Two Guns, Arizona - Kyle McDougall - Ultrashop

More about Kyle McDougall

How did you choose your means of expression

I had worked with film for a brief period of time at the start of my career, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I re-discovered it and decided to completely make the switch from digital. This also came at a point in my career where my focus was starting to shift from creating ‘traditional’ landscape images to the work I’m capturing now.

Is this medium secondary to or closely linked to your subject

I enjoy the look and character that film provides and I feel like it suits the subject matter I’m capturing, but the process of working with film is also a big part of the appeal for me. Using a thirty or forty year old camera to capture these nostalgic scenes seems very fitting. I also don’t want the images I’m creating to be perfect—I want them to have subtle and unique flaws. Working with a newer digital camera with optically ‘perfect’ lenses just doesn’t seem like a good match for me.

What material do you use and why

Almost all of the images from my current portfolio were created using 35mm or medium format film, mostly using Kodak Portra 400 as the film stock of choice. I really enjoy the way that Portra renders the colours of the desert—most notably the blues of the sky and the browns and oranges of the landscape. These two complimentary colours are present in almost all of my images.

How does a work session take shape

My current portfolio is focused on the American Southwest, and since I live in Canada, I’m only able to visit that area a couple of times a year. Because of that, I’m not creating images consistently throughout the year. But, when I do go on a photo trip, I’m often spending seven to ten days by myself, travelling and creating, so I have a lot of negatives to scan and images to process over the proceeding months once I’m back home.

Can you explain to me how your work has evolved since starting out

I like to think that my work is constantly evolving. My end goal with this current portfolio is to make a book, but I’m not at the point yet where I feel like I’m finished capturing the Southwest. Every trip I take I discover new areas and new ideas, and the project changes in small ways. I’m trying to stay curious and open and see where the work takes me. I don’t have any preconceived ideas or expectations with this work, I’m just letting it take shape over