msdm a nomadic house-studio-gallery for photographic art and curatorial research, an expanded practice of the artist's book, photobook publishing and peer-to-peer collaboration created by contemporary artist paula roush
Blame your parents: Doing it yourself with vintage film cameras + good old paper zines
Presentation by Amy Warwick at the Photobook Pop-Up, London Road, May 2016;
Recorded with an iphone 6 and transcribed from .mp4 into a word.doc
I got into film photography just before starting my photography degree. I like messing around with cheap film cameras I find on EBay. I met a friend of a friend one day just pottering around in Shoreditch, he was using an Olympus mju ii, which I now use a lot. I got talking to him and looked at his work, he concentrated a lot on street and documentary photography. I really like it and used him as inspiration to get into this style of photography.
I follow a lot of other film photographers who use point and shoot cameras on Instagram and they all seem to be making zines. A lot of photographers seem to be getting their work onto print. I looked closely at their zines and their work and decided to create my own zine filled with 35mm film documentary and street photography. I think it suits a zine really well, analogue photos onto print instead of digital photos on a screen.
I had four months to shoot and I didn’t really know where to start. I decided to take a completely different approach to this than my other projects, I’d usually try to think of a bunch of ideas and go with the one that I think is the best. For this project I just started shooting anything I saw that I thought was interesting when I was out and about with my friends. It sort of turned into taking photos of drunk people, I liked the look of it so I went with it.
I shot the whole thing on an Olympus mju ii. One of the reasons I chose it was because it’s so concealable and easy to get into places where flash photography is banned. On the street I’ve found that people get a bit intimidated when you ask for a photo and you’ve got a big DSLR set up, with an mju ii they don’t always even noticed I’ve taken a photo of them because the camera is so small.
The zine is kind of like an archive of my life at that time. My parents used to use point and shoot film cameras in the late 90s to document my sister and I growing up. It’s cool to look back on, to scan the negative and see all the grain in the photo. For me I can pick my zine up in the future and it would be a funny thing to look back on, mostly photos of my friends messing about, out and about in different clubs.
The zine just developed into the last four month of my life I guess. At the same time, it’s a documentation of this whole party life thing, documenting this group of people who are young adults but not quite mature, they’re still into the whole teenage lifestyle of drinking, partying.
I think this fits well with the punk aspect of the zine. Kind of doing what you want the photozine to be because it’s yours, anyone can make a zine. Making zines is definitely something I want to go into some more, maybe make a series.
I like the idea of the analogue photos and the kind of analogue presentation. It’s not on a computer screen, it’s physical, in your hands. Same as when you get the negatives back from the lab, they give you the prints and you can feel them. A lot of my favourite photographers do stuff like this, shoot on film and make zines - Cheryl Dunn, Ed Templeton, Deanna Templeton. They still shoot analogue and get their photos onto print.
I love the aspect of the photobook, especially zines. They’re so cheap to make, I used cheap film from a poundshop, cheap paper. It’s a really cheap way of getting your photos out there.
Almost all of the photos in the zine were shot in Brentwood, Essex. It’s different to how Essex is portrayed and it’s different to the stereotype that Essex has. I didn’t specifically have the location in mind while shooting though, more youth culture. You can look at the zine and it could be any British town. The content is something that most young people can relate to, everyone kind of does the same thing when they’re young, no matter where they are from.
I really struggled with the sequencing of the book, so I just put it together with the photos in chronological order. The photos were in order of the times they were shot and I tried to stick to that as much as I could, and then rearranged it in a way that I thought looked more pleasing. I wanted to have it in order so that I could look through it and the photos were in the order that the events happened. I rearranged it in a way that it wouldn’t seem too repetitive.
In terms of self-publishing, I’ve just advertised the zine mostly on social media. I follow a lot of people who make zines and do this sort of thing, so there’s already an audience there. I want to get in touch with bookshops and try my luck there. I definitely want to try and get it out there.
A lot of the zines I looked into for research were black and white, mine is colour. I used colour film so I had the option to make the zine full colour or black and white. I was quite adamant at first to go with black and white to fit in with the stereotype of the zine and the original zine before colour was about, but when I tried both black and white and full colour, I preferred colour. Some of the colours came out quite nicely, I think it would have ruined it a bit if I put it in black and white.
That’s one thing I really like about film, the photos don’t always come out exactly how you want it. You get light leaks and the photos don’t always turn out how you think they will. When you get the negatives back, it could be completely different to what you saw. I like that about film, you have to work with what you’ve got.
I named the zine ‘Blame Your Parents’ because of the first photo inside. I took a trip to Brighton one weekend, I wasn’t planning on shooting for the zine but I shot on my mju ii with the zine still in mind anyway. I was walking though The Lanes and saw ‘Blame Your Parents’ spray-painted on the wall. I stood there for about 10 minutes waiting for all of the people there to move out of the way so I could get a quite shot, it was a busy weekend and there were a lot of people around. I got a photo of it and it fit in well with the zine and the youth culture aspect of it, so I put it in and name the zine Blame Your Parents.