Featured Photophile, our recurring segment showcasing talented amateur photographers, is back. Today we’re spotlighting a young photophile named Max Bevill. Max recently took a trip and asked my opinion on which cameras he should bring along. The man has some serious machines, but after some quick deliberation we decided he had to bring the Fuji TX-1 (which many of you may know as the Hasselblad X-Pan).
He’s back from that trip and has brought some photos with him. Here’s a sampling, and a look into yet another modern film shooter’s philosophy.
Hey Max – introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Max Bevill, and I am a senior at the United States Naval Academy, soon to commission into the U.S. Navy. In May I will leave Maryland and head down to Pensacola, Florida for approximately two years of flight school. Thanks for having me!
When did you start shooting? What’s your favorite camera, and why do you love it? What type of film do you use, and why?
I started taking photos in middle school with a tiny blue digital camcorder that was, and still probably is, the best Christmas gift I have ever gotten, and in high school I bought a refurbished Canon Rebel XS. I took this with me on a couple of trips to Europe and got hooked on taking images that I felt accurately communicated the way I felt in being among these incredible and beautiful historic locations. But I think my favorite camera is my Minolta X-700. My dad shot with it while I was growing up, but it was left unused throughout the early 2000s. I picked it up a couple of years ago and realized what so many people before me already knew – you don’t have to have an incredibly complex or expensive camera to be able to create stunning images.
I have two X-700s now, and I love shooting with them. Black-and-white film is my favorite, specifically Tri-X. I haven’t had a chance to shoot with any Ilford HP5 but I’m planning on trying it out very soon! Black-and-white films have a look that I try so hard to simulate digitally, so I love shooting in monochrome. It forces me to think about convincing compositions and images that are interesting because of their texture and quality of light. In general, I think film forces me to take better photos!
What are your favourite subjects, and why?
I mostly do portraiture, and for a long time people were the only subject I was interested in photographing. I have a huge appreciation for photographers who are able to capture landscapes and architecture, and I am trying to improve my skills in those genres. I have to get out there with a camera and do some more practice! I’m a very extroverted person, so taking pictures of the people who are important to me is something that I love to do. My relationships with others are the things that energize me, and there is nothing better than being able to look at a portrait and honestly say that you have captured the subject’s real character.
Why do you shoot film? Do you also shoot digital? How would you explain the differences between film and digital?
I shoot film for a lot of reasons. The idea of having a physical remnant of a moment in history is something that drives me to use film more often in my shooting. Outside of the notion of the historical significance of a piece of exposed film, the fact remains that most modern digital cameras today are unable to create images with the same range of tones as analog photography. I love being able to capture bright white highlights and dark shadowy detail in the same frame.
Most of my work is done with a digital camera, but the habits that an electronic viewfinder and display have ingrained in me have stunted my artistic growth. Sitting down with a developed roll of film and seeing your work for the first time (long after the picture was actually taken) is an experience that is afforded to film photographers and lost on those who shoot only in digital. The delayed gratification of finally seeing your work and the greater focus on composition and light were new experiences for me, coming from a digital photography background.
I think the argument between film and digital is useless. Both are valid. Just like an artist can choose to use pastels or watercolors, or a musician can record on vinyl or digitally, photographers have the ability to use different media for different effect. I think that people everywhere should try both, but it’s not a bad thing to be fully digital or fully analog. The goal of photography should be the effective expression of the person behind the camera.
What’s unique about your work?
That one is hard. I don’t know if there is anything unique about my work besides the very fact that it is mine. The things that I take photos of and the way in which I take those photos is a product of who I am and what I know. I hope that my photographs communicate my emotions. In these photos of India I hope that I captured feelings of crowds, and smells, and noises, and everything that I experienced while I was there. I want people to look at my images and not only see beauty, but to feel the things I felt.
How do you achieve your results?
I watch a lot of YouTube, I read tons of photoblogs and websites (CP being at the top of the list for analog photography 😉 ), and I talk with other people who are devoted to making convincing and effective images, in order to get my results. I have a TON to learn, but I’m learning through doing. I haven’t been shooting with film for that long, so I have a long way to go until I consider myself learned or experienced, but I achieve my results through a lot of practice and failure; it’s just like anything else in life!
Where do you hope your photography goes from here?
I hope that people see my work and appreciate it. I don’t need popularity, or for people to recognize me, but I hope they enjoy the images that I capture. It would be wonderful to have a second career (after my Naval service) as a photographer, but we will just have to see if that materializes or not! For now, I plan on having a camera with me at all times.
Do you have any advice for new photographers?
Don’t ever go into debt to buy a camera. I am just getting over a terrible bout of gear acquisition syndrome (G.A.S.) that led me to make some poor (but not damaging in the long-term) decisions with my money. Use the tools you have to show the world what you can do and don’t be drawn into the trap of thinking that better gear will automatically improve your photography. Better gear doesn’t equal better images.
Shoot often. Keep working until you can make the images that you want; don’t let your photography be lackluster! I have to remind myself to slow down and think about not just how I am shooting, but also why I decide to take the images I do. Being mindful of your work, just like practicing mindfulness in your everyday life, will help you excel!
See more of Max’s photos via Instagram.
[All images used with permission]
Many thanks to Max for sharing his work here. If you’d like to have your photos featured on Casual Photophile, tag your photos with #featuredphotophile on any social media post, or send a message to Contact@FStopCameras.com.