenting my world then, as I do now. I continue the practice of writing in a journal as well as making photographs. In fact, I find it quite therapeutic. Revisiting meaningful experiences through the words I have written or the photographs I have made continues to be one of my favourite past-times. What I love most about being a photographer, is the idea of creating a permanent record of a particular moment in time. I have had the honour of photographing life as it begins, and as it ends...I feel extremely blessed to have been asked to make photographs of these incredible moments.
Joyce: I think all of the film photographers can agree that most switched from shooting digital to film because of the rewarding process. In your opinion, what is (are) the ingredient that is missing from digital photography, and why?
Sherri: I have never been a digital photographer so I can't really speak to what might be "missing" from digital. What I do know, is that I feel completely connected to my subject when shooting film. I have played around with digital photography, and have found myself consistently distracted with the immediacy of the camera preview.
There is also a sense of permanency when making a film photograph. There is nothing to immediately delete. This idea of creating each image with thought, intention and meaning is somewhat more sacred when shooting film, simply because there is nothing to immediately dispose of.
I love the mystery of film...so if I had to choose something, I guess that is what I would say is missing from digital...the mystery.
Joyce: While researching for this interview, I was particularly drawn to your beautiful portrait work. I love how you married the classic style and the elegant simplicity with a refreshing modern approach to your portrait work. How do you define your style? How do you differentiate yourself from "the photographer next door"?
Sherri: First of all, thank you for your kind words! Early on in my career as a photographer, I went through the process of discovering my personal "style statement". The process involved an interview with the founders of the concept, from which my personal statement was created. The style statement itself is 2 words. The first word is considered your "80%", or the foundation of your style. The second word is your 20% and is typically what motivates you or distinguishes you. The personal style statement that was presented to me at the time, was "classic, luminous". I immediately connected with this statement on so many levels, and I continue to feel a deep connection to it.
The classic piece represents the timeless and uncluttered images that are my signature style. Luminous, or "lit from within" is the way I like to paint with light which is also part of my signature style. Given the perfect light and film stock, a film portrait can look luminous just by way of how perfectly skin tones are rendered. I believe the luminosity of an image is also born out of the connection between the subject and the artist. My goal going into each of my portrait sessions, is to make a strong human connection. I believe this is what truly makes a photograph luminous.
The combination of these elements are what set me apart. I believe the only way you can be unique is to stay true to your own signature style. As the saying goes, "there is only one you".
Joyce: Congratulations on your brand new eBook, Film (Re)Discover the Magic, which is available through Craft and Vision, a website created by David duChemin. What an accomplishment! Please tell us what inspired the writing of this book? And, tell us a little bit about what this book.
Sherri: Thank-you! This book is for the digital photographer who has never explored the medium of film, and is curious to know more. It is also for the film shooter who is very new to film and looking for some inspiration and guidance. In the end, I hope to inspire everyone who reads the book to not only explore film for themselves, but to encourage someone else to pick up a film camera and experience the process. As you know, it really is magical. As for what inspired the writing of the book? I won't go into all the details here, but I was dealing with some health issues and doing some soul searching when David approached me about marrying my passion for writing with my passion for film photography. I have been committed to the art of film photography for over 12 years, holding on tight even when the digital hype was at its peak. There is a new excitement around film photography these days, and I have been exploring how I could share my experience and passion. The timing of the opportunity to write this book was perfect.
Joyce: In your book, you took the readers all the way back to the 1800's when the photographs were delicately and deliberately created using the wet plate process. Can't we have the same experience when we shoot in RAW with our digital cameras? Let's face it, the Photoshop is getting more and more sophisticated. Sky is the limit if you have one of these photo processing software, so why film? What can film do that photo shop can't?
Sherri: That's a great question. If I'm to be honest, I don't think I can answer it in detail simply because I'm not a Photoshop expert...nor am I an expert at shooting in RAW. I will say this: having experienced the wet plate process first hand, there is no modern photographic process that comes close. The experience is so tactile, methodical, scientific and unique, it simply stands on its own. With respect to what film can do that photoshop can't? Where skin tones are concerned, film wins. Skin tones are rendered purely and perfectly. I have yet to meet a digital photographer that can say that about a sensor
Joyce: I think film is gaining popular and momentum since I picked it back up a few years ago. Why do you think people are drawn to the process of film? Why is it so attractive and addictive?
