Monique Prinsloo (b. 1984, Johannesburg)
Currently living and working in Cape Town
What kinds of things do you most enjoy photographing?
People. But I am not very good at it yet! My second favourite: Horizons.
Describe your photographic style.
My partner and I travel throughout our beautiful country & continent regularly, and I document what I see around me on film as best I can. So in a way my photographic style is more a visual essay so to speak, of our adventures together.
Photography is a lot about the journey. How has it influenced your personal life and the way in which you view the world (around you)?
I capture moments with a very bulky Zenza Bronica film camera. Not only is it heavy, but it has a noisy shutter too — so photographing people is rather tricky and I have very few portraits. The way in which film photography and specifically my camera of choice has influenced the way in which I perceive the world, is rather remarkable. I have become more respectful towards individuals I photograph, because I cannot “sneak a pic” if you will. My Bronica is too conspicuous for that!
Our culture loves instant gratification; “take a picture – get that moment!” — and in a heartbeat you’ve selected a filter and uploaded the image to your Instagram profile. Very few people take a moment to consider whether that person is okay with you taking a picture of them and making it available for anyone to see. I’ve made this error many times, and it can at times be difficult to approach individuals. But I try make an effort and first ask the person’s permission to take their photograph. Usually they respond in a very positive way.
Photography is also about capturing a moment in time. What is your approach to a shot, and your approach to a new body of work?
Since so much of my work is collected on our travels, I don’t usually over think my approaches towards capturing my images. I let the moments come to me, and I photograph them when they do. I let a body of work present itself organically from this process.
Is photography your professional career? Or do you work in another field?
I do not label myself a photographer at all — there are so many incredibly talented photographers in the world who push their medium wholeheartedly. I prefer to see myself as a visual artist who seeks to explore the world by making use of the photographic medium. Only recently have I resumed my fine art practices, and it is a very slow process. But to pay the bills, I freelance as a Storyboard Artist and Creative Researcher.
What gear do you shoot with? Specifically camera arsenal and film stock. Also tell me about your darkroom?
90% of the time I have my medium format Zenza Bronica on hand, but when I have space I also pack my 35mm Canon Elan film camera — with which I can shoot double exposures rather accurately. I used to predominantly shoot on black and white film in order to hand process the film stock. But due to limited space and time, and my interest in colour film, I’ve made a decision to pause hand processing black & white film.
I think the transition to colour film photography came after the residency I attended at NES (Skagaströnd, Iceland), when I thought it would be a great idea to build my own darkroom in the studio. The residency was very far removed from any processing labs (closest was 5 hours by bus), and so I shot predominantly on black & white film except for one medium format colour film — which was the most successful roll of the entire batch. I worked through about 12 black and white medium format films and 12 black and white 35mm films, and heaps of photographic paper. Needless to say, lesson learnt: In a country with golden hour for at least 5 hours of the day, shoot colour — not black and white. Besides, I am not a very pedantic person in the darkroom and I get dust and blemishes on my film all the time.
What are your influences? Please list other photographers you look up to or things that generally inspire your image-making process.
I truly admire Caroline Denervaud. She is an artist who creates dreamlike shapes through movement, on paper or in space. Haruki Murakami’s novels are definitely at the top of my list as well.
In a nutshell drawing, literature, and dreams deeply influence my artistic practice and I am working on an idea towards a body of work where I can incorporate drawing and photography in a fresh and inspiring way.
What else do you enjoy? (Hobbies, etc – Any other creative exploits or interests?)
When I feel pressured or frustrated, I sew. I was fortunate to be raised by a mother who made all my clothes since I was a little girl, and now I’ve become very selective of what I buy and whom I buy it from. But I attempt to make all my own garments by hand.
Any tips for aspiring film photographers?
My partner reminds me every day that not one person knows all there is to know about their field of practice, and we should never stop learning.
Research. Read a lot. Pay attention and make mistakes, this is how you learn and often it is the smallest detail that has the largest impact on your work and for which you pay the greatest price.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and never forget to play.
What lies on the horizon (any plans for series, exhibitions, travels etc)? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?
I hope to attend a residency this coming August/September — with this comes a great deal of planning, and if all goes well I hope to exhibit my project upon my return!
All photos by Monique Prinsloo
DEAD TOWN™ | Film-only Photographic Showcase ©2017.