One thing leads to another

There’s something more to photography for me than just the technicalities of image making. The story is fundamental...without it, there is no meaning, no substance and no connection.

I’m Andrew Areoff, one of the twelve....and this is my story. 

About nine years ago I went on a photographic holiday to the Isles of Scilly. Putting aside the photographic opportunities, this crop of islands about 30 miles off the Cornish coast, out in the Atlantic ocean are just wonderful and perhaps as relaxed as you can find in the UK. But for the photography, they are just amazing; wonderful rugged coastlines and a way of life that seems unimaginable back on the mainland. I ended up making some photography friends, some I have stayed in touch with. One, a lady called Lindsey Stock – a gifted floral photographer and a wonderfully opinionated character. 

Some months after the Isles of Scilly trip Lindsey and I went on a trip to RHS Wisley to photograph plants. Sunrise brought a sodden wet day, I suggested we reschedule for another day. Lindsey said “no, let’s go. Plants look better in the damp weather.” So I bowed to her superior knowledge and experience. We had a great day in the end a learned a lot about how to photograph plants.

This was back in the day when I was shooting with film the first time round – Fuji Velvia positive film to be precise. This film produced saturated colours, a look that’s out of vogue theses days – it would be interesting to shoot plants again using film stocks that are popular right now and compare the difference. I haven’t done so, but more on the possible reasons why in a bit.

I was on my way to a funeral one day, the husband of my next-door neighbour. While I was driving to the funeral I received a call from Lindsey’s mother. She phoned me to tell me the sad news that Lindsey had died in her sleep; she had epilepsy and had a fit in her sleep. It was totally unexpected to me as I didn’t know she suffered from epilepsy and knew little about the condition. And the sad irony of receiving such news while on the way to a funeral!

I was invited to Lindsey’s funeral – I attended the service along with the bunch of photography friends who all met on the Isles of Scilly trip.

A few weeks later Lindsey’s mother phoned me to ask if I’d be interested in buying Lindsey’s photography equipment. I went to look at what she had and immediately bought the Hasselblad along with several lens and film backs. It’s this equipment that I’m shooting with on Twelve Photographers and is a wonderful piece of kit – a prominent classic camera shop in London complemented me on the brilliant condition of the camera and lenses when I took them in to be serviced a while back.

The strange thing is that I hardly used Lindsey’s Hasselblad camera kit. When I bought it I ran a couple of rolls of film through it, but then I left it in a case for several years. 

Fast forward to last year when I met Dan Rubin , renowned film and smartphone photographer and designer. Amongst other things, we chatted about film photography and the fact I had a Hasselblad as does he (along with his 40 odd other cameras!). He fired up up my enthusiasm for film photography and suggested I take the Hasselblad to Florida with me on my trip there – he hails from Florida himself. I offered my excuses about not wanting to damage the camera on a trans-Atlantic trip on which he poured scorn and told me to” “just take it and shoot some rolls.”

I took his advice and broke the several year spell that was hovering over Lindsey’s Hasselblad and preventing me from just using it. I shot several rolls in the superb light of Florida and the results were astonishing, particularly as I was rusty with using this film format.

When I got back from my trip to the Sunshine State I shared some of my pictures on Twitter with the hashtags #hasselblad and #filmisnotdead. Within minutes I started to get connected with other Hasselblad and film photographers.

One thing lead to another and here I am, one of twelve on this project, paying homage to the classic Hasselblad 503 series camera, film as a resurrected photographic medium, and for me, Lindsey Stock who I miss but remember fondly through using her camera, and Dan Rubin who inspired me to pull my finger out and “just shoot”.