Interview with Phil Bebbington of terrorkitten

Phil Bebbington is the photoblogger behind terrorkitten.


PetaPixel: Could you tell me a little about yourself?

Phil Bebbington: Well, my name is Phil Bebbington, I’m 51 and from the beautiful georgian city of Bath in the UK. I have been taking photos since about 1976, and blogging for about 3 years. I was a police officer for many years although I’m not sure what that has to do about anything. I have taken breaks in photography over the years but have been fairly focused on it now for about 8 or 9 years.

PP: What do you do for a living?

PB: I am retired – working part time doing this and that to supplement my income.

PP: How did you first get into photography?

PB: I don’t remember exactly, I know it was 1976 and I saw a camera for sale in a local store – it just seemed to catch my attention. I saved for it and started shooting – the rest is history.

PP: Do you primarily shoot film or digital?

PB: I shoot film.


PP: How come you haven’t transitioned to digital when so many photographers have?

PB: I like the pace of film – I enjoy the fact I cannot see what I am shooting. It slows me down, I have to have confidence in what I am doing – there is no point in shooting two shots as I cannot see the first. It gives me time to think, to look, it gives me confidence and assurance in my ability. All I have is my exposure meter and the camera, all the decisions are mine.

I also feel more comfortable with a tried and tested system. We know how long film lasts given good storage. I know that a negative, even if tramped into the ground, will yield an image – I have had digital images break down and lost for ever.

I’m not saying one is better than the other… I just feel comfortable with film. I feel it gives me the best of both worlds.

PP: How did the digital images break down?

PB: Just commercial scans that when I tried to access would not let me read them. You never get that issue with film.


PP: What equipment do you use these days?

PB: Many. My main camera and the one I love is my Hasselblad SWC (wide angled fixed lens) – I also use a Holga on a regular basis as well as other Hasselblads. I would say however that most of my work is with the Hassdelblad SWC and the Holga.

PP: How many cameras and lenses do you own?

PB: I would say 10 or 12 cameras including Polaroids and a few extra lenses.

PP: Is there anything on your wish list?

PB: Not really – I guess a nice medium format panoramic camera but I’m not sure how much I would use it. I probably have too many cameras already.


PP: Have you received any formal training in photography, or are you entirely self taught?

PB: Totally self taught.

PP: What are your thoughts on digital photography and where photography in general is headed?

PB: Generally I think photography is headed down the digital route, which I don’t have a problem with. I feel film has a place but will probably occupy a niche market.

My worry with digital is the snapshot side – the guy in the street that used to take snap shots used to have the films developed and then threw the negs into a tin and there they sat – to all intent and purposes 36 negs with one or two of use – of course the whole set told the story because we didn’t sling the bad ones.

With digital however, we photograph our sons birthday, look at the photos, delete the bad ones and keep the couple of good ones and so the story is gone as the story was the good and the bad – my worry is the loss of the documentary photography done by the guy in the street!

We may not feel the effects of that for 30 years.


PP: Any thoughts on the announcement by Kodak today that they will be retiring Kodachrome film?

PB: Any loss of any film is a sad day – the films available now is shrinking by the day – sad yet inevitable I feel.

PP: What’s your favorite film?

PB: My favourite is Fuji Provia 100, however developing has become costly and difficult so now I use Fuji 160C or Kodak 160VC.

PP: Where do you develop your film? Do you do it yourself?

PB: No, I use a local lab – they are few and far between for 120 film – perhaps when the local one stops I may have to do it myself.


PP: How often and how much do you shoot?

PB: Most days I look for shots. I shoot in two ways: my daily routine is with the Holga, and other projects with the Hasselblad SWC – mainly because the portability of the Holga allows me to carry it at all times.

PP: What is your goal in photography?

PB: For more people to see the photography I am pleased with. I shoot mainly for me so promoting myself I find difficult and a chore as I see little worth in it – still, positive reactions are nice and I guess I wouldn’t have an online presence if I didn’t want to show people.

To perhaps one day be represented by a gallery would be nice – I guess the ultimate aim is not to make money but for it to be self financing. Yeah, self financing would be very nice.


PP: What has been the biggest challenge since starting your photoblog?

PB: My biggest challenge perhaps has been making my photography match the way I think – for years the two seemed out of kilter. I felt I was taking photos but not seeing – the day I started seeing, it started to make sense.

PP: As an aside, why did you choose the name “terrorkitten” for your photoblog?

PB: Well – the blog was originally a gallery of types – I thought it would be good to choose a domain name that at least made people look and perhaps to wonder what the web site was about. Nothing more than that really.


PP: Who are some photographers you keep up with online?

PB: No Traces, The F Blog, pinkie style, electrolite, and lenscratch.

PP: If you could choose one person to be interviewed on PetaPixel, who would it be?

PB: Angie Harris at pinkie style.

PP: Anything else you’d like to say to PetaPixel’s readers?

PB: Sheesh! Not really – you have made me think that’s for sure, and I have enjoyed it tremendously.