You have such an expansive portfolio which includes analogue portraits, landscapes and concert photography. How did you start your photographic journey and what made you focus on those genres of photography?
Going back to where it probably all started was when I took my Dad’s analogue Pentax on Grade 8 camp. The photos (Which I still have) were terrible, but it sparked me to start playing more with cameras in my teenage years and into college. We did a module of photography during my Interactive Design course that gave me a better understanding of cameras and composition but, past that point, it’s all been experimentation and taking photos to try create stories/capture moments whilst going to new places. This is where I felt shooting film always did it best. I’ve also always been more into taking landscapes to try and encapsulate nature and its beauty, so it has only really been more recent that I have delved into the field of portraits and concert photography. Each has its own challenges/rewards but I now find that they can all work together in a little ecosystem that constantly inspires the other, and makes me want to shoot more and more.
I’ve seen a big focus on analogue photography in your work. What differentiates you from other photographers shooting in film?
That’s a tough question that I guess I’ve never really defined. I try create moments of wanderlust in my photos, photos that hopefully evoke a good feeling and reaction within those who view them. Steering more towards positive/ beautiful and fun than a serious subject matter. I guess at the end of the day it’s my perspective or my eye rather that truly captures the moment and differentiates me from another person shooting the same format.
On this note, what is analogue photography to you in comparison to digital photography?
Analogue for me is experiential. There’s no lies or tricks, a good shot is a good shot. It has this mysterious allure and quality that is hard to replace and I feel it best works for me in terms of the photos and feelings I want to put out creatively in this medium. Digital is more business. It has it’s time, place and construct. You get some amazingly creative and brilliant people who strictly shoot digital, but for me as a non-professional photographer, imperfections and single moments are more real and pure than anything else.
What gear have you relied on during your progression as a photographer?
It started with my Dad’s Pentax that he got on his 21st and passed down to me. Then a mix of point-and-shoots, an array of hand-me-down film cameras, a stint with a Canon DSLR and now my one true love, my analogue Canon 1N.
Are there any films and songs that have inspired or inspire your shooting process?
I wouldn’t say any films or songs that I can think of off the top of my head, but there’s this one particular video that makes me go “YESSS”.
Do you enjoy taking long walks on the beach?
If it includes a swim in the sea at some point, then yes.
Do you swipe right more than left on Tinder because you are the life of the party?
Tinder scares the shit out of me.
Are you starting up any photographic projects at the moment?
Zines, zines and zines! Over the past year I’ve been fascinated with collecting zines, zine culture and the whole creative thought process around self-publishing. I’m professionally a graphic designer, so this playground is the perfect place to cross over the two mediums and experiment. We’ve got so many ideas in the woodwork, 2016 will be the year these will all see the light.
Can you tell me about any great moments you’ve had as a photographer?
2015 on a whole has been one big great moment. I fell in and out of love with film photography pre-2015, but I then got my hands on my new camera at the beginning of this year and it’s sparked something new and great in me to want to shoot more all the time. I definitely think this new energy is coming across in my shots that I’ve taken more recently too. I’ve also been given so many great opportunities to shoot Al Bairre around the country on tour, seeing/shooting new places I’ve never been and meeting great people along the way. Those have definitely been some of my favourite moments on those trips – which I’m super grateful for.
Which local and international photographers inspire you?
With a platform like Instagram, there’s so many people that are constantly inspiring me on a daily basis on my feed that it is SO hard to not have a paragraph of names here. So I’m going to try and narrow it to 4 people each that inspire me to push myself to shoot better. (This is tough)
Where can we find more of your work?
Hopefully by the time you read this my new website will be up at http://samwells.co.za, otherwise check back in in a month and it should be there for my graphic design work.