Guy Mills, @guy.mills, is a film photographer based in Durban, South Africa. Mills talks to us regarding his beginnings with film and when his love for photography started in our second episode of the series “local photographers”. When Mills was 14 he started becoming captivated with making pictures. He was drawn to film from the beginning of his love for photography because of its sudden increase in trendiness. However, as is the case for most of us, money played an unfortunate role in slowing down his young dream. With his parents not being too keen on dropping too much money on his new passion, they advised him to start on digital if he was really that serious about it. He didn’t, though. So 2 years later he revisited the idea of photography and a year, or so, later took a step in the right direction and bought a film camera. He picked up a “janky ass” Olympus trip for “200 bones”. That was in 2017. He also gives a shoutout to his friend Mason, who hooked him up with some expired Kodak Colourplus.
“First ever film photo”
Stock: Expired kodak colour plus. 2017.
A big thank you to Guy for answering our questions, below you can find his answers to the interview. Enjoy!
Honestly, because it’s fun and it gets you clout lol. This is not the reason I like to shoot film though. As cliche as it is, the slower process and intentionality is a beautiful thing. The tactility of analogue is something that our generation has missed out on and discovering the satisfaction of it is such a cool thing.
What is your favourite film stock? Why?
Lol I may as well just lean into the film photography cliche’s here. Portra 400 cannot be beaten. I can’t add too much more. Everyone knows it and everyone loves it. But I also really love HP5 and colour plus. More recently though, kodak gold has been giving me fuzzy feelings 🙂
What camera do you use?
Primarily just a k1000. I’m a student and as much as a dream of Leica’s and Contax’s, the old girl does the job. Also have a couple of other point n shoots and a Yashica mat, though I don’t shoot it as much as I would like because I’m broke and 120 is a bank account murderer.
What are some of your favourite lenses? Why?
I love 28mm and 35mm. Pretty much exclusively shoot with these a ndI think these focal lengths give me the best perspective to create what I see when I look at a scene. I think most lenses do an almost indistinguishable job on 35mm. Though I would give my left nut to try a 35mm Summilux lol. Also really love the lens systems for Mamiya and Pentax medium format, though I have zero personal experience with them
I shot an expired roll that turned out to have already been exposed. So my photo’s double exposed on a random family’s holiday photos from like 30 years ago or something lol. “Who is that? I don’t remember taking a photo of that person”
Stock: Expired Fuji pro 200. Year: 1990 something x 2018.
Which photo lab is your favourite? Why?
Cape Film Supply. Because they’re the best.
Describe your work in one sentence.
A mixed bag of mostly dumpster trash but sometimes they’re kinda pretty.
Do you think your identity is reflected in your work? If so, explain how.
For the most part, I don’t think so. I wish it did show through more but I also think that the photos that do reflect it are one’s that I don’t tend to share publicly. I have a whole archive of personal photographs that I choose to keep just for myself and perhaps it’s in those that my identity show’s through more. I love to document my family and the things I do but these are separate from the Instagram HEAT lol. It’s a process though, I’m still learning.
What inspires you? E.g. personal experiences, other artists, your environment?
Other artists for sure. I love studying other peoples work and learning from them. I also draw a lot from non-photography things though. I love looking at design and paintings and find them useful for practical understanding of natural elements and composition. It’s really a mixed bag.
What motivates you to keep shooting?
Progress and development, I guess. Also the fear of missing out on the possibility of moments that won’t happen again. And it’s fun. Nothing hits quite like an evening photo walk with your boys.
Just a recent favorite. It would be impossible to choose an all time favorite.
Title: “Underberg Powerline”. Stock: Portra 400. Year: 2021
Walk us through your typical shoot day
Link up with a friend (or sometimes by myself), drive somewhere and go for a walk. I don’t think I really have much more of a process than keeping my camera with me and just shooting what I like.
Are there any particular experiences (good or bad) while shooting that you remember?
My friend and I got mugged by a group of guys with knives while shooting downtown in Durban. Luckily we didn’t have any valuables on us and they didn’t want our stone age cameras lol so they just ran off. My friend also attained major street cred when his Leica got recognized.
All mediums have their ups and downs, what are the most rewarding and challenging things about working with film for you?
There ain’t no better feeling than when you get that email from CFS. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to go and shoot and sit through the process of waiting until you finally receive the info that your roll did not in fact come out completely blank haha. Challenges- it makes me not able to afford anything else, ever. Also sucks when you shoot the same photo on your phone and then your scans come back and the iPhone photo is better
How do you select your subject matter?
Whatever catches my eye. It’s normally based on light, colour, or composition within a scene.
Where is your favourite place to take photographs?
My neighbourhood. The Drakensberg is a close second though.
People really seemed to like this combo lol.
Title: “Mcdonalds Parking lot”. Year: 2020. Stock: iPhone *shudders*
When is the best time to take photographs?
12 am/pm. Jk can’t go wrong with golden hour.
Do you shoot consistently or only when inspiration hits?
Mixed bag. Sometimes I go weeks without shooting anything intentionally. It comes in waves.
How many rolls do you go through in a month?
Lol maybe like 1-3. Depends on the month and how much money I have. I also do shoot a fair bit of digital though so that fills in the gaps.
You just got your roll back from the lab, what’s the first thing you do?
Get my hopes up and then immediately get disappointed.
What is your post-development process?
Crank those Lr sliders bb.
If you could shoot any place, at any time in the past or future, where and when would it be?
I would go hiking with Ansel Adams or stalk Alec Soth on his journey along the Mississipi and yoink his comps.
How has your work changed since you started shooting?
I used to shoot people a lot more. My work seems to have shifted and I find that I like the solitude of photographs with no people in them. I find that I am a lot more focused on composition rather than the speed of a moment.
I took this photo while my family was staying in my Grans house in the days before she passed away. It was a surreal time of joy and sadness.
Title: “Grans House”. Year: 2019. Stock: Fuji XE-3 (digital)
Questions by Storm Simpson, @outgettingribs