In September we welcomed Edinburgh-based emerging photographer Kendal Fewster to Canister to present her project In Between and to discuss her photographic process and plans for the future, she even bought along her large format camera. For those that couldn't make it we had a short chat beforehand:
Hi Kendal, welcome to Canister...
When was the first time you picked up a film camera? What was it and how did it make you feel?
The first film camera I ever picked up was actually those small 35mm disposable cameras you would buy for your holidays. I loved not knowing what my pictures would look like until a couple of weeks later and when they came back from getting developed I would always be amazed at the colours in the images. This is where my passion for photography originally started and from then on I went to study it at university. The first film camera I ever used at university was a medium format Bronica. I remember the day when we were showed by the technician how to load the film, how to take pictures and then how to develop it ourselves. The assignment was to shoot a portrait of a classmate and I remember going through several rolls of film before finally getting one image in focus. But when I got it right it was the most amazing, and rewarding feeling I had felt.
Who is your favourite living photographer? Tell us why.
My favourite living photographer is definitely Stephen Gill, who works with experimental, conceptual and documentary photography. I admire so many of his series but my favourite would have to be Billboards. He manages to see the complex issues in daily life and photograph it in such a simplistic, and usually humorous way. His images are always so stunning.
Tell us about your project In Between.
In Between explores the notions of division and isolation within communities caused by socioeconomic and demographic changes, as well as environmental transformations.
The series focuses on the area of Pilton in Edinburgh which, despite its efforts at regeneration and gentrification, is still plagued by its negative stigma from the past due to a rivalry between its East and West subdivisions.
Sitting between these two subdivisions is a community that does not associate itself with either side. In fact, this disassociation goes further as the community does not identify itself with Pilton at all. Despite being just a stone’s throw away from both the East & West, the community instead identifies itself with the main road that runs through the centre: Crewe Road North.
I explore the relationships between nature and the built environment to highlight the physical and emotional partitions which separate the Crewe Road area from its Eastern and Western neighbours.
And what brought about the decision to shoot the project entirely on large format film?
I originally started shooting the project using medium format film and fell in love with the result. But my intentions for this series was always to display the final images large, to have an impact and to show as many details as possible within the frame, so I moved from medium to large format and shot all of the final images on 5x4 Portra 400.
Was the choice of film important to you? Was cost involved in the decision?
The choice to shoot on film was very important to me. I wanted to really test my skills throughout the project and push myself as much as possible and using large format really did this. It also allowed me to speak to people in the street and get to know the locals better as they would always stop for a chat if they saw the big equipment. It certainly had its downfalls and cost came into the conclusion a lot. At the beginning I tried to save money by buying cheap film but learnt my lesson very quickly when I discovered that my developed negatives had X-Ray lines. I had several other boxes of failed film, due to problems in the developing stages so I shot a lot of my test images digitally to save on costs. But this only reinforced my original decision to shoot on film so from there on, I put the costs aside, picked up some extra shifts at my part time job, and made sure that all of my images were shot on 5x4.
Is the project now complete? What are your plans for In Between?
The issues that I touch on in the series, about disassociation and separation within communities is due to human nature. Therefore, I beleive that this project speaks about more than just Pilton, Edinburgh. I think that the issues are relevant all over Britain, so I would love to continue with it over the years, creating new chapters of ‘In Betwen’ in different cities. But for now, the Pilton chapter is closed and I want to develop some other work before moving on to the next chapter of In Between.
And what’s next for you now?
For now, I have graduated from University and will be spending the next year travelling. I think that In Between will always be in the back of my mind as I discover new cities and towns however my main focus is to produce new portraiture and documentary work.
All images © Kendal Fewster 2017