Talya Brockmann is a young Cape Town-based film photographer who is carving out a niche with her instantly recognisable analogue images featuring European-esque compositions of swimwear. We sat down with Talya in between her jampacked shooting schedule to chat about her rise as a young photographer creating art on the beaches of the Mother City, her switch from digital to analogue photography, and her expansive dreams for the future.
If you enjoy this short written interview with Talya, you’ll be pleased to know that she joined us for a more in-depth conversation on Orms Air, our podcast! Catch the full recording below.
What was your first introduction to the medium of photography?
My grandfather introduced me to photography at a young age as he was in the film industry. Fortunately I grew up with cameras and had him to advise me.
How did you go about building your photographic skills?
I practiced all through high school. I constantly took photographs in high school and towards the end, I feel I had almost found my own style of photography.
When and how did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to pursue photography as a professional career?
I decided when I was seventeen that I wanted to pursue photography as a career. I felt I was wasting my time at school, so I decided to switch to online school where I could finish school faster than my other classmates. This allowed me to put in the necessary time and work into my portfolio.
You recently switched from shooting on digital to shooting on film. Why did you decide to go analogue?
I am completely drawn to the film aesthetic. At one point I found myself editing all my digital images to replicate the film look. After enough practice on my digital camera, I decided to buy my very own film camera after having saved up enough money from my photoshoots. I also love the unforgiving nature of film — it really forces me to pay attention to the shots I am taking.
What film do you like to shoot on, and why?
My favourite film (EVER!) is Pro Image 100. It was originally made for film photographers to shoot weddings back in the day as the film itself is very soft and not too contrasted. I love how the colours are vibrant and beautiful.
Do you have any advice, tips, tricks, or suggestions for those who would like to transition from digital to film?
Just make sure that you have had enough practice shooting and finding your specific style because shooting on film is very expensive. Once you feel confident that you have, shooting on film is a breeze.
You predominantly shoot swimwear and portraiture. What drives and motivates you in this genre of photography?
This specific area of photography excites me the most. I love taking images of models or friends in a bikini as it instantly reminds me of holiday time. I feel as though the aesthetic resonates with me, but I do have some new directions I would like to branch into.
Your work has such a decidedly European aesthetic! How did you go about crafting this signature style of yours?
I have always been attracted to the beauty of the European aesthetic, and working closely with European brands has definitely influenced my style, and made me move more towards that look and feel.
Technical question. Many of your images have a beautiful hazy look to them. How do you go about achieving this dreamy effect?
In the beginning, I used a DIY method. I took cling film and put it over the lenses of my camera. I then smeared a bit of Vaseline over the lenses, and that is how I initially achieved this hazy effect. I now use a hazy filter which I can put on and take off during my shoots.
Being a more youthful photographer, have there been any particular challenges that you have faced as you have come up in the industry?
There have definitely been challenges. The first of the two most prominent ones I can think of is being a young beginner in the photographic industry. It is very challenging because I am up against well-established and experienced photographers who have been in the industry for years. The second issue is that I can easily be taken advantage of because of my youth and lack of experience.
What would you say has been your proudest moment to date?
My proudest moment was when my photographs were featured in Marie Claire Spain & Greece. Another moment was when I found out from a friend that my images were on large posters in shopping centers overseas.
Finally, looking to the future. Let’s time-jump to five years from now. Where are you, what are you doing, and who do you think you will be?
I would love to be based in the UK and be able to travel to nearby island destinations to shoot campaigns. I hope to be a well-established and well-recognised photographers shooting global campaigns. I always believe dreams should be big.