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Shoot Film Co. — Interviews

Taylar Stauss: Musician, Photographer, and Mobile Darkroom Tech!

Taylar Stauss: Musician, Photographer, and Mobile Darkroom Tech!

Taylar Stauss Featured on ShootFilmCo

Easily the best part of ShootFilmCo is that I get to meet some of the greatest, most interesting artists doing the most unique work. When I came across was Taylar Stauss was doing, I had to talk to her and learn more about it.

She is photographer, musician, and she tours with a mobile darkroom! I'm going to turn it over to her to tell you all about it:

Tell us about yourself

I’m Taylar! I was born and raised in Nashville, TN and currently live here as well.

How did you get started taking photos?

I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember. My first camera was a little P&S that I took to school and parks and pretty much anywhere I could. I’d save my pocket money and get them developed at Walgreens. In high school and college I took disposable cameras to every single party. That’s more or less where my love for (and style of) candid, behind-the-scenes photography came from. It annoyed my friends to no end, but ten years later they’re all grateful that I did it because no one else in our friend group documented those moments.

Photo © Taylar Stauss

You're in a band: what's your musical background and how did that band come to be?

Yes! I’m the frontwoman for Peach. The band’s inception is a bit of a winding tale.

I actually have a pretty deep musical background. I was in choir for ten years, as well as musical theater and opera. I was professionally trained at UT Chattanooga for two years before switching to Music Business at MTSU. I quit singing about four years ago.

Peach was born out of a desperate need for catharsis. Last year I was blindsided by secrets my husband had kept from me that spanned the entirety of our relationship and led to our divorce. It was brutal. Despite my best efforts to keep our relationship alive, everything was ripped out from under me: my home, life, future, everything I knew.

I found all of this out three days before going on tour with Early Humans (the band I work most closely with). We had a run with West Means Home, and I found out that they lived about two and a half hours away in Florence, Alabama. Nashville was dead for me, and I was wasting away. I decided (rather rashly) to move to Florence. I figured if I was going to start over, at least I’d know a couple of people. One of West Means Home’s guitarists (Zack) and I became fast friends. We were hanging out at a friend’s house one night and, after generous amounts of whiskey, I decided to show him some things I’d written, and sang for the first time in a long time. We wrote a song that night, and within 2 months we formed Peach, wrote two more songs, and recorded the Peach EP with two members of Early Humans and our current drummer.

Taylar Stauss developing film on the road

If I’m being honest, the entire EP was kind of a big “fuck you” as well as the only healthy outlet I had for my horrifying grief. Back when we were first dating, my ex-husband and I were at a Hozier concert. I’m used to the DIY scene, and singing in general, so singing along to the music is my way of enjoying a show. I was asked, rather coldly, to stop singing because, “we came to hear Hozier, not you.” It was the first time in my life that anyone had asked me NOT to sing. It affected me so badly that I did stop. Completely. Until Peach.

Zack and I decided to part ways after West Means Home started gaining traction. He gave me his blessing to continue Peach without him, and to take the songs we’d been working on with me. I moved back home in February; Peach is now made up of myself, Ryan Vaniman, Adam Cox, and Zach Crooks. We’ve all been friends for over ten years, graduated high school together, have all been around each other during various musical pursuits, and never even thought about making music together. It was perfect timing; everything fell into place and we just enjoyed our full-band debut and EP release show in Nashville this past Wednesday. We’re currently working on a potential split, singles, and a full-length record. It’s really exciting and incredibly humbling. I never thought I’d do anything like this. I never expected anyone to care. I just needed to do something to get the poison out. The reception has been absolutely astounding.

Taylar Stauss developing film on the road

You've given yourself a very unique project: you're developing and scanning your own film on the road. What brought you to think of that?

Honestly, I hate digital photography. It’s necessary on the road to provide daily content for bands, but I don’t enjoy it. Film was my first love; I learned to shoot on a manual 35mm camera. I wanted to find a way to incorporate film on tour without having to wait for the end to send it off for development. I started compiling a list of gear I’d need to make it a reality about a month ago and just took the mobile lab on the road for the first time last week.

