Living and working in San Francisco, Kile Brekke is a Graphic Designer & Art Director by trade. He is also a talented photographer with a love of the process of image-making. The images that we are featuring here have all been shot on instant films – Polaroid type 59, type 79 and type 55 films in a large-format 4×5 camera and also some Fuji FP100c film using medium-format cameras.
How did you first get started in photography?
My interest in photography started in high school. I lacked focus, and there was something about the darkroom that enabled me to cut out the extraneous noise and make something on my own with little distraction or input from anyone else. The anticipation and the uncertainty played a large part in the process of making a photograph. It was the most interesting part for me. There were no expectations – just trying to match your memory to an image, or a scene you had possibly forgotten about. My knowledge in photography and subject matter have expanded since then, but that first experience has stuck with me.
I love getting lost in the moment while framing a scene, measuring the light, interacting with a subject, and loading the film…
Why do you photograph? What are your main motivations?
It’s more about the process for me than the final image. I love getting lost in the moment while framing a scene, measuring the light, interacting with a subject, and loading the film – retracing all of your steps with the constant uncertainty that you are forgetting something. I think I feel more self-conscious on the viewfinder side of a camera than being in front of the lens. There is always this expectation of what the photograph should look like. I’ve learned to embrace the uncertainty and just focus on the process. A failed image is one of my biggest motivations, it’s frustrating at first, but it forces me to figure out what went wrong, learn from it, and possibly use that flaw as a deliberate style or to create a specific mood.
How would you define your style? What is it that you want your images to say?
I feel that so much of my style is a product of the various films and cameras that I choose to work with. It’s difficult to not be associated with that niche, but I try not to let it define me. I use a studio-minded approach to photography in terms of lighting and staging, but expose the images on low-quality instant films or expired sheet films. I like the idea of capturing a sense of youth, beauty and modernity with a nostalgic aesthetic. They can sometimes have a manufactured look, but the medium itself contradicts any notion of being polished. I am lucky enough to be engaged to my muse, who has been a recurring theme and subject in my images. I like the challenge of photographing the same person, in many different ways and still see something completely unique in each of them.
Often times, I limit myself to ten shots in a session; it really forces me focus on what I am doing out there.
What is it about analog photography that holds so much appeal for you?
I’ve always done things the hard way. I am somehow attracted to finding the most difficult or inefficient way of doing things. I think it all comes back to process. It allows me to slow down and think pragmatically about what I want to make. Often times, I limit myself to ten shots in a session; it really forces me focus on what I am doing out there. I just don’t have that same relationship with the digital format. The anticipation just isn’t there. Analog has allowed me to constantly change my approach, aesthetic, and style with each and every film stock I can get my hands on. Each roll or sheet has different characteristics that I have to learn from, new flaws and issues that I can use to my advantage, and unexpected results that keeps me interested and constantly fulfilled.
Do you have any new projects that you are working on that you can tell us about?
I don’t have any specific projects that I am working on, just an ongoing desire to try new things and explore different film mediums and cameras. I plan to keep learning along the way and hopefully get others interested as well. I’d love the opportunity to shoot a look book at some point, but until then—I try not to take it too seriously and just focus on why I am doing this in the first place.
You can see more of Kile’s work at:
All images copyright Kile Brekke.