For this week's Artist Interviews, I had the pleasure to interview Darren Kelland. I absolutely love Darren's B&W work, his images resonate with me.
Darren is a film photographer, and creates his images using a Hasselblad camera and Ilford HP5+.
All images in this post were made by Darren Kelland.
I am Darren Kelland. I live in Jersey (which is off the east coast of France and the south coast of England) with my wife and three boys.
For a living, I work in the finance industry which is a blessing as it provides me with a great opportunity to immerse myself in the wonderful world of photography.
My main passion is for landscape photography using medium format film cameras. Mainly I use black and white film to create my photographs but more about that later.
There is the eternal question: did I choose photography or did it choose me?
All of my life I have had a passing interest in photography. This accelerated when I moved to Jersey in 2001. Jersey is a very photogenic place and so I began photographing using a very early digital point and shoot.
I suppose many adults/families have some sort of camera around and occasionally I would photograph sunsets or storms from the balcony of our flat (before kids).
In the early days I never really took it seriously but that changed due to a hip injury. My great passion was for long distance running and I loved getting out early in the morning before the world had woken up to get a long run in before I went to work.
One of my favourite memories from this time was from mid-Spring and early-Autumn when I would see the Sun rise out of the sea as I climbed a hill close to the coast. Over a period of time I realized that my right hip was not working as well as it could and after many visits to specialists I had surgery to rectify years of damage that I had inadvertently caused.
Although the period from knowing I was injured to having the (supposedly corrective) surgery was quite short it felt like a frustratingly long time. I missed being fit, being in the fresh air and having a reason to watch sunrises.
Following some inspiration from my wife I began to use photography as an excuse to get out and about again. The surgery I had did not fully correct the injury and I gave up running and indulged more in photography.
Around this time I attended a workshop with Scottish photographer Colin Homes and he used a mixture of film and digital cameras. I loved his film photographs and decided to give it a go myself.
That was the beginning of a wonderful passion for film photography that has been evolving ever since.
You are mainly a B&W photographer, and most of your images are square. I can relate to that, but tell us: why monochrome and why square?
I don't really know the answer to this question. I find the square to be more forgiving from a composition point of view.
Many photographers tell me otherwise - that is, the square makes composition more difficult. I find it makes compositions more balanced than the standard 2x3 aspect ratio.
Of course, it works particularly well with medium format film and the Hasselblad camera I mainly use produces 6x6 negatives.
As I've already mentioned the whole feel of a square format black and white photograph is one of balance to my eyes.
I do like to add a little bit of a warm tone to my images. This is something that has evolved and comes out of my darkroom process. I love warm tone paper when I am printing - I do not have a rationale to explain that.
It just is what it is.
You live in the Channel Islands and love to make images of the sea, it sounds like a dream. What is it about the ocean that you love so much?
Yes - I have a deep love affair with the ocean. I suppose it is timeless and relentless.
Many of the places I go to photograph can be difficult to get to or if there is a storm they can be slightly wild. That tends to drive people away which means that I can be on my own.
My life outside of photography is incredibly busy so some solitude is very cathartic. There is a wildness and freedom about the sea. It has drawn people for many years and I suppose many of them would struggle to explain why in the same way that I find it a challenge to understand.
I feel at home standing in front of a raging sea with my camera and it gives me a sense of being alive and being content. I tried to sum it up once in a short verse:
I confess that I am deeply in love with the sea. The tides pull on me in the same way that the moon pulls on them. I have a clock in my house that tells me when the tide is flooding or ebbing. I look at it constantly. Tomorrow morning I will be back at the water's edge - watching sunrise and high tide combined. What a glorious combination.
At times in my life when I need to be alone I go to the sea. When I want to think about my father I will watch the ebb and flow of the tides. When I can't be at the sea I dream about it. I dream about vast beaches on distant planets where the tide only comes in and goes out every 500 years. I dream about the smell of the sea air on those planets. A vague and elusive memory that grows with huge noise of crashing waves when the ocean turns and begins its long journey back to the shore.
There is no reason for my addiction that I can offer as an explanation. I do not sail and it has been years since I last caught a fish. Perhaps it is the power and the fury of a storm that enchants me. Perhaps it is the deep dark beauty. Perhaps it is the restless nature of the sea, constantly moving like a forgotten warrior searching for his one true love. Whatever the reason, it has a hold on me and I cannot tear myself free, nor do I want to.
What does your photography ritual look like? How do you see, approach and work a scene?
I look for that sense of balance that I have already mentioned.
Many of the places I photograph in Jersey are already familiar to me as Jersey is a small place (45 sq. miles).
When working in a new environment I use two tools to help me: my viewfinder and my iPhone.
Once I have worked out that there is something in the scene that I like I have a look through the camera viewfinder to try to find a chord that resonates. It's a little like digging in the earth in the hope that you find hidden treasure.
