For photographer and musician Curtis Collin, anything under the amber lights of the darkroom is possible. He combines different techniques to create stylistic black and white photographs, ranging from playful to surreal. Take a peek into some of his experiments in this interview.
Hello! Welcome to the Lomography magazine. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi, I’m Curtis Collin. I’m a musician and analogue photographer born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; now residing in Calgary, Alberta.
Can you tell us about that moment when you realized you wanted to be a photographer?
I don’t know, I can’t really think of a moment when I decided that this is what I wanted to do, it all just kind of happened. It started as a hobby when I borrowed my grandfather’s camera in 2010 during a summer I spent back in Winnipeg working on music. Just in the last couple years people just started saying I was a photographer, so I just went with it. That’s when it hit me! Especially after I had my first image published in SEITIES magazine in 2015. A local magazine dedicated only to analogue types of photography, based here in Calgary.
How long have you been experimenting with darkroom printing? What made you pursue it?
SAIT offers an amazing darkroom course and I’ve been experimenting in the darkroom since 2012. I think it’s the most liberating thing to do, anything my imagination touches I can create in there. I was taking photography courses at SAIT and one of the courses they offer is a black and white darkroom course. I wanted to experience processing my own film and producing my own prints from scratch. After the first time I took the course I was hooked! I wanted to delve deeper into the world of darkroom printing and experiment with different techniques.
As an artist, where do you draw inspiration from?
As an artist and musician, most of my inspiration comes from music and nature. Music and photography come hand in hand with each other from band photos to album artwork. I really appreciate album artwork as most of it is photography based.
When you’re not spending time in the darkroom, what’s a typical day like for you?
Well, I have to work a lot to support my passion for photography and the darkroom. Hahaha. But when I’m not working, I’m playing music, travelling, taking great photos, and spending time with family and friends.
Any artist you want to collaborate with?
It would be a dream to collaborate with the late Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, but right now I have plans to collaborate with a talented and beautiful artist, who I admire. We’re planning two projects including a film swap.
Do you have any advice for those who want to try experimenting with darkroom techniques?
I think my teacher and mentor, George Webber, said it best during my critique last semester. As he introduced me to my fellow students, he said “Curtis uses the darkroom, like a playground.” Anything is possible under those amber lights. Try not to get discouraged from making mistakes. Even those mistakes can potentially produce a beautiful, one-of-a-kind image in its self. Learning from those mistakes is part of the journey. Open your mind and imagination like you’re a kid again when you’re in the darkroom.
What’s next for you?
I’m enrolled in the darkroom courses at SAIT, again, for the fall semester. Travelling and taking photos. I’m going to start producing photos as album artwork and start doing band photos. I’ve got plans to do two projects with my friend Victoria Braun. I’m also working on a couple different film swaps with my cousin, a young and budding photographer, Kirsten Horne and my friend Lina Hincapié. I’m also working on producing some photos for the next issue of SEITIES magazine, a local traditional photography publication and gallery, here in Calgary.