In celebration of International Women's Day, we are dedicating the whole of March to showcasing women photographers from around the globe as they share their stories and life experiences of working in the industry. Today, we talk to Brighton-based documentary photographer Madison Beach about her work and why she decided to set up her own YouTube channel that teaches every aspect of the vast and wonderful world of film photography.
Please introduce yourself to the Lomography community?
Hello, My name is Madison Beach, I am a 25-year old documentary photographer based in Brighton in the UK.
What is it you like to capture and is there a message you want to convey through your photos?
When I first started shooting film, I started off capturing anything and everything, but over the last few years I have focused more on journeys and documenting how they entwine and affect landscapes. In 2019 I walked the Camino DeSantiago, an 800km hike from Southern France to the West Coast of Spain. I documented the other hikers and the landscapes I encountered. The walk traveled through seven Spanish provinces– all of which will face irreversible consequences if the climate emergency is not halted.
During the 33 days of walking I realized, aside from pure enjoyment, I take photos as a document. And when it comes to landscapes like the Camino, we have to make huge changes to keep it safe from climate change. I hope my photographs serve as an archive of the Camino in the twenty-first century.
Why do you choose to shoot with film, what's the appeal?
For commercial work I shoot digital probably 90% of the time. But for personal work I always shoot film. Film was my introduction to photography. In my first ever photography lesson at college, we were given a roll of HP5, a Pentax K1000, and an hour to go shoot. We then went into the darkroom and learned how to make prints. So for me, I think there is a huge sentimental attachment. I also prefer film cameras, I find the physical nature of them; the loading of the film, winding and the sound of the shutter very cathartic. I also have a tendency to rush everything and I like the fact film slows me down.
How do people react to your YouTube channel, do you see a rise in interest in film photography?
The reaction to my YouTube channel has generally been very positive; the film community is a brilliant and very supportive one. I have learned so much from other people's videos and my subscribers' comments on my videos. I originally started the channel to give me something to focus on when I was looking for a job 3 years ago - I gave myself the goal of making one video a week. I now have a job and have finished my MA, which I did with the goal of going into academia. I think that's why I kept going so long with the channel and why I enjoy it so much, it's sort of like doing a mini-lecture every week. I think the film community is definitely getting bigger which is great, especially as there are more female photographers getting a platform to share their work.
Do you think it's harder for women to make an impact as professional photographers and do you think enough is being done to address these issues?
Unfortunately, I do think in many cases it is harder to make an impact, I have been on many shoots where it's assumed that because you're a woman you are the assistant or make-up artist, sometimes it feels like you're always having to prove yourself. This is also reflected in the male-dominated YouTube community, thankfully lots of people are addressing the gender imbalance, but I don't think a lot is actually being done.
If you could share your top film photography tip with us what would it be?
Try out different films. Because I started on Ilford HP5 and was comfortable shooting it, it took me ages to take the leap and buy new film stocks. But once I finally did, that's how I came across my favorite films like the Lomography 800 Color Negative film!
Any exciting future plans?
Yes! I am currently working on a photography/travel project that will be released in June!