Whit Watts - American Film Photographer - Weekly Feature American Film Photographers

Hello, my name is Whit Watts ( @h0lgaboomer ). I am a forestry student and married father of two living in Georgia, USA. I generally shoot in black and white, and I almost exclusively use my Holga 120S in 120mm to do so. I am a rather inexperienced photographer, picking up from a five-plus year hiatus from photography since I kept pretty busy as a legionnaire in the French Foreign Legion.

This may be a bit cliche, but I fell in love with film photography at a young age while looking at old issues of National Geographic. I loved that warm analog feeling that radiated from each photograph. I would compare that to a more recent issue that was shot primarily in digital, and the latter would literally give me a headache. It just seemed like the digital photos had no soul.

I really began practising photography in earnest when I was 19 years old and my father lent me his Canon FT QL that he had used when he was young. Unbeknownst to me until that moment, he was actually a prolific photographer in the years before I was born. He also gave me the Holga 120S that I still use to this day. I worked as a pedicab driver in downtown Savannah at the time, so I really cut my teeth taking pictures of anything and everything that caught my eye between fares.

I’m a big fan of street photography, and just carrying around my camera whenever I can and snapping whatever piques my interest. I have a special preference for forgotten places that generally don’t get that much attention from photographers or from anyone in particular for that matter. For instance, I have a special attraction for strip malls — I try to bring a touch of humanity to these brutally impersonal non-places while attempting to convey the absurdity that a place like that makes me feel. Coming from a tourist town, I also have an affinity for the people working behind the scenes to maintain the illusion of the “Hostess City”. I tend to avoid things that I find to be too pretty, but I also shun the sensational “disaster porn” that can strip a subject of its own unique meaning.

To be honest, I’m not very big on equipment simply because I don’t have the money to spend on such a thing. Any money in my photography budget goes to film and chemistry. I just use my good ol’ Holga for most everything that I do. I did have a very nice Canon A1 that I loved, but the cost of the essential repairs to get it back up and running make me appreciate the simplicity of my Holga that much more.

I am a huge fan of Ilford’s Ortho Plus film. I am a sucker for slow film, so an iso of 80 is nice and slow while still being easy to shoot with — especially on a camera with only one shutter speed. Being orthochromatic, it lends a sort of gritty dream-like aesthetic to the photos. I absolutely love how the film captures the reflection of light on green leaves.

I don’t shoot all that much indoors, but I’d say that my favorite film for that would be Ilford Delta 3200. It has such a wide latitude, and I love how crisp and mellow it looks. I guess it’s kind of funny that the look of Delta 3200 is totally on the opposite end of the spectrum from Ortho Plus.

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