16. Oktober 2020 (IG-Chat)

"Hey Moritz, hope you’re good! Wondered if you guys would be up for a little project this winter? There’s a little stretch of coastline near me that is pretty remote I want to walk it with camera and surfboard and see if any of the waves are surfable...."

Ilford HP5 +1


There is something beautiful about loading a roll of film into an old camera. A camera as old as you and a practice that goes back centuries. There’s something about pressing the shutter and hearing the sound as it clacks open and shut above the shriek of the gulls, the howling wind and the roar of the waves. There’s something nerve-racking about unloading the film in a darkened room and rolling it a spool and into a developing tank. Pouring in the chemicals and making sure the temperature is correct. Then washing the film, pulling off the lid and pulling from the spool. And It’s only now that you realise if you have what you wanted/expected as you squint at each frame as it hangs drying.

I’ve wanted to shoot more film for a long time, but there is always an excuse. I’ll miss too many, my kit is too heavy, too large, film is too expensive etc etc. But this weekend I had no expectations, if all my rolls were blank I’d still of had a great surf to remember. And there amongst the films hanging in the bathroom I could see perfect waves looking back at me, tones and shadows all reminding me of prowling the cliffs framing and double checking settings, not perfect photos, but perfect waves. I always loved the sentiment of what the esteemed war photographer Don McCullin said; ‘Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.’

On the drive home I tell myself I’ll shoot more, I’ll learn to capture the scenes I see but on film and I’ll develop and print them myself, learning from my mistakes. In April the season is coming to a close but next winter is a new story and I can’t wait to prowl this coast again with a few rolls in my pockets on a thumping North swell.

Find out more about Chris' work: CHRIS MCCLEAN-INSTAGRAM