Sherri: I think in part because of such influential photographers such as Jonathan Canlas, Elizabeth Messina, and Jose Villa to name a few. The unique aesthetic of their work has made people pause and wonder what is different. How can the skin tones be so perfect...where is that color palette coming from...and what lens is creating such creamy bokeh? The "FIND" movement has also been hugely influential, creating a renewed sense of energy, excitement and accessibility around film. I think there was somewhat of a turning point when the VSCO actions were introduced...allowing smartphone users to create images, add some filters, and ultimately create a photograph that had the influences of film. People may not have realized it then, but they do now...that these actions are actually creating an image that has a film aesthetic. I believe people are ready to slow down and rethink how they make images. Our lives are so fast-paced, we are looking for a reason to slow down. Film invites us to do just that.
Joyce: What is the one thing you want people to take away after reading your eBook, and why?
Sherri: That film is simple, accessible, and affordable. The concepts are basic, there is no new technology to learn. The rules haven't changed. With a little effort and some inspiration, you can be off and running relatively quickly.
I want people to know this, so they feel motivated to experience the process and introduce film photography into their everyday lives. The slowing down of using a film camera will invite you to make photographs of your life that may surprise you.
Joyce: Since we are on the topic of books, what are some of your favorite photography books; the ones you'd love to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa on a snow day?
Sherri: My all-time favorite photography book is "Diana, Princess of Wales" by Mario Testino. Given unprecedented access to the Princess, Mario Testino spent a day making photographs that truly changed the way the world saw her. This book is full of jaw-dropping portraits and breathtaking candids. (like, literally, take your breath away candids...) This book is no longer in print, I purchased mine many years ago from a private seller in London. I still remember, when I opened it for the first time, the original proof of purchase from Kensington Palace fell out and I nearly cried I was so excited. (no, I'm not dramatic at all...) I could spend all afternoon, any afternoon with this Mario Testino book. Some of my other favourites are "Street Photography" by Vivian Maier and "The Man, The Image & The World" by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Each month, I also read Vogue and Vanity Fair cover to cover. I've been doing this for as long as I can remember.
Joyce: I know our readers are now DYING to know:
- What is your favorite film camera for client work and for personal work, and why?
- What is your favorite film stock and why?
- What is one gear you can't live without when you go on a shoot?
- If you can give one advice to any photographer who wants dip his/her toes in the realm of film photography, what would it be?
- contax 645 for both clients and personal work because the 80mm f/2 zeiss lens creates some of the most beautiful bokeh I've ever seen
- currently it's ilford hp5 plus. black and white is my first love - i have always been a kodak shooter, but i am really enjoying exploring with this film right now.
- contax 645 - no camera=no shoot, right? ;-)
- just get started! film is actually really simple. and FUN!
who are your favorite artists on your playlist right now?
Wild Nothing, Here We Go Magic, Phantogram, and Brooke Fraser's new album "Brutal Romantic"
"I wish my kids would hurry up and go to bed so I can watch...."
A quote you live by:
"Start as you mean to go..."
What is the most exotic place you have ever been?
Your favorite hobby other than photography:
Writing...as in pen and paper (I love to collect pens too)
Airplane, Train or Automobile?
Wine, Champagne or Beer?
Two truths and a lie, go! (in any order)
Always the truth...here goes...I am adopted, I love to sing, I worked the night shift at a gas station when I was in college.
Have you made your Christmas list yet? How about adding Sherri Koop's eBook, Film (Re)Discovered the Magic, along with a few rolls of film and a simple film camera? If you have always wanted to give film a try, the time is now! Sherri's ebook will take months of guess work out of the learning curve right off the bat. Because it's an eBook, you'll get immediate downloadable link. No more waiting for the book to arrive at your door! Sherri and Craft and Vision have generously offer our readers a 25% discount code:
Discount Code: littlebellows25
Code expires March 1, 2015
Film (Re)Discovered the Magic by Sherri Koop
You can see more Sherri Koop at:
Blog Contributor and Writer: Joyce Kang
Joyce Kang is a children & family photographer in Austin Texas. She is also a mentor and an instructor for Embrace The Grain, an intro to film photography workshop. She is married to her best friend and enjoys outdoors with her family. She loves to curl up with a good book and has a terrible addiction to any thing that tops with a heaping scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate fudge!