Film flukes

July 5, 2022
Material Culture

Introduction: Angela Skujins

Words: Jack Fenby, as told to Angela Skujins

Pictures: Jack Fenby

Award-nominated photographer Jack Fenby has a predilection for stretching his artistic limits.

Over his five-year career, he has developed a habit of throwing himself into chaos – whether to document Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing or Russian punk group Pussy Riot (kind of).

His new photobook ‘Mistakes’ is a billet-doux to shots gone wrong in the process.

Photography is a very subjective thing. You can take an amazing, conventionally great photo – but that’s not necessarily your best photo, or the photo that another person relates to. 

All the mistakes that I’ve made are super important to me because that’s what develops me. That’s what Mistakes is about.

Mistakes is my latest photobook, or photo series, which is all shot on film. And all the photos are mistakes that I’ve made – or taken – from 2017.

Some of the photos are mistakes on purpose and some of them are an accident.

Intentional mistakes are taking a film photo at nighttime knowing it’s going to be blurry. There’s a few layers to it. Mistakes can be photos that don’t look great but still feel great.

I wouldn’t say people are afraid to show their mistakes but there is a vulnerability. People are self-conscious.

I don’t feel vulnerable showing these mistakes because I’m very happy with them. Looking at these photos, I still find a lot of personal attachment to them.

There is a roll where I shot Sharni [Honor] and my little holiday away. I actually accidentally shot it on a roll that I shot this fake band for a short film – they’re all these kids graffing in the Cranka bathrooms. They’re double exposed.

You look at that and it makes you chuckle and I want people to see that.


My worst mistake is something you’ll never see.

Pussy Riot played at the RCC in Adelaide, and me and this group called Groundfloor Radio organised an interview with them, and portraits. I shot an entire roll of them, but once I got home and opened up my camera, there was no film roll. I forgot to put the film in. I was so happy for the opportunity – but didn’t have anything to show for it.

For my first photo book, Shibuya, I went to Japan for 10 days and bought a big collection of film cameras. I purely went to take photos of Shibuya intersection, because I was obsessed with intersection photos for some reason.

While I was there, I bought about six different film cameras, and I’d never shot film before. I shot blindly with these just-bought cheap film cameras that I thought were cool. When I got back home, I developed them and really liked them.

It was a gamble. If none of these photos worked, I would have had no photographic memory of my trip away. But I wanted to challenge myself. If I did it another way, I would have cheated myself.

I wasn’t really interested in putting my feet up and relaxing on the beach. I was trying to find out who I was.

We live in a world where everybody has these unrealistic expectations on themselves.

I made this photobook because I want people to appreciate the in-betweens.

Jack’s photobook Mistakes is launching at LOC on Hindmarsh Square on Friday, 14 July.

For more information, see the event page.

This article was first published in CityMag‘s winter 2022 print edition.


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