"Film exists forever! It’s physical"

Rosie Matheson is a 22 year old portrait photographer based between London and Brighton. She mostly shoots her work on a medium format camera mainly using Kodak Portra film.

How did you get into photography & what's a project you are currently working on. 

I was surrounded by photography from a young age due to my parents’ close friend being documentary photographer Zed Nelson and my Grandad worked for Kodak. I always had a camera in my hand and would shoot the world around me. I started to take it seriously around the age of 17 at sixth form college where I realised it was all I wanted to do. I’ve been shooting as a freelance photographer ever since I left education.

I’ve recently finished a personal project called ‘BOYS’ which I am preparing to exhibit. I started shooting these images late 2015, documenting how young men express themselves, capturing their emotions, looking at how they present themselves in everyday life. The project explores expressions of masculine identity at a moment when the subcultures which give young men a voice are increasingly invisible. Ultimately, the work is about people who don't realise how special and interesting they are, and whose faces tell their story. 

Why do you love shooting on film? 

I love that film looks like real life, the colours, light and depth it picks up on is incredible. You cannot get the same accuracy with colours with a digital camera. Film requires very little editing and to me, is the most honest way of capturing something. It’s about the longevity of the photo rather than the instant result. 

I enjoy having a limited number of frames and making sure I get exactly what I want out of a shoot rather than shooting thousands of empty and feelingless frames which I feel easily happens with digital. It’s not about shooting something you can review instantly - it’s about shooting photographs that will stand the test of time. 

I love most that it’s only about me and the subject in that moment. The privacy and intimacy you get with your subject which I feel results in an honest and revealing set of images. No one else can see what I’m shooting meaning I can carry out a shoot exactly how I believe it should go. 

Could you give me 3 reasons why analogue photography is timeless?

  • Its tangibility. Film exists forever! It’s physical, you can hold the negatives and see your images when held up to the light. 
  • Film has texture and personality to it. They’re full of feeling/emotion and carry a sense of nostalgia.
  • The consistency/reliability of film. It will forever stand the test of time without being dependent on digital trends. 

How do you think darkroom will help you as a professional photographer? 

It’s really important to learn traditional techniques and to understand how film actually works! I think it’s lovely and exciting having a community space to practice and get good at developing your own film as it’s rare for anyone to have these facilities at home.

It will help me as a professional photographer by allowing me the space and time to develop my own grading of colours, through thoroughly learning film developing techniques and creating a unique colour palette to my images. 

Why do you think it is important to have a project such as darkroom nowadays?

Darkrooms aren’t very accessible once you leave school or college, meaning those skills are often left behind or never learnt for some.

There's such a therapeutic and personal side to film photography and one everyone should be encouraged to learn. You really learn how the film works and its technicalities by bringing the photos to life yourself. Taking photos can be quite a private thing for some people and using a darkroom means the images are kept to yourself forever or until you decide to share them which I think could encourage more people to shoot film!

With the overwhelming use of technology in our everyday lives, the darkroom provides a space to create with your hands, materials and tools that are reliable - it’s a very rewarding process. 

Rosie Matheson Instagram / website  

by Alice Rizzo

Rosie Matheson