Interviewing a film photographer
Interview with a photographer – Leyton Cleveley
A film photographer at long last, I know it has taken some time, I do apologise. You should notice from the blog and Instagram feed an addiction to anything film related. During 2017 I crafted an idea to send my camera to strangers around the country. This was called “the negative journey” and through here I came across Leyton.
It is nice to interview someone with a different background and from another country. Leyton has been a great deal of help to me with film-related. Often through the day chatting on Facebook.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What was life like?
“Hi, my name is Leyton and I am a film photographer. I grew up in the south Midlands of England about 30mins outside of Birmingham. I grow up in the 80’s so everything was film related. I attended Coventry University in the early 90’s. Since the early 2000’s I have been a self-employed entrepreneur in the IT industry. Since around 2007, I have been living in Scotland with my wife.”
Tell us about the people who have influenced you in life and your career
“I can honestly say that no large names have been a particular influence on me or my career. I have met some incredible people on the journey to get to this point, and they are far more important.”
What is your earliest memory of photography?
“My uncle was a reasonable well-known photojournalist and photographer. So I grew up seeing large 20×16 prints of the Beetles and some other well-known bands in the 60’s. He has a massive darkroom in the house, so I remember that well!”
We can see from social media you shoot film. Why are you still doing this in 2017 when many have moved on?
“There are several factors involved here…
I spend almost every waking hour in front of a computer, so it is nice to be away from one…
Film is better for monochrome photography – Digital monochrome prints just look… wrong.”
What was one of the most rewarding shots you remember and why?
“The most rewarding shot is the next one I take… I always think the next one will be my best image yet.”
Do you have a favourite lens or camera?
“I probably have two favourite cameras…
My Leica’s, I have two late R series Leica SLR’s. They are mean street machines, the Leica glass is amazing. They are not the easiest things to use, but when you get it right the results are amazing.
Canon EOS 1V has the world’s best metering and autofocus tracking. I have used it for motorsport panning shots and it works fantastically. Canon glass is 2nd only to Leica, in my honest opinion, of course.”
What is your go-to film and why?
“Ilford HP5+ fantastic grain, which you can push it to 1600 or 3200 with no problems. I pretty much always use Ilford products as I like to support a UK based company. They have always provided quality products through the lean analogue times. I do really like Foma products as well – their films really punch above the weight. But I have had some quality issues which means I cannot 100% rely on them. I really never use expired products. I think without supporting current manufactures we are going to lose more support. I am looking at you FujiFILM!”
How did you start with developing/printing? Also, do you have any tips for the readers?
“I am self–taught through my own experimentation, guidance from friends and the occasional YouTube video.
I have three pieces of advice for starting film photography:
Grab your camera gear and shoot! Film requires you to visualize the final product and there is no feedback to help you on the way.
Pick one film and developer combination, then work with it. Push it, pull it, shoot with it every way you can until trying anything else. Become comfortable with this before trying other combinations and films.
If you can, make your own prints and don’t just look at your work digitally. I can’t tell you the reason why but trust me, you will know why I am suggesting it.”
THE RANDOM QUESTIONS
When you were a child, what career/job/field did you want to go into?
“Mechanic, I am pretty good with a spanner”
Name one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses
“I’m not scared to experiment with films, developers, developing methods. I feel you really learn about “film” when you do this. My weakness is that I don’t always take feedback from my images.”
How many shoes do you own?
“In this country, about 6. I also have 4 pairs-ish in Japan.”
Can you explain kilts?
“As I live in Scotland yes, they are heavy woollen skirts for men.”
William Wallace or William the Conqueror?
You find Aladdin’s magic lamp, what are your 3 wishes?
“Probably wouldn’t use them – I mean wishes always bite you in the ass but a Lamp with a genie in it… that is cool.”
You have to share “a punch”, “a pint” or “a present” with the following:
Sean Connery, Sean Bean and Sean Coombs (P Diddy). Which option for each person and why?
< Sean Connery – Pint >
< Sean Bean – Present >
< Sean Coombs – Punch >
Is it better to be a caterpillar or a butterfly?
“Neither really, how I am supposed to pick up a camera?”
Why does it rain so much in Scotland?
“As Travis says, is it because I lied when I was 17? (Great Scottish band – try and look them up!)”
George and Mildred are found dead lying on the floor. Beside them are a pool of water and broken glass. What happened?
“Removes shades, <insert witty remark here>”
FILM PHOTOGRAPHER CONCLUSION
You should have noticed Leyton’s sense of humour through his answers. But rest assured he is correct about Travis – excellent band.
Leyton is an intelligent person, has a great interest in motor racing too. But what draw’s you in is his stance on film and digital. It is very unusual for modern photographers to want to shoot film. It is a refreshing change to only use analogue, something I only managed for a while (check out my 180 days project). It is very calming experience and nice to be away from a digital screen!
I would urge you to follow his work (see below) and get to know him. He has great knowledge of developing and printing at home.
FILM PHOTOGRAPHER LINKS
Facebook – facebook.com/AGFPhotographyFife
Flickr – flickr.com/photos/130914668@N08/
Instagram – @leytonc.agfphoto
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