Q&A with photographer James Hough

Image © James Hough

James Hough is a photographer that lives in Atlanta, Ga. He has been shooting lately with a plastic Diana camera, making wonderful ” happy accidents” behind the lens. We spoke for an hour or so about photography, his work and life in general.

What was your first camera?

“My first camera was a Canon Snappy S that my mom bought me sometime in 1986-87. I still have it to this day. After shooting for a while with this camera for a bit I moved up to a Minolta Maxxum 3000i. I really liked the camera. It had an LCD screen and was a more modern camera. It allowed me to adjust the f/stops and shutter speeds on the camera. I moved up to I think the 5000i, but I never could afford the 8000i (laughs).”

Have you had your own darkroom?

“I’ve developed my own film. I had a basic developing kit that I bought from a store to develop film at home, a little dunk tank. It wasn’t sophisticated but it was fun. I’ve never had an actual darkroom. I’ve not printed other than with a (modern) printer, I’ve never had an actual darkroom.”

What is your favorite place to make photographs?

“I like it when I can go on road trips throughout Rural Georgia to find photographs. I like fences along the roads, railroad tracks and trains. I always keep my eyes open for these things. Even in the middle of summer when it is 100 degrees outside. Older houses, trailers and barns are my favorite things. They have a timeless look about them.”

Image © James Hough

What are you shooting with now?

“I have a Toy Camera, a Diana. The original one, not the modern Diana from Lomography. I tape it up really good so I don’t have any light leaks. The viewfinder isn’t exactly what you see, since you aren’t looking through the lens. This results in a lot of ‘happy accidents’ with the camera.”

Have you exhibited your work?

“I have had a couple of exhibits in Atlanta, small places. I exhibited at a local coffee shop. I’ve donated photographs to exhibitions, 2 or 3 images for a local restaurant. I also have an Instagram account. I enjoy getting feedback and ideas from people. There is Free Art Friday Atlanta where artists place work in places, and whomever gets there first gets the artist’s work for free. I would like to print a small picture, laminate it so it won’t get ruined in the water and put it out there.”

What are your photographs like?

“My style is all over the place. When I have exhibited at a show, I picked 10-12 pictures that has some sort of cohesion to them, some sort of pattern. I ended up picking 12 different images. I like landscapes, architecture, trains, barns all totally different.”

“In the city I am challenged to find interesting pictures. I don’t like people in my photographs. I have foregone a photo with a person it it when I have been out making photos. I also like to shoot from the sunroof of my car when stopped at a light. It is a vantage point you usually don’t get unless you stand out in an abandoned street.”

Image © James Hough

What artist is influincing you at the moment?

“I just rented the Vivian Maier movie. She could have been famous if she wanted to, but chose to keep her work secret even from the kids that she took care of. They didn’t even know about her photography. She deliberately did that, which makes it even more mysterious.”

“I lived in the Chicago area from 2003 to 2007 around the time that she was still alive. I never knew that she existed.”

What do you enjoy about shooting film?

“I do shoot with an Iphone 11. It is great for broad subjects and landscapes. I enjoy shooting film more. There is a sense of having to wait for the image instead of the instant gratification of digital cameras.”

What does the future bring for your work?

“I will continue to shoot with my Diana. I enjoy using Ilford HP5 black and white film. I also have a Pentax K1000 that I would like to get back into using. I haven’t settled on a color film at the moment, I like all sorts of different ones. I sent an image to Jpeg magazine. The topic is reflection. They replied that it has been ‘submitted for consideration.’ I’m just waiting to see if it has been selected. I also hope to exhibit this year, and get the ball rolling again. If it would ever stop raining, I would love to go on a road trip soon.”

I really enjoyed talking to James about his work. If you would like to see more photographs from James Hough, please visit his Instagram page.

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