If you got hold of Vol. III before it sold out, you might have guessed that our friend Sadie Bailey recently relocated herself to California.
After releasing countless zines, taking part in group exhibitions and running erratically around Europe for as long as we’ve known her, Sadie’s recent move to the Golden State was accompanied by a voluntary slower pace of life: Instead of being caught up in the freelance grind and carrying on the same path, she decided to only focus on projects she felt like she had a true connection with. Her interview with Leo Romero for Vol. IV is a good testimony to this new mindset of hers, as is her new print project entitled “Sorry, You’re Not On The Itinerary”.
The zine is the first solo print project she’s released since moving herself halfway across the world. At a glance, it depicts a group of friends road tripping around California, adventuring through every little town they can find on route. Diving further in, it portrays that first breath of fresh air you take after being submerged for what felt like eternity. The freedom of travel, of exploration, in which photography played a key role for Sadie:
“That’s why I love photography. Not for the Instagram likes, not for the magazine features, not for the name dropping of who shot who at what party with what designer. I love it because for the first time, I’m genuinely happy. That overwhelming sense of happiness, where all you can do is take a step back and let it all sink in. I’m able to immortalize that. I have negatives upon negatives showcasing it. I can look back on this project in the whatever dark hours are yet to come, and know that it’s okay. It will all be okay. “
The zine contains 42 pages of black and white analogue photography. All shot on Ilford HP5+ and self processed. In regards to the chemistry and darkroom techniques, Sadie was generous enough to send us her processing notes, which you’ll find below, after the transcript of the quick chat we had about the project. If you want more, we highly recommend sliding in her DMs or contacting her via her website. She’s one of the most easy going and compelling persons we know of, and is always down to share her knowledge about anything film-related… or a round of beers at your local dive bar.
Despite living in London for years, you’re spent some of your childhood in California. How did coming back to the place you grew up felt like? Was it some kind of re-discovery?
Oh, it was completely different. I grew up in Laurel Canyon, a small little neighborhood nestled away in the Hollywood Hills. The Los Angeles I knew (and loved) can be pinpointed within a 5 mile radius of that. I moved back to London right before my twelfth birthday and, for the next ten years, always romanticized coming back to my little stretch of paradise. What I didn’t realize, was that there’s a whole realm of Los Angeles, of California, that I’ve never seen before. Sometimes I feel like I’ve moved to a foreign country. I frequently find myself confused, lost and absolutely mesmerized with it all.
I always feel like it’s harder to find interesting perspectives to shoot when going back home. Maybe it’s the fact of being used to it, having seen these places your whole life, which makes it less exciting… I’m not sure. Did you feel like this at all on this trip?
That’s how I felt about London. I felt stuck, uninspired. I would have to force myself to go out and take photos. And albeit — I don’t actually shoot as much on a day to day basis now as I did before I moved (I’ll use the excuse that trying to really, truly experience this adventure). I do always have a camera on me. Either my Yashica T3 Super or one of my many Nikon FE2’s. I’m not actively searching for photographs anymore, so when it comes it comes. I don’t feel the need to pressure myself creatively. There’s no void to fill anymore. I just have fun with it.
Has the move to LA changed the way you shoot photos?
Street photography is definitely less accessible due to the fact I spend half the day in my car. I feel like it’s something you need to set out and seek here, compared to our many European excursions where we would walk from one end of the city to the next everyday taking photos of everything and nothing. I also had to prioritize my job and my new-found friendships over my creative ventures. I couldn’t run around Los Angeles on the odd freelance gig and feel fulfilled. I needed stability. To compromise, I decided that I’d operate on a more project-based schedule rather than a free-for-all mentality. This project was shot in October and I’m only just getting to it now (March). That’s okay. I’ve been busy. I went through something pretty emotionally taxing the week after our roadtrip and for my own wellbeing, I had to occupy my time with proving myself at work, endless mornings at Bagel Nosh, skateboarding with the girls, and obsessing over a cat named Bread.
It looks like you covered a lot of ground on the trip but somehow ended up connected with a lot of other people? How did all of that happen?
In the same way we connected many moons ago in Paris. I stumbled across a group of people who held similar interests with enough differences. I wanted you all to be apart of my life. I felt like there was a lot to learn and experience through such connections. I find it very easy to strike up, and hold, a conversation when I’m impassioned by it.
If you had to chose one of the places you visited to settle in, which one would it be? And why?
Fish Camp, California. It’s magical and mysterious.
On the opposite, is there a place you visited you’re not likely to come back to?
Never! I’ll go anywhere twice if theres cold beer.
Dif you find yourself in sketchy situations whilst on the road?
Not during the trip, no. But a few weeks later Sam started messaging us about all the little, quirky places we stopped along the way. He found out a way to track exactly where we had been thanks to some Google app (very creepy) and he came across the gas station we stopped at in Coarsegold, California. Apparently a bunch of kidnappings had taken place recently… you know — man in a van kind of thing. So weird.
That sounds sketchy… Going back to photography. We know you’re a medium format enthusiast — What was the motivation to go back to 35mm film for this project?
I actually took my Bronica SQA on this trip too. I think I shot around 3 rolls of 120, but after developing the rolls I wasn’t too keen on it. It didn’t fit the project. The photographs felt too forced. Too staged. They’re beautiful, don’t get me wrong. I have a handful of photos showing the sun waking up in Yosemite, they’re very Ansel Adams — not so much Sadie Bailey. I hadn’t focused on 35mm in over a year, and the effortless-ness of it was exhilarating.
We know you’re part of AllFormat Collective. Can you tell us more about it?
Allformat is a diverse, global collective of 15 dedicated photographers who came together through the mutual love of film. Everything I shoot is analogue. Always has been, always will be. I love the science behind the art, and can spend hours upon hours in the darkroom completely infatuated by it all. The other 14 members are beaming forces of artistic dedication and inspire me constantly. We just released AllFormat 3, the third installment of our group zine. This one includes a guest-interview with Bryan Schutmaat which is pretty cool. It’s still available to purchase, and I highly recommend you do so. In fact, I demand you do so.
How important do you think these photography collectives/groups are in our day & age?
I think that slowing down and connecting with people who share your interests and your passions is the most important thing to do in a society where everything can be so fast passed and volatile. We take a lot for granted, and can easily fall into the hole of spending little to no time soaking up life, and art, outside of Instagram.
What are your plans for the year ahead? Any projects we should be aware of?
I like to follow personal projects with collaborative projects. I think it takes the pressure off trying to force myself to be interesting. I’m sitting down with someone really cool over the next few days, a visual artist this time (as opposed to my habit of focusing mainly on music), and I’m really excited to see what weird shit we can create from that. Whatever is next, wherever life may take me, you guys will be the first ones to know. As always.