Avevamo già parlato di Tom nel suo progetto The Redwood Orphans, notando le immagini apparse sulle pubblicazioni The Outsiders – New Outdoor Creativity e Cabin Porn. Il fotografo e graphic designer Tom Powell afferma che le foto siano i souvenir della propria vita. In un’epoca in cui ognuno ha la possibilità di scattare immagini con il proprio telefono, questo atto porta con se piccoli rischi: “take it, like it, post it. Take it, don’t like it. Take another dozen until you’re happy”. Nello sforzo di assicurarsi che i suoi souvenir possano significare qualcosa, Tom cattura quasi tutte i suoi scatti utilizzando macchine fotografiche tradizionali, alcune risalenti agli anni ’60. I risultati parlano da se, ma non sono privi di rischi.
Questa l’intervista di Damian Christie su Southern Chronicles di Icebreaker.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
I was the guy, probably not as good at skating as everyone else, so always the guy with the camera. That just sparked my interest a lot more and I’ve always loved it.
DID YOU ALWAYS SHOOT ON FILM?
Yeah, I’m totally from a film background, and when I studied photography it was all darkroom.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT FILM YOU LIKE?
The photographs you get are just so – there’s more depth to them, there’s more colour to them. And there’s the pay-off when you get it back. It’s so great because it’s such a surprise and a treat.
DOES IT MAKE YOU MORE CAREFUL WITH WHAT YOU SHOOT?
Yeah. When I travel, say I’m going away for three months, I don’t know if there’s going to be any camera shops, or what I’m going to come across. So I might take ten rolls of film, and then you’re going to have ten rolls of film on you the whole time, even after you’ve shot them. So you don’t really want to be carrying too much, because if you got robbed or you lose your bag, it would be devastating. I’m not particularly careful at looking after cameras either, so I usually come back with a bag of broken cameras.
“I WAS THE GUY, PROBABLY NOT AS GOOD AT SKATING AS EVERYONE ELSE, I WAS ALWAYS THE GUY WITH THE CAMERA”.
TELL US YOUR BEST “DESTROYING A CAMERA” STORY?
My most recent was, you know the big tree on Highway 1 in California? The one that everyone gets a photograph of a car driving through. I was on a bike tour with a few friends, underneath that. I’d set up a beautiful medium format Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex. The most beautiful camera I think there is.
I had it set up on a tripod, self-timer, all of us just sitting there ready to take the photograph, and it just lost balance. It toppled down a little concrete side barrier thing, then never worked after that.
WHAT MADE YOU START PHOTOGRAPHING CABINS?
So I spent quite a lot of time in cabins and places like that through WOOFing – Working On Organic Farms, – you always end up in quite interesting spots. There’s a book called “The Outsiders” and I got quite a few photographs in that, and there’s a ‘Cabin Porn’ blog that’s quite well known, and I’ve had shots on there too.
SO, WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST EXPERIENCE TAKING PHOTOS?
The last bike trip though the States was an absolutely epic trip. I had so much fun on that trip. It’s the most free you can ever feel. For me, when you set off on a bike tour and you haven’t really got a deadline to be anywhere. It’s so simple because you’ve got two bags and your bike, you’ve got no real place to be.
IS THERE ANY DOWNSIDE TO THE FILM-ONLY APPROACH?
Oh that can be heartbreaking as well! With film you don’t know whether you’ve really got the shot, and you don’t want to take two of everything. Sometimes you get it back and it’s over-exposed or out of focus. Or, like after I dropped the Rolleiflex, I didn’t realise but it had affected the wind-on, so actually I got four films back where they’d only taken one frame on each, and that was devastating!