I first met Tommy McDermott a few years ago out in San Francisco when I was working with Huckberry. We quickly struck up a conversation about our mutual love for film photography. He was telling me he was thinking of getting a Canon Canonet like the one I use occasionally.
Shooting on film isn’t easy. It’s time consuming. It’s expensive. And it’s way less forgiving in post than shooting digital. So the allure has to be pretty strong to fully embrace it. I love shooting film, but I still find myself reaching for my digital camera nine times out of ten when I go and shoot. But over the last few years, I’ve watched McDermott consistently publish amazing film shots - mostly on his personal Instagram feed, that show he’s reaching for this film camera pretty much every time he goes to shoot. His trip to Australia, where he solely shot film, was the first time I was really struck by his images. I thought, damn this guy is really going deep into this!
And he has. McDermott recently returned from a trip to Cuba, where he shot all manner of urbanscapes, landscapes and so on, solely on film. Having done a similar trip years ago, I could relate to what he was seeing and shooting, and I loved the way he caught that country. To me, those phtoos looked like they were shot by someone who had spent a lot of time with a camera in their hand. They’re beautiful.
Along with his steady stream of Instagram posts, McDermott is also publishing the occasional photo essay on his site West is Dead, along with interviews with musicians. “It gives me an excuse to keep making things and share them with people,” he told me.
I know the feeling.
I especially liked this look inside Danny Hess’s surfboard shop in San Francisco and this interview with Andy Shauf. Right now McDermott is working on a Instax series and also says he just got a Super 8 camera as well, so anyway like I said, damn this guy is going deep into this! The results are fantastic.