Holden Richards | Fine Art Photography

I first found Holden's work on Flickr and enjoy his simple approach and dedication to the art of analogue film photography.

1) Please state your full name

Holden Richards

2) Current occupation

Owner / Lead Programmer Kitchenmedia.com

3) Where are you currently living

Hillsborough, North Carolina

4) What’s your age


5) What do you like about photography

Where do I begin? Composition led me back to photography. I was a pretty serious art student in college and wound up with a degree in History, so the art was discarded for a while. I really missed visually creating and photography seemed a natural way to get back into composition. Also the aspect of “showing up” to take a good picture. If you are not present and just pushing the shutter the result is seriously unintentional. I want to create awareness in myself and let it inform the images I create. That quality of awareness is beneficial to all aspects of life.

6) How did you get started

I had a little digital camera but it did not satisfy the look that I wanted from my photographs. I tried HDR and that was interesting but still not it. I bought a Nikon Rangefinder film camera from the thrift store and shot a roll of HP5 in it and realized that the look was exactly what I wanted, what my mind had seen. I was really happy shooting 35mm until I started looking at the detail and quality of the photos coming from medium format cameras. I bought a Bronica ETRSi and used it until a trusted mentor said my shots were better as squares. That statement prompted me to buy a Hasselblad.

7) Would you like to be a full-time photographer

I am working on that. I have images in the Getty stock collection and just recentely rented some darkroom space to print more regularly than I do at home. I just got into a very nice juried show here in North Carolina and am working on a Gallery show next year. I had a showing last year that went very well and sold quite a few pieces.

8) Which countries would you like to visit for photographic opportunities

Scotland, India and China come to mind immediately. Scotland for the ample old growth forest, India for its pure exotic ambiance and China for its historic landmarks.

9) At what age did you become a photographer

Well all my life really, I always had a little camera but only in my early 40’s did I take up film photography seriously, learning to shoot, develop and print.

10) What inspired you to become a photographer initially

The need for an artistic outlet and the want to walk in nature.

11) Who or what inspires you now

Many things inspire me now, the multiple series ideas that come to mind. The numerous alternative printing techniques available to film photographers. The different looks home developing can give. That rush when you see a lovely image for the first time as you hold up the negative as it dries.

12) Why film photography and not digital capture

Film does have a look that digital cannot duplicate. I have recently started to develop my negatives in Rodinal and it gives an unmatched acuity. The etched-like sharpness along with the specific tonal curves of some film are very unique. And once that all hits paper in the darkroom you have something really special that cannot be duplicated any other way.

13) What does film offer you that digital capture doesn’t

The ability to print it in a wet darkroom. The ability to influence it at every juncture of its journey. To choose how to shoot it, how to develop it. To expose for shadows and shorten the development to limit the highlights is certainly something you cannot do with a digital camera. Also the quirky miracles that occur sometimes when you least expect them due to the particular film itself or the filter or the light conditions.

14) What’s wrong with photography today, if anything

Nothing really. I will say that since I started shooting film the idea of knowing I have limited exposures has made me a better, more careful photographer. I know exactly when to shoot a lot. With digital I think I would just be shooting a lot and without as much awareness of what or why.

15) What do you find most difficult/challenging about photography

I can be heartbreaking when the developing goes poorly or a technical problem snags the printing of an image. Its an organic process that involves your decision making process to be in sync with your creative one. Both halves of the brain work to create a good film photograph.

16) Do you have any goals for 2010

More images in Getty, more shows and maybe travel a bit to shoot.

17) Do you have anything exciting lined up for 2010

Hopefully more paid time with the camera due to some architectural photography opportunities that have turned up for a client of mine.

18) Have you achieved your goals for 2009

Easily so, had my first showing and sold quite a few pieces.

19) How much time per month do you give to photography

I shoot often and think about photography in some way every day. I am a consultant so I take opportunities to shoot almost anytime I want or need to. (Yes, I said need to.)

20) What gear do you use most

Hasselblad 500 c/m with the Zeiss Planar 80mm

21) Do you think ‘gear’ matters

On some level, yes. If you are ready to make a leap good gear can certainly facilitate that. If you are not ready all the gear in the world won’t help.

22) Is there any more ‘gear’ you’d like to own which you don’t currently

The Zeiss Distagon 40mm for the Hasselblad, a large format camera of some kind is in my future at some point I hope.

