F E L I X R U S S E L - S A W.
20th April 2020
As we travel together through these challenging times, we explore Felix Russel-Saw's views on the world right now. This beautiful project of his portrays exactly what we are experiencing and how we are all on the same boat. Enjoy.
Q: Hi Felix, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
What's up! I'm a professional photographer living in Bristol UK, I shoot a mix of lifestyle, commercial and fashion work across various formats both film and digital. I've been photographing for about 12 years now but doing it full time for myself for the last 4 or so. It kinda started as a hobby but as time went on it’s just slowly turned into my job. I still class it as my hobby though as I get just as much enjoyment from it every day.
Q: Why do you shoot in analog?
There are a few answers to this I feel, the purist to me follows Annie Leibovitz’s take on it with photography always being a chemical. Being able to create images from nothing and bring it into a physical realm using nothing but science.
Technology is making things boring these days, you always hear of someone's grandad giving them a box of film and some old cameras. What is our generation gonna leave behind? A USB stick? I want to have something to show when I’m 6ft under.
Q: Why and when did you first start shooting in analog?
Truth be told, I actually was shooting digital for many years before I bothered with film. When I got into film, it was new and exciting to me. Digital was very what you see is what you get, film was experimental and different. Getting the image you had in mind on film was more of a challenge and the sense of satisfaction when you nail it is so much sweeter.
Q: In light of what the world is going through right now and with England being in lockdown, how are you finding it, not only as a creative but as a human being?
It's just weird isn’t it? I still don't know what we are going to make of it all, the real impact will be in 6 months, a year or more down the line. It's pretty terrifying being self-employed and having basically all my income put on hold. I'm not getting beat up about it though, no amount of preparation could have gotten anyone ready for this and we are all in the same boat. I'm just seeing things in a different light, checking things off my list I should have done a long time ago. Taking time to reflect and enjoy my own city.
Q: Have you been developing at home? If so, Is this something you did before the lockdown? Can you give some advice to people developing at home?
I have done a little bit in the past, I have the equipment to do it all and will get back to doing it again, however, I live literally down the road from one of the UK’s best labs (shoutout to Photographique) and I’m very friendly with them so it's hard to get my shit together and process myself again. I've always scanned myself however, but it's nice being able to give the guys a heads up and have my negatives back within like a half-hour.
Q: As you have said on your Instagram you took these images during your ‘daily allocated exercise.’ Did you plan these images in any way? For example which person you would photograph on each day or was it merely random?
There wasn’t much method to it all, they are all friends from around the city so while I was out I'd just head to 2 or 3 people who lived in the same area. Bristol is a surprisingly small city and nice to get around by bike so if I didn’t get anyone that day It was easy to head out the following day.
Q: How have you been stimulating your creativity whilst on lockdown?
I've actually been somewhat more engaged with photography since the lockdown in the weirdest way. I've been seeing much more value to my time outside as its so limited. Basically any time I’ve left the house, I've had a camera on me for a more journalistic approach.
Q: Has this project shone any light into your photography? Do you take in the little/simple things more than you did before?
Yeah, it's weird, I'm a fairly antisocial/introverted person to be completely honest, going out and doing these tiny portraits have been good for me because it's been the right amount of socialising for me not to feel burnt out. 10 minutes or so with a small chat through a window to catch up with a friend is perfect. Not feeling socially hostage where I have to stick around for a cup of tea haha.
Q: If you weren't in quarantine right now what would you be doing?
Funny you ask that actually, today is my birthday (April 20th) I was supposed to be in Japan with my girlfriend on a work holiday thing. So I’d like to think Id be sipping Sake under cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Can't win them all I guess.
Q: What advice, if any, would you give to creatives who are struggling with the world’s current conditions?
Now is a better time than ever to grind, its a level playing field. We are going to all come out of this with a fresh set of eyes. Shoot at home, do some still life, catch that sunrise and work on your website or blog. Build something great so you can put it under the people's noses who matter when we come out of this. They will be interested.
Q: The conditions at the moment are not good, but if you were to look at the positive side, is there anything you can take from this situation?
Going back to just seeing more value in my time. I'd never usually take my camera to the shops or just down the road, and honestly I'd rarely shoot in my city. Seeing it in a different light has re-kindled that care for documenting it all over again.
Q: Finally, what or who inspires you?
This is a hard one. I'm really not sure but I am at the same time. It would be stupid not to say, my friends. I've not a whole load of friends in the city, with most of them living overseas or the other side of the country. Seeing what they are doing and how they are documenting their slice of this mental time makes me feel how important it is to be doing mine. A handful of people that I think are doing something real special right now is my close friend Ryan Winterbotham (@ryanwinterbotham) and internet friend Atticus Radley (@atticusradley).