What challenges have you faced while shooting and developing on the road?

Mostly exhaustion, and forgetting essential pieces of gear. We’re in a van most of the day, I’m trying to catch film-worthy shots between shows and pleasure stops while also shooting digital photo and video. By the end of the night, wherever we’d end up, I was completely wiped and had to wait for everyone to use the bathroom, shower, do whatever before I could get in to develop and dry the film. Motivation was hard to find. My scanner isn't the greatest either, so it's difficult to get quality renderings of the film from time to time.

Being that it was my first tour with the mobile rig, I forgot a few things that were essential to the operation. We were three states away before I realized I had left my film reel in another developing tank. I tried developing a roll without one and ruined half of it. I also forgot a can opener, stop bath, a container to save my fix, and a USB-C adapter for my scanner. Thankfully most of it was easy to find; I ended up using rice vinegar as my stop bath and a friend of the band had a USB-C adapter. I wasted some fix, but otherwise it was alright. Huge shoutout to Safelight District (Chattanooga’s new community darkroom) for providing me with a reel. I was desperately searching for a solution after I left Atlanta’s only darkroom supply store empty-handed, found them, and reached out through Facebook. Turns out that their darkroom was right next door to that night’s venue, and they left a reel on the front steps for me. If anyone ever wonders what the film community is like, that’s a perfect picture of the love we share with one another.

Photo © Taylar Stauss

What gear/film are you shooting with?

I shoot with a Nikon FG-20 and a 50mm f/1.8 pancake. The FG-20 was my first camera, given to me by my dad three years ago. It’s still my daily shooter, despite having purchased and tried automatics (like my poor Nikon N80, which is collecting dust). I love that camera more than anything. I was shooting with a Sunpak 422D Thyristor flash, which got demolished the third day of tour. Thankfully we were able to stop through Atlanta on the road and I got myself a Nikon SB-16 Speedlight for $20. I’d wanted it for a while, so it was a very exciting purchase.

For this tour I shot on Ilford Delta 100 and Ilford FP4+. I’ve done C-41 development by hand, but because of the temperature requirements (and lack of experience) I just shot black and white. I’d REALLY like to figure out a way to get a Jobo on the road so I can do color as well.

What chemicals are you using?

Ilfosol-3 Developer, rice vinegar (1:4) for stop, and Ilford Rapid Fix. Typically I’ll use an actual stop bath or distilled white vinegar dilution, but since neither was available I found the most plain vinegar I could that had at least a 4% acidity. We stayed with one of the band member’s parents one night and raided the spice cabinet for that one.

For those who haven't developed their own film yet, any words of wisdom and encouragement?

Film is a temperamental, unforgiving, frustrating, incredible, and glorious art form; the lessons you learn from messing it up are, at times, extremely demoralizing. Don’t give up. Give it the time it deserves; the reward is in the wait.

I wasted my first ten rolls of film. I was loading my camera incorrectly and basically shot photos on the same frame over and over again without having a clue. The lab I sent it to (and my film mentor) emailed me to let me know, sent me ten rolls of his own stock, and told me to try again. I’ve never looked back.

Follow Taylar and Peach:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/t.e.film615 / https://www.facebook.com/abandcalledpeach/

Instagram: @t.e.film / @abandcalledpeach

Twitter: @tayladyy / @bandcalledpeach

Bandcamp: https://www.abandcalledpeach.bandcamp.com

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6f7WQhDA3f9u2dPeY17CsY

In The Frame: Photographer Hannah O'Brien

In The Frame: Photographer Hannah O'Brien

Black and white photograph of Gandy Street by film photographer Hannah O'Brien
All photos © Hannah O'Brien

I'm Hannah, I'm 24 and I'm a passionate photographer from Exeter, Devon; in the South West of England. Photography is my main passion in life and has been for quite some time now. Despite at times not being able to get out of the house to pursue my photography endeavours all of the time, due to being chronically ill the past 11 years with severe M.E, which unfortunately means that I'm bed bound 95% of the time. For that other small 5% when I'm hoisted into my wheelchair, I seize those opportunities more than anything and don't take a single moment for granted. I fill as much photography as I can in those outings and that time spent pursuing my passion means so very much to me.

