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Ben Cottingham's life in lockdown

"These are a progression along the theme of familiar being unfamiliar during and coming out of lockdown. Using various techniques such as film soup, multiple exposure and developing colour film in black and white chemicals (scanned as colour). During this time, we went on regular walks to very limited locations and I wanted to look at ways of making the same repetitive subjects more interesting. This led me to purchasing a load of expired film and some chemicals to develop at home. This allowed me to experiment with souping the films and not worry about upsetting any labs."

See more of Ben's work on instagram at @benjcottingham

A/A:What got you interested in film photography versus digital?

BC: I was fortunate to be able to study photography at GCSE in the early 90’s and always dabbled a bit from then on. I know the early 2000’s I obtained an old Mamiya TLR and this really grabbed me and got me taking photos a bit more seriously. Around this time, for me digital was prohibitively expensive. The upfront cost of a decent camera, computer and software was just too much. Film was easier to manage as I could spread the cost. I have tried digital more recently but still find it a bit cold, particularly as I have become more hands on with the analogue process.

A/A: What inspires you in your work?

BC: I would say I’m inspired by curiosity, the thought of ‘what happens if I do….?.’ or ‘how will this photo come out if I try…?.’ I have also found that the more restricted I am the more creative I am. I commonly shoot old cameras, particularly Box Brownies, and I very much enjoy the process of getting to know a new old camera and finding out what it likes to photograph.

A/A: Have your themes shifted now that the covid restrictions have been lifted?

BC: Personally the covid restrictions were quite a creative time. The combination of time and being restricted led me to experiment a lot more. As the restrictions lifted and I was able to be out and about more, the familiar became unfamiliar as the places I knew where changed by an abundance of signage and a lack of people. Now that this seems to be behind us and things are more normal, I have struggled to be as creative. I have also recently changed jobs so things are a bit up in the air at the moment and I am traveling a lot less. I’m working on a couple of ideas which revolve around the idea restricting myself further and exposing direct to photographic paper so that I can only take a single photograph.

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