Ellen Rogers

Anatomy Films interview

Anatomy Films interview


‘ You can see the edited interview',


, and a big thanks to Federico who was so gracious with this post.

‘ Why do you prefer to shoot on film? Advantages, disadvantages?' 

I’m glad you asked me this as I’ve been asking myself repeatedly for years and I believe my answers have always been flimsy; it’s beautiful, it’s messy etc etc, but that’s not really why, I didn’t until recently know why. I had aesthetic attachments but that isn’t and shouldn’t be enough.
Content, is as, if not more, important than form. I began reasoning with the idea of ‘slow fashion’ a few years back; wherein some fashion designers attempt to slow down the throw-away and disposable society we live in by injecting a deep sense of craft. I do think this in part plays a reason why I’ve unconsciously stuck to this but I also think there is perhaps a darker reason why some people (me particularly) live in the dusty archives of photography. Culture is not moving forward in the way it once did and when I look to ideas of aesthetic gravitas I find myself no longer looking to the future but to the past.’

I realised recently that my work took this nostalgic turn around 2008 and I think that it might not be a coincidence that 2008 was the year of the banking bailouts -the financial collapse and the face of collapse aesthetically for my work. My work took on a melancholia I didn’t see in my daily cheerful life, but my unconscious saw it. My work and the work of peers like Susu Laroche, Rebecca Cairns etc who began working simultaneously in that period of time, I now believe had the same hope and despair at modern culture but I believe we were trying very hard to rewrite the future by altering the past. And on a positive but similar note it also serves as a connection to an alienated people, people who love to work, who love to use their hands but don’t have a place globally speaking to do that. The artisan is in short demand, their role is diminished socially, art is now undervalued and it pushes us to the reaches of nostalgia, where a craft was once revered, once needed/ valued. We want to be needed and valued. To merely write us off as luddites negates the role we seek to fill as crafts people ‘ workers. Sometimes I see my subjects as lost, or at least as lost as I am, lost in liminality, a now static place that would once have been a hopeful future. I could go further and claim my work is perhaps a mourning of the future. A spectre haunting... I think this is why I shoot film and perhaps it’s a disadvantage. That’s not to say I don’t love it, but I refuse to think this stubbornness on my part is all that healthy. It’s also beautiful and messy and all the things that make me love it. It’s a painting with light and other worn out photographic phrases. Worn and lived in, loved to death!

‘ Do certain clients hire you specifically because you shoot on film?'

Almost certainly, my role commercially is usually exactly what you might expect it is. I often serve as the anachronistic, artistic, painterly, dark alternative for a weight of tradition in the campaign. I also spend a great deal of time and care in what I do, and I very much hope it shows. I love working and I love doing what I do. Short of spending much needed time out of the darkroom I love how satisfying the process is and I’m glad clients can see value in the slow methodical practice.

‘ Do you on occasion employ digital? Like if a well paying client asks? Or you have a bossy Art Director who must look over your shoulder?'

No not ever, my boyfriend has a digital camera and I use it these days to photograph what I’m doing, which feels like a bit of a novelty. I don’t think it’s much in the interest of many clients to ask an analogue photographer to use digital as many more people out there are doing it and doing it very well.

Ah bossy art directors, they are great! I love strong minded creatives willing to argue for their voice. Darkroom or digital printing? I am in the darkroom every opportunity I get which isn’t that much these days but still several times a month.’ The prints on my store are digital and I’ve recently spend the time getting to know Giclee prints more attentively.

‘ Do you already have a theme in mind when you shoot? Or is your shooting process more fluid?'

Yeah usually, I have something strong even if it’s a feeling that needs some sort of immediate articulation. Strangely, I find that when I practice writing, my photography improves too, I feel more cogent. So I’ve been writing more and more and the ideas become more realised and rounded. On occasion I’ll have a drawing or set to go by but mostly it’s a strong emotion. I suppose what I’m really describing is the creative process itself - of synthesising emotion to aesthetic.

'Do you process your own film?'

Yes, I do, and I love to do so. Since living in London I’ve had to send it off for processing and it feels horribly like cheating. I feel I’m robbed of my ritual.  Film processing is such an ingrained part of my life that if anything is fiddly or tricky in my daily life I close my eyes to do it, as I’ve become accustomed to being more dextrose in the dark. Are you a hybrid shooter, (film to scan), or are your prints darkroom only? No it’s all darkroom, unless it’s C41 on the whole that’s scanned in. It’s an expensive game really! I really do wonder why it’s such a hardwired need!?

‘ Do you ever use Photoshop/Lightroom, or is the darkroom the sole domain of your vision?'

I don’t use Photoshop but I do use Lightroom, I think it’s great for digitally archiving images and changing their size and correcting the image to look as much like the original from the bias the scanner gave it, which is usually some unsightly green if you have an Epson.

'Your latest project is quite beautiful. Are there more projects in the making? Shows?'

Thank you! I will be continuing with my Gnosis project and my ambition is to write much more about the political landscape of photography. Having been a lecturer at various universities for some time now I have seen the massive disadvantages of not looking at photography theoretically and only looking at and analysing the visual aspects. It is also a massive disadvantage when working for a client too.’ I for one will be thinking more and more about why people use film too, why we often focus on individualist emotion in photography rather than social or collective thoughts and what the connotations of certain fashion images are in a broader sense.

'Any inspiring words for fellow film photographers or people who would like to jump onto the film bandwagon?'

Experiment!!! A true creative is a person who is willing to fail, if a ground is too easily walked, it might not be your own... and perhaps consider that the term all-analogue (a term I adapted in 2008) might not be the most freeing of terms (coming from a perhaps jaded and boxed photographer ;) ) Culturally and personally it is very important to know why you are doing what you are doing. Art is culturally, historically and progressively important; if you are making art, you are making history. Ask yourself questions all the time; what is this image saying? Why am I making it? If it’s expression, what does it express? If it’s automatic, what is your unconscious letting you know broadly/culturally?

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