I adore shooting film and everything that surrounds this way of capturing images. I've been interested in film photography for a long while now, but as my passion for photography in general has grown over the past few years, so has my intrigue for film. I love the personality and soul film photos have opposed to digital images, there's just so much more within the image that can be portrayed to the viewer. It's also so important to me how much film photography slows me down. Each and every shot on a roll is so much more valuable and I truly savour each of them, most especially when working with medium format.

Black and white photograph of Exeter Cathedral by film photographer Hannah O'Brien

The main camera I'm currently gravitating to is my Yashica Mat TLR. It happens to be my first medium format camera and I'm absolutely in love with this camera and the personality that oozes from it.
In regards to film I'm really loving Ilford FP4+ (in 120 specifically), as well Kodak Portra 400.

I'm submitting three images from the project I have recently completed, titled- 'Isca; The Eras Of Exeter', which is a piece of work that portrays the history the city I live in has over various eras in time, which is shown dominantly through architecture.
I was lucky enough to exhibit this project in a fantastic local arts festival this July in Exeter.

Black and white photo RAMM by film photographer Hannah O'Brien

It was all captured with my beloved Yashica Mat and the film used was; Ilford FP4+ and Kodak Portra 400.

Although, the three images I'm sharing where all taken with FP4+.

Apart from being shown at the local arts festival on July 8th, 2018, I haven't posted any of the images from this series of 10 photos myself online yet. And only one of them has been seen on social from being posted by the great site Your Exhibition.

I'm hoping to display the project again locally very soon and then make a series of print boxes that will be for sale on my website later in the year if all goes well.

In The Frame: Photographer Hope Roach

In The Frame: Photographer Hope Roach

chair in leaves with light leaks at bottom
All photos © Hope Roach. All rights reserved.
Hi, I’m Hope and I’m an eighteen year old film and digital photographer living in Columbus, Ohio. I started shooting my freshman year when I took an Intro to Photography course, never really thinking that it would stick. However my teacher became my mentor, friend, and father figure and helped guide me to expressing my thoughts into my photography. I have found a great love and appreciation for the world and my life because of photography. Photography allows me to cope with my anxiety, depression, and chronic illness in a healthy and positive way. I am so thankful to be able to continue my art throughout college at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Visual Communication majoring in Photojournalism. I am excited to go down a new path for my photography and see where it leads me.
backlit clouds against blue sky by Hope Roach
I love the intimacy of film. When I shoot film it’s such a personal experience that I can’t replicate with digital. The thought that it’s easy to mess up the exposure or get the angle wrong makes me really think about what I am doing, seeing, and shooting. After shooting comes developing which is my absolute favorite part of film. I love knowing that I am creating art with my hands, and that I can mess it up. The feelings that you experience when your film comes out or doesn’t are so overwhelming. I’ve cried and I’ve cheered over film, it all depends. Film is an intricate and interesting medium and I think that’s what I love so much about it.
lightbulbs
Of all the cameras I’ve shot I can say that I personally love my Olympus OM10 the most. It’s a small, quirky camera that is so much fun to just take out and shoot with. I think I love this camera so much because I’m so attached to it, I have shot over 25 rolls on it. I shoot color film, Fujicolor, Kodak Gold, Portra, Velvia, Ektar are some examples. I love shooting the world the way I see it so color film is an obvious choice for me. However I do love to edit my color photos to B&W when I’m feeling something a bit different in post than I was before.

I’m submitting some pieces from very different points in my photography and in my life. I have grown with my photography and have learned from it as well. Everything I shoot is for fun, to see the world through my eyes. I love this planet and I love documenting it.

