Mark Tamer takes a completely unique and refreshing approach to photography, choosing to pull things apart and chip away at an image through various methods of experimentation and destruction. Using mostly film, he breaks up the boundaries of what is possible by manipulating each stage of the process to bring an element of playful and devious character to each frame.
We sent him the HydroChrome Sutton’s Panoramic Belair Camera to test out and he talked about his experience shooting with this liquid lined panoramic beauty.
Hi Mark, please tell us how you've been getting on since we last interviewed you?
Hi there, it’s nice to be back. I’ve been quite busy lately, luckily Lockdown didn’t stop me working at home, so I could produce plenty of chemigrams.
I found a way to spin the paper while adding chemicals to create spirals. I started with a cake turntable which I spun by hand but then progressed to a small electronic potters wheel so I could have both hands free. It was a lot of fun and more than a little messy.
What made you get into film photography in such an abstract and experimental way?
I guess the experimental interest comes from a curiosity about how things work, or, don’t work. I like to see how far I can push things before they break. Most of my cameras are cheap and held together with gaffer tape and glue. The “who’s got the best camera” side of photography has never interested me. As long as I can get light onto the film in some way, I’m good to go. I use film, often out of date and chemically unstable, because I like to be surprised when I see the images. With film, there’s always a little space for some magic to happen.
How did you get on with the Hydrochrome camera? What liquid did you use?
I took the Hydrochrome out for a few shoots. My first film came back underexposed, I think the opaqueness of the liquid makes a big difference. I started with a red food colouring and the light wasn’t getting through.
It’s a process of trial and error. Eventually I found a fast rated film is best - something like the Lomography Color Negative 35 mm ISO 800 is good, combined with a lighter liquid. Yellow food colouring is good, or a well diluted red. I would have liked to try some oil but getting the lens clean again would have been a pain. The super-wide panoramic lens is great, covering around three frames each time. I love photographing trees and this was perfect for that!
If you were to invent a film or camera what would it do?
As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. So, something compact and pocket size that I can carry at all times. A rotating turret with different lenses would be good.
Any new projects in the pipeline that you would like to share with us?
My aim for the next few months to begin work on a book project. I’ll begin with some handmade book dummies and then see where this leads to. I’ve made a self-published zine/book previously, but I think it’ll be way more fun to handmake it, cutting, sticking, stitching etc.