Dawn Chapman

Published 30/8/2016


Tell us a little bit about yourself and what got you into photography?

Hi! I'm Dawn, a 35mm film photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. I picked up my first SLR camera when I was in high school and never looked back. I loved the darkroom and the physical process of developing my own film. I remember being completely enchanted with this new creative medium that let me capture all these ideas that were in my head, and eventually I went on to study photography at university. I guess I still feel that enchantment today or I probably wouldn't keep doing it!

What do you enjoy most about film photography?

The process is definitely a big part of it. I moved to digital when I was at university because I felt it was a necessary step if I wanted to be a part of the commercial world but I just felt bogged down by sorting through thousands of files, and the amount of editing I felt I had to do. I stopped feeling inspired because I was just churning out images without really enjoying the process. Just over a year ago I sold my DSLR and went back to film. For me it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not having an LCD to check your composition I think causes you to become much more considered. It helped me to slow down and really think about what I want to capture in an image.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The world around me. Natural landscapes that leave me in awe, or the way light hits something. And other photographers, of course. I spend a lot of time browsing Instagram and Flickr because I love seeing what other people are creating.

What are some of the challenges you face as a film photographer when travelling?

Running out of film! That's a big one. Some places don't have much of a market for it and it can be hard to find. But other than that I actually prefer travelling with film. Though I'd hate to loose a lens, my camera isn't and doesn't look expensive, so I don't feel as much anxiety about my gear. Plus when I'm not taking thousands of images, as I used to do with digital, I find I have more time to spend in the moment just enjoying the experience.

What do you shoot with?

Normally I use my Nikon f50, which I've had since high school, with a 28mm f/1.8G. I also usually carry a nifty 50, and my tripod with Benro BH1 ballhead.

What about other bits and pieces you packed to take away with you that you recommend other budding photographers/travellers pack?

A spare battery. This is especially important if you're shooting film and your camera takes an unusual battery! Also some sort of camera wrap, because you'll want to take your camera with you everywhere and being able to safely store it in your day bag is really handy. The Domke ones are great! I also took my ONA Palma bag on my last trip overseas, and this was ideal - a camera bag that doubles as a handbag.

Of the places you've been, what's your favourite place to visit?

I love both Italy and Greece. The colours of the buildings, the incredible blue water, and golden hour there is spectacular.

It's easy to spend all your time behind a camera while travelling - how do you manage to balance your work as a photographer with spending time actually experiencing the locations you visit?

This is a big part of what I love about shooting film! You take your time capturing one or two photos, and then you're back in the moment. You just have to trust that they'll turn out. No scrolling back through them, no editing on the go. You take an image, and you're done.

What lies ahead for you and your work as a photographer?

I'll continue shooting film and see where it takes me. I'd love to work with more brands and other creatives, do more travelling, and keep learning. I feel like I've finally found and embraced 'my style' so I'd like to keep exploring that.

For anyone that wants to see more of your work, where can we find you?

You can find me on Instagram @dawnchapmanphoto and at www.dawnchapmanphotography.com

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