A special interview today, with one of my closest friends, and frequent partner-in-photographic-crime. Tom Pritchard, also known as Patching Tom in music circles, lives in Norwich and writes some of my favourite electronic music. From down-tempo, minimalist chillout to wobbly bass-filled acid, Tom’s back catalogue is extensive and varied. He also explores photography through a variety of toy cameras, which I’ve grilled him about below.
How did you get into photography? What was your first camera?
Back in 2009 I bought a Sony A200 DSLR. Apparently Sony cameras are frowned upon but I saw one going pretty cheap second hand and figured as a total novice it was a good bet – I got a lot of use out of it! As a musician I wanted to try a different hobby that would make a for a nice alternative whenever I needed a break from music.
Do you have any major photography influences?
For the most part I stumbled into photography without knowing much about it, I tend to draw inspiration from the places and people around me more than anything else. Your work, particularly the stuff you let me and my friend Adam Fielding use as cover art for our collaborative Neffle project, piqued my interest in film and toy cameras (ahh, you’re too kind – Ed.).
What themes do you follow in your photography, if any? What do you feel unites your work?
Intimacy is really important to me, especially when it comes to portraits. I try to show people as I see them, so my work is deeply personal. My aim is to create images that are timeless, sometimes ethereal, but that are still very natural.
Which camera setup is your favourite, and why?
I have three toy cameras that I switch between regularly, but if I had to pick a favourite it’d be the Recesky DIY TLR. There is nothing to adjust other than the focus, so to get the most out of it you have to find the right light and ask people to shift about a bit. It has a plastic lens which is just magic. It has a really nice depth of field and is surprisingly sharp when focused, but the outer rim of the lens has some odd blurry stuff going that looks really cool. Everything comes out of it with this wonderful dreamy quality.
Among your work, which is your favourite shot and why?
I’ve done a few portraits that came out really well, it’s hard to pick one as there’s a handful that stand out. These photos of my gran, and my friends Adam and Rick all really capture what I see in them. The stuff I’m happiest with are those that draw upon my connection with someone or to a particular place.
Is there a technique or subject you’d like to explore, that you haven’t yet?
It’d be great to experiment with long exposures. One of my toy cameras, the Diana Mini, has a bulb mode, so at some point I want to try to take some photos of suburban areas at night. There is something quite desolate and haunting about these empty spaces and I’d love to capture some of the areas that still have older street lights before they’re replaced with newer LED ones.
What are your photography plans for 2017?
I’d quite like to move on from my toy cameras and find a single camera that satisfies my needs. I’ve seen people using CCTV camera lenses that produce similar effects to the Recesky so I’m curious to see if I can create a similar setup. As much as I love them, my toy cameras don’t feel like they’re built to last!
Thanks very much Tom – long may we continue to collaborate 🙂