In The Frame: Photographer Benedetto Manzella

In The Frame: Photographer Benedetto Manzella

black and white photo of Amenra guitarist by Benedetto Manzella

All Photos © Benedetto Manzella

 I was born and raised in San Pedro, California. Typically if I'm traveling, I might just say I'm from Los Angeles since San Pedro is a suburb of LA county but I feel like my perspective would be different if I grew up in what could be considered "Los Angeles" proper. While being a musician is my primary artistic pursuit(I've played drums for 15 years), I began an intentional pursuit of being a photographer about 9 years ago. My primary source of inspiration when making photos is concerts; I haven't been able to find a group of musicians to consistently work with over the years, and photography has allowed me a way of being more connected to the music I love. I make photos both out of a pursuit to document the concert for fans to relive the night after the fact, as well as a service to the artists who performed to possibly use for promotional purposes or as a keepsake/memory of a special time in their life. I also enjoy making photos when I travel, particularly in cities, and using my work as a way to show my observations of the world around me.

Black and white photo of The Great American Music Hall's marquis by Benedetto Manzella

Film is a lovely reminder that nothing is guaranteed in life. There is more room for error than you'd like to admit, but there is equal potential for capturing a photo in a way you never thought you would. In a time where the primary camera that people look to is in their cell phone, the joy of a film camera is endless. It disconnects you from the wired world and offers you a way of embracing a wonderfully aging tradition of documenting life as it happens.

My primary film camera is a Pentax K1000 and I love mine dearly. I hope to soon own a medium format camera, ideally one I use at shows but I'm still undecided as to what is the best camera for my creative goals. I mainly shoot black and white film and have grown to love motion picture film such as Cinestill's BWXX. There is a rich stillness in the photos I've made with this film that feels as close to what I intend to, and hope to, show the viewer.

Black and white photo of band Amenra by Benedetto Manzella

The three photos I've shared are from 3 days I spent with the Belgian "metal" band, Amenra. Along with listening to their music for the past decade, I've had the fortune of developing a friendship with the band starting back in 2016 when I was able to meet their guitarist Mathieu while I was studying photography in a short-term study program in Germany. I was able to take photos at 3 of their concerts in California while they were on tour and spend time with the band. While I believe all music has value, I am particular about the bands I work with and take photos of; bands such as Amenra are musicians that have influenced my approach to art as well as provided a soundtrack for a number of years in my life. With that in mind, my photos are an act of service and gratitude to my now friends who I hope to continue documenting for years to come.

In The Frame: Photographer Daniel Alvarez

In The Frame: Photographer Daniel Alvarez

football player kneeling by Daniel Alvarez
All Photos © Daniel Alvarez. All rights reserved.

I'm a photographer born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I got into photography at a very young age. My father was a photographer through the 80s doing portraits, weddings, and fine art photography. I remember spending time with him at a young age in the dark room. In highschool I took a photography class my school offered and played around with photography. Then when college time came around I decided to pursue a bachelors degree in media arts. Media Arts is just a fancy term for learning a little bit of everything art related. While in college I again took photography courses and sort of fell in love with it then but once college was done I stopped and was a bit burned out on the arts. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I came back to my first love. A friend of mine passed away in that time and I realized that I only had on shitty cellphone picture of he and I. That bothered me quite a bit and I decided to not ever let that happen again. I wanted to document everything, so I went back to photography and never looked back.

Man from back, staring at colorful balloons by Daniel Alvarez

There are different tools for different jobs. That being said I use several different cameras. My go to set up is my Leica m6 with a zeiss 35mm lens. I would say that I use the set up 90% of the time. I also have a Canon EOS 1V with a variety of different lenses depending on what I'm shooting. I also have a Yashica Mat 124g, an sx 70, a 600, and a land 100. All of these cameras were bought from my friends at Glass Key Photo in San Francisco I typically shoot Tri-X pushed to 1600, and portra 400. I do however love to experiment with different films. It just depends on my mood and what I'm shooting. I also love shooting expired film.

black and white photo of two people in masks at sporting event by Daniel Alvarez

The photos I've submitted were all shot with my Leica and a 35mm lens. Some are from working sporting events and some are from my every day life. My goal is always to tell some kind of story. For me, I think its important to try and have some kind of story, some interesting composition, or interesting light. Sometimes I nail it, some times I'm lucky, but I always try to do better the next time around. Thanks for looking!