Episode 1 - Francis Broek
By Storm Simpson
Cape Town photographer Francis Broek’s journey began approximately three years ago when he picked up his now-girlfriend Juila’s camera to take a photograph of her at the beach.
He wanted more and as many do, rummaged through Gumtree for a second-hand camera.
“I hit someone up for an untested NikonFM10 with some zoom lens for a couple hundy,” he said, and he was hooked.
Broek’s Earliest film photo: Beach date with Julia, October 2018 (Kodak Colorplus 200). All images courtesy of the artist.
“Film may be expensive but finding a sweet deal on an old unloved camera somehow creates an immediate sentimental bond and motivates you to make the most of it,” said Francis, explaining why he prefers celluloid.
Using a mechanical camera forced him to develop an appreciation and understanding of how photographs are made.
The tangibility of film is another drawcard for Francis, who isn’t satisfied with mere pixels and spends hours enlarging the memories collected in his negatives into darkroom prints.
“I’ve found photos do a fantastic job of keeping memories very real and fresh in mind,” he said.
Last of the roll in Hermanus, October 2020 (expired ’98 Fuji Superia 400).
Most of Francis’ photos were made with 35mm cameras — his Minolta SRT10 single-lens reflex or the compact half-frame Chaika II.
He recently upgraded to a Minolta XM, which was the most advanced SLR available at one point in time, and says he’s “super stoked with it so far.”
“Everything isn’t black and white, but for me it might as well be,” is a quote often attributed to the legendary street photographer, Bruce Gilden, whom Francis lists as an inspiration and it seems he’s taken this to heart when looking at his monochromatic work.
When asked for a piece of advice he wishes he knew before he began shooting film, he said: “Don’t be a smartarse. It doesn’t help to be cheap when it comes to expired black and white film.”
Broek’s Favourite photograph by himself: Shopkeeper on the phone, August 2019 (Ilford HP5+).
As a contemporary photographer interested in capturing the minutiae of daily life, Francis is excited by the fact that “the best photo is around the corner,” as he puts it, and a desire to prove his ability.
“Knowing I can do better but not having the photos to show for it definitely motivates me to get out,” he said, with a laugh.
The streets aren’t always kind to photographers — Francis said his camera has been snatched out of his hands on several occasions and situations escalate because most people don’t understand that film photographs cannot simply be deleted.
“My worst was getting detained by police in a blocked-off street after taking a photo of them arresting suspects,” said Francis.
“It took a lot of negotiating and a few phone calls to get my camera back and I was very lucky they couldn’t work out how to open it up!”
Despite this, he maintains that wholesome encounters with strangers heavily outweigh the bad experiences.
Yoshi sleeps, March 2020 (Ilford HP5+).
Francis has several projects in the pipeline — he’s in the process of launching an online shop with Julia for their passion project, Don’t Try Anything New, which will feature a collaborative zine highlighting different artists.
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this but I’m starting on something for a small publication. I can confirm it will be made up of screen printed and riso-printed photos,” he said.
He is also in the process of going through his dad’s old black and white negatives and making prints.
“Feels great giving back old memories to my parents and reminds one how important archiving is,” said Francis.
Justin in the darkroom, October 2020 (expired ’98 Fuji Superia 400).
On behalf of thatgoodhour, we want to extend a big thank you to Storm Simpson, the Journalist involved in creating questions and the general structuring of this blog post. His Instagram handle is @outgettingribs and we highly recommend following his page along with the great things he will most certainly be doing in the future