Once I am close, I will take a photograph with my iPhone. If I feel that the balance is right I will then decide whether to go for a normal or a long exposure. It depends on the scene.
While doing this I will headphones on and my favourite music playing. I believe that this influences my photography and my music choices tend to be quite ethereal.
After that it is all down to the magical interaction of light, silver and salt air.
You capture nature, and man-made structures, but there are no people in your photos. Why?
This is really interesting.
I have thousands of photographs of my family and occasionally I will photograph people walking through my scene. I don't go out of my way to look for people in a scene and as already mentioned I love solitude.
I sometimes fantasize about a world where I am the last remaining human... My photography helps bring that to reality in some ways.
When I look at the photography of Jane Bown and Vivian Maier I am blown away by their skill but I don't feel a desire to follow their route. Portraiture is wonderful but it isn't how I wish to express myself.
Long exposure plays an important role in your photography. The results can be very unpredictable, do you find yourself often surprised by looking at the negatives?
Long exposure photography fascinates me. It is quite hard to explain why in words that have not already been used by some of the greats in the field.
So I will say that I love the surreality of long exposure photographs. Particularly with film you become very distant from the initial exposure and therefore the negatives can be a real surprise and a real treat.
The fact that you don't really know what you are going to get and it can be months later before you find out is wonderful.
The contrast to digital photography is quite incredible and I agree with all who say that it makes you more subjective about your photographs.
Do you print your work? Why?
When I have time, I print in the darkroom. Printing is an important part of the creative process and I love the magic that happens by way of a chemical reaction.
Seeing a well exposed print appearing gradually in the developer tray is hugely satisfying.
Unfortunately, printing is very time consuming and I do not print as much as I would like. Perhaps in the future...
Do you travel for your photography? What are you looking for when you choose a place to photograph?
I travel for work and take my cameras with me. It is very difficult to justify spending time away from the family for my photography when I already spend a lot of time away from them for business travel. Therefore, I try to combine both.
I don't have a huge amount of influence on where I travel so I try to make the best out of each location. I will do some preliminary scouting and then try to spend some time applying all that I know to what I see. I would prefer to choose a location and spend a few days in it with no distraction.
Life is not that simple so it is important to make the most of what you have.
Describe your dream location and conditions for your photography.
Anywhere by the sea.
I would love to spend some time visiting the remote islands of Japan and, in particular, to spend time in places where people don't go.
I am a huge fan of Bruce Percy's photography (I know - colour!) and I find his Patagonian photography very inspirational.
One final location I would love to visit is Norway. I have seen some wonderful photographs from coastal Norway so it is high on my list of places I would love to visit.
Does photography fill all your artistic needs or do you do something else on the side?
Photography ticks all the boxes. I would say that I am not very artistic and therefore I am very lucky that I can photograph.
I've tried musical instruments, writing poetry and drawing. Nothing comes close to the feeling I get from standing on the coast with an old camera and a roll of HP5+.
Who’s the one artist that has influenced you the most, and how. Do they still influence you today?
I can't really limit it to one artist.
At the moment, I am really into the work of Paul Hart and will probably get my hands on a darkroom print when I move to my new house - hopefully later this year.
My early influence when I started to become more serious about photography was Michael Levin.
I am influenced by Michael Kenna (whom I have met several times) Josef Hoflehner, Pierre Pellegrini, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Pentti Sammallahti.
There are also photographers that I know on social media who are very influential and with whom I have become quite friendly.
It's a long list so in the fear of leaving somebody out I will not name them all (but one photograph that I wish I had taken is "The last of winter" by Adrian Vila!).
I can't put it down to one photographer because it all shapes the way that I see things.
You are a hybrid shooter, you shoot digital too. Do you bring digital and film gear with you all the time, or choose which one to bring for a trip?
Shooting digital is quite rare these days. If I do it is just to mix things up and I often wish I had taken the photograph on film instead. 99% of the time it is film.
Where do you see film photography in a few years from now?
I hope we still have the materials to use film. I think the resurgence has plateaued and film photography will continue as a niche.
So long as I can get my hands on a roll of HP5+ I will be happy.
One camera, one lens, for the rest of your life.
Hasselblad 501c/m, Zeiss Planar 50mm & HP5+.
Where do you see yourself and your photography in 5 years?
Photography is changing. It is impossible to know where it will be - and to a large extent I'm not sure that I care.
So long as I can do what I do today then I will be happy. Each to their own and live and let live. I photograph to satisfy myself and that is all I need.
I hope this doesn't sound dismissive. I love the work of others but my own work satisfies a craving and that is the most important thing for me.
Perhaps in 5 years I will have travelled a little more and found some more of the wonderful places along the coast to fall in love with. Watch this space.