23) You create your own darkroom prints; can you tell us what you like about this process – what do you like about it, why do you do this yourself etc (please elaborate on this as it’s a small question but hopefully will have a big answer...)

The easy answer is that they are lovely and quite an achievement in and of themselves. Every one is unique and you do your own ballet of sorts under the enlarger lamp to make it happen. It requires you to be wily and use the gear in creative ways as the process is all about light and the lack there of. You are basically reshooting the scene through a lens onto more film (photographic paper being film often with an ISO of around 5) . In the early days of photography you would enlarge the negative with the same lens you took the picture with. You would take it off the camera and mount it on a lensboard under a light. The print is your final statement on the image, not the negative. That makes the print all important.

24) Whats the biggest compliment you’ve been paid and by whom (photographically)

I have been received into mentorship by many well known photographers here in my area of North Carolina. Notably Elizabeth Matheson, John Rosenthal and Bill Bamberger. I have had wonderful talks with John Menapace as well. That these well known photographers would support my work means the world to me.

25) Where do you see your work in 5 years

Really pushed ahead, evolved, unique and undeniably my own.

26) What do you hope to achieve when taking photographs

Unity with the scene and conveyance of some hidden understanding about it and myself.

27) Do you have a favourite photograph that you took

28) Do you have a favourite photograph by someone else

29) With regards to film, what’s your process from camera to print/web

For print its darkroom only so far. For web its scan with the Epson 4490 and that’s it. No corrections as corrections don’t help me learn anything.

30) Have you exhibited your work and if so where

I have exhibited in a small gallery here but am shooting for bigger and more formalized settings.

31) What’s your preferred mediums for print

Fiber photographic paper.

32) Are you signed to any stock/art agencies, if so, which

Getty through Flickr at the moment. Quite exciting.

33) Are you working on any personal projects at the moment

I am always thinking of series to shoot, printing, developing or some other photographically related task.

34) What do you dislike about working with clients the most

Nothing so far as I only sell them finished prints. I don’t print to order or to a client’s taste.

35) What’ do you like the most about working with your clients

Selling your work is the epitome of acceptance.

36) Do you have a favourite subject

Natural subjects. My photos are taken in different places but have a unity of theme to me. The inherent timeless beauty of landscape and water. Whether camping on an unhabited sea island observing the wild horses, wandering to long abandoned 18th century locations on the Rivers of North Carolina or exploring the marshland of the Piedmont the abundance of wildlife and diversity of flora never fail to overwhelm me. I am in my proper place in the world, that of the empathetic observer. The vibrational match to that which I see.
37) What’s your favourite film and why

Wow, still figuring that one out. I love Acros 100 and Agfa 100 both of which are discontinued. Of films currently manufactured I like Kodak T-Max and Shanghai GP3 quite a bit.

38) If you had to choose one camera, one lens and one film (if you choose film over digital) to work with solely for your own purposes, what would they be and why

Easy, the Hasselblad with the Planar 80mm. The most versatile camera combination ever. The film would probably be Acros for its sheer beauty.

39) Do you have any plans to start taking photographs for a living

Indeed. That is what this year is about for me.

40) How do you relax

Being with family, travelling , friends, sports like tennis… Photograpy!

41) What excites you

Music, art, the landscape, books - every day I’m hooked by something.

42) What’s your favourite Flickr group

Depends on what I’m into at any moment. Lately I’ve been making groups to help me learn about a topic from others. When I wanted to learn more about printing I started “The Wet Darkroom” group on Flickr for instance.

43) What’s the best thing about photography

Shooting, without a doubt.

44) What don’t you like about photography in general

Lugging gear, that’s the only thing I don’t like. I find ways to travel light every time I shoot by taking only one lens for instance.

45) How would you like to be remembered

As someone who mastered his vision.

46) What advice would you give to someone looking to buy a camera

Start simply and move up. Less features let you focus on the focusing.

47) If someone would like to see your work, where can they find it


48) Can you send some examples of your work as low-res JPG’s (500pixels)
49) Do you have anything else you’d like to add



Paul Cooklin said…
I would like to thank Holden for his cooperation with this Q&A and for his interesting and candid answers.

As always, Im looking forward to seeing more of his work on Flickr.
Unknown said…
An excellent Q&A on Holden and his work. I have been following Holden on Flickr for quite some time, his passion for photography and making beautiful images is inspiring!