Christopher Hall

What is your background in photography? What got you started?

I'm self taught. I started shooting with an old Agfa Optima as a teenager, and continued through my 20's. I was posted in West Berlin during the end of the cold war and shot a lot back then, street scenes and the like. I eventually lost interest in photography for several years, then started again around 2003 when I bought my first digital camera. I found my way back to film again a couple years after that. I found that using film made me slow down and carefully consider my compositions. I also really enjoy the anticipation bit of waiting for the film to come back from the shop, it's almost like Christmas eve, waiting to see what comes out.

What equipment do you use?

I shoot mostly in film, with either a Rolleiflex, or a Voigtländer Bessa III 667. I probably have more cameras than anyone could practically use, but I usually have one or both of those two with me. I keep flirting with various 35 mm cameras, but the 6x6 and 6x7 formats seems to click with me more, it's difficult to get a composition I like with 35 mm.

What is your creative process? Are your shots planned or spontaneous?

I like to get up early in the morning to go shooting. For one, I like the morning light, and I prefer scenes without people. I usually will go out Sunday morning, when most people are still sleeping. Most shots are spontaneous, "as found", but I've also planned some scenes, when I've had proper inspiration. The film all goes to a shop for developing and scanning, and I'll do minimal clean up, if needed. I hope to develop my own some day, maybe if I can retire, but holding down a regular day job means time is precious right now.

You have two book available, could you tell us a bit about how they came together?

I finished the first book, "Home is where the car is" about two years ago. I put it together after many people online had asked if I would do so, and I was pretty pleased with how it came out. It's mostly cars in suburban settings, but, really, they are scenes that remind me of what the world looked like when I was growing up. People tell me that the cars you can find here on the West Coast of the U.S. have largely disappeared from other parts of the country, I think the mild winters here help with that. I think a lot of the scenes I shoot won't be around much longer, so it's important o get out there and photograph them before they all disappear.

The second book is titled "going nowhere", and I was building a bit on the first book. I really like the idea of photographers getting their work out via books, and have been playing with the idea of self-publishing for several months now, I know a few others who have already put a few self-published editions out there. The concept interests me tremendously, but my time is always in such short supply, I'm not sure it will happen anytime soon. Blurb is a happy compromise for the moment. Blurb has been working on their quality issues, upgrading paper and cover choices, so I might work on a new book some time next year.
Both books can be found at Blurb

A lot of your photos are in suburban areas, what is it that draws you to these places?

Having grown up in the suburbs, I think there's a little bit of yearning for those days of childhood which are now long gone. Still, I manage to find little traces of it when I look hard enough. I live in a city now, which seems more "normal" to me. But somehow, the suburbs always pull me back. When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to get out of the place I was living, so it's strange now to always be pulled back.

Who or what inspires you?

In the online world, there are so many. Patrick Joust and Scott Binkley both provide tremendous inspiration. I've also been lucky enough to go out and shoot and exchange ideas with Scott, I wish that could happen more often, but there are several hundred miles between us. I really love seeing the work of Dave Glass too. There are so many others, I couldn't begin to list them all.

I have a rapidly growing collection of books from more established photographers which also provides inspiration. Stephen Shore, of course, is a huge favorite for me.

Are you working on a project at the moment?

I have an on-going portrait project that I'm working on, and, I also like the idea of self-publishing, as mentioned. I have a small show up this month in Oakland, and hopefully a few more shows in the works. The project I should really work on is creating a 36 hour day, there's just never enough time to do everything that interests me.


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