Chris confident about life without an undo button Report: Shona Wall Pictures: Stewart Wall StewartWall@icloud.com
THE FOUNDER of Square magazine, Christophe Dillinger, is an engaging and amusing speaker who entertained about 35 people at an event organised by Paper jammed in the camera: “I love this image.”
A composite of Chris Dillinger with his Yashica
Birmingham Loves Photographers Chris, a Frenchman who tutors at Birmingham College, bought a suitcase full of assorted cameras to Kafe 6/8 in Central Birmingham to describe his experimental photography.
“Things now are neat. It’s too neat. Now when you take your photo, you know exactly what’s going to happen,” said Chris, who also works with a charity teaching people with learning and physical disabilities. “That’s boring. I like to play and not know what is going to happen.” Going under the name WYSIWIGTN Photography (What You See Is What I Got on The Negative), Chris dedicates time to buying cheap secondhand cameras and using film. “I’ve not found anyone else silly enough to do what I do,” said Chris. “Experimental photography does not mean I can’t do normal photos, but I like to play with shapes and positive and negative space.” For “normal” photographs, Chris uses a twin lens reflex Yashica. “It’s a workhorse, and with the twin lens, people don’t realise you have taken a picture.” During the talk, Chris allowed the cameras to be handled by the audience – “They are bomb proof. Some of them are nearly 50 years old” – and was blunt about their deficiencies. He explained how he had gained different effects with each one.
Chris Dillinger talking about his experimental techniques
The founder of Square magazine: “There was nothing in this format, so I made one.” Among the cameras that he showed was a Brownie, a Lomo LC-0, a Diana, a Polaroid, an exploding flash, a Zorki-4k (“I cut my partner’s arms off using
Chris explained how he gained different effects by using double exposure, sometimes exposing one way, then turning the camera upside down before expos-
“Often, I find a Photoshop technique and think, hey, how can I make this for real?” this and never heard the end of it”) and declared his Multishot Polaroid Back camera (for doing passport photographs) as his most stupid camera to date. “I had to have it because it’s so ugly,” he said.
ing again, half frame cameras, and sticking sugar paper to film before shooting it, using a dark bag. He had painted some film with pigment, stuck on various different papers, soaked in oil to make them translucent, and
stuck various coloured acetates and graph paper onto film as he was scanning it. “Here, a layer of paper I put on the film got stuck and jammed inside the camera,” he said. “I absolutely love this image.” For his “typewriter project” he had stuck letters onto his negatives to make certain words show up on his photograph, such as “Wheeeeeeeeee!” down a helter skelter. “It took me hours, positioning all the letters,” said Chris. “It is easy to do this in Photoshop. Quite often, I find a Photoshop technique and think, hey, how can I make this for real?”
Jenny Duffin, left, of Birmingham Loves Photographers, with Chris Dillinger at Kafe 6/8 in the city centre “What I do, when I play around with the negative, I can’t undo it,” said Chris. “But life hasn’t got an undo button.” “From taking pictures, I started to show pictures and went to a few places around the world,” Chris said. “There wasn’t a magazine dedicated to square format so I decided to make my own,” he said. The magazine is becoming well known in the UK, France, America and now Eastern Europe. “We have worked with famous people, as well as less famous people. Sometimes we have paired them together. We have residency programmes
for those who have a project and are willing to work on the square format.” A touring exhibition, Photostorism, organised by Square is currently at Birmingham City University, from April 16 until May 16, and the magazine has recently been running a competition where entrants took pictures on an I-phone on the theme of My Impossible Year – “either the year you have had or anticipated having”. The results of this competition have not yet been announced. www.Squaremag.org. birminghamlovesphotographers.com/