Profile: Will Reichelt
Sydney based food/music photographer Will Reichelt captures his subjects in the most beautifully surreal way, whether it be Pavement live or homemade bircher with poached pear. I spoke to Will about his recent collection, a series of Polaroids taken on a trip through America and all things snap happy…
A little about yourself and what you do:
I’m a supervisor in the live-action film visual effects department at Animal Logic. My role is to work with film productions to help plan and execute creative digital visual effects solutions for their shots. The planning usually starts before the shoot, and can extend right up until just before the film is released. In the last few years, I’ve had the chance to help recreate the twin towers for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, make digital cows for Baz Luhrmann’s Australia and help design the aliens for Knowing.
Talk us through the polaroids from USA:
I spent just over two weeks in San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Sequoia National Forest in northern California recently, on a business trip. I was required to attend a shoot for a job we’re working on at the moment that needed a lush, prehistoric landscape. During my brief pockets of downtime, I wandered about the place with my Polaroid SX-70 land camera. I decided that I would take all my “holiday snaps” with this camera, mainly because the process of taking a picture is so different to whipping out a pocket point ‘n shoot, or even using my usual DSLR – it takes longer, is more fiddly, requires more thought about the framing, and the high cost of the film is always in the back of your mind, so you’re not going to be too liberal with your shutter finger. I was using the expired TZ-Artistic film that you can buy on eBay or until recently, from The Impossible Project, and it’s taken me a little while to get used to the fairly basic exposure controls on the camera (scroll left for “bright”, right for “dark”) – I’m pretty happy with the results though.
How long have you been taking photos and what inspired you to start taking them:
It originally started with a love of live music, around five years ago. I took a photo at a gig that Interpol played at the Enmore Theatre in 2005 and got inspired by the creative challenge of taking photos under strict conditions – tricky lighting, three songs, no flash, etc. A few months later I took some shots at a few Sydney Festival Beck’s Bar gigs and sent them into BRAG, who published them. The local gig photographer community in Sydney are a fantastic source of inspiration also, a lot of whom I first met through the Flickr online community, and then later on at the actual shows. As I’ve gotten more and more into photography, I’ve started to veer away a little bit from live music photography and into other areas – food, portraiture, architectural, etc
What about live music and food is it that you love to photograph:
I just love live music, and it (almost) always looks interesting as well – it’s a challenge to try and capture it in a different way to normal. I’ve taken more than my fair share of clichéd music shots, and the challenge is always to find some unusual way of capturing the moment. Food photography is something I’ve gotten into through my partner, Lee Tran Lam who runs a food blog called The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Hungry. She’ll often get me to snap cafes, food, etc when we go out. The challenge with food is to make it look appetizing!
Which do you prefer, digital or film:
I like both, but I’m on a big film kick at the moment. I’m in love with my Polaroid SX-70, to the point where I’ve been leaving my digital camera at home and only taking the Polaroid with me on trips (ala the USA snaps). I also just did a band shoot using only my Canon 1V film camera (on Kodak Ektar 100 film), because I wanted the graininess and larger range in the blacks that film gives. That was pretty scary though, not being able to preview and make sure I was exposing correctly – I still brought my DSLR with me to take test shots.
What type of Polaroid film do you use for this series and what’s its appeal for you:
I used old expired TZ Artistic film from The Impossible Project for all the USA photos. I just like the faded, sharp but not crisp, messed-up colours of that film, and the way that the exposure is pretty much out of your control. I’ve recently started experimenting with their new PX Color Shadefilm, which is proving a little more difficult to handle, but it’s all part of the fun.
*NOTE: Impossible Project are no longer stocking, but ebay still has a few packs
When taking a photo for personal use, rather than work, what is it that you look for in a subject:
I’m just looking for people, places, situations etc that are unusual or interesting, and seeing if I can capture it. I definitely enjoy doing more candid, fly-on-the-wall photography rather than shoots where the subjects & lighting are controlled.