Girls on Film: Behind the Scenes on REVIVAL
We sat down with photographer Lou Robertson to hear how her analogue approach informed the uniquely nostalgic aesthetic of the REVIVAL shoot.
You use cameras from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. What formats do you shoot and why?
“I use medium format, 35mm and Polaroid. Medium format is probably my favourite because it just gives you a little bit more info, so the photo is crisper and clearer. I feel like I can fit more into the image. And 35mm I love because it gives you more of a grainy texture. It looks like a proper film photograph. And I love a Polaroid camera for behind the scenes or the odd portrait. I just think – especially in my world – it’s nice to see something instant. It’s a really cool thing to keep as a memento of the shoots I do.”
What are the unique challenges of film compared to digital?
“Digital to me is a lot easier because you can see exactly what you are shooting immediately and you can shoot as much as you want. When I shoot with film I have to be very choosy with what I shoot, especially with medium format because you only get 8 to 12 images depending on the camera. A film roll is £70, so it’s expensive. I’m less choosy with 35mm, but I can’t shoot thousands and thousands of images. Almost every image I get from film needs to be usable.”
Do you remember the first film photograph that you ever took?
“Yes! I do. When I first went freelance I had a job in LA, which was very cool. I had just bought this really cheap 35mm and some really cheap film. Any time I wasn’t working on this travel job I took it around the streets with me. When I got home I developed them in this really cheap lab. And I was OBSESSED with every single image. There was one image from a black and white roll – just a picture of an LA street with a really old van, palm trees, people crossing the road – I just loved it and I think that sparked something in me.”
What makes film photography a good fit for REVIVAL?
“I think because these are all heirloom-inspired pieces that borrow from the past, using film to showcase this collection invites a lot of nostalgia into the images. It’s fun to experiment and capture that emotion and freedom.”
Was there a piece from the collection that caught your eye?
“Oh well – this is impossible! Because you know I love everything that Wanderlust Life does. I love the Sigaro Ring, I want one on every finger. The Chain Rings as well – they make me want to use my hands more. And I love the Valentino Necklace. It reminded me of something my best friend gave me when we were ten – but a cooler adult version! And also I really love the Black Onyx Queen of Hearts necklace. I want to layer that with something, and I think it would be really cool to give to people.”
You’ve worked with model Bella Lilley several times before. What makes your collaborations so successful?
“I met Bella on an editorial shoot and she blew me away with her positive attitude. I love the energy she brings to set. We’ve known each other almost a year now so we’re quite relaxed, which I think comes out in the images quite a lot. The more relaxed you are, the better the images. And I really feel she’s going places. I always feel honoured to work with her.”
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?
“Before I realised I could be a photographer, I worked as a stylist in London for a couple of years, which I loved. I love fashion – everything about it. So I’d probably be a stylist.”
You’re Scottish by birth but live in Cornwall. How did that come about?
“Well, love really. I met a lovely gentleman in France. We got together and stayed in France for a few years, and then moved to Scotland for a year. It wasn’t the place for him, so we moved down to Cornwall for the great surf and better weather. It’s one of the best decisions we ever made.”
Are there ways that living in the West Country has influenced your aesthetic?
“Living down here I really notice the colours, textures and how people interact with the environment. It’s all just very inspiring. A rock, some grass, this little bit of sand – it can spark a whole big element of a future shoot. It makes my work I think a little bit more ethereal.”
Was there anything that made this project special for you?
“Well, I loved Wanderlust Life already. And I loved the fact that REVIVAL was inspired by nostalgia with references to the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. I loved all the laughing we did, the positivity, the great energy. It really did feel like I’d come to my family’s house to shoot their jewellery collection that their granny gave them. It felt like we were just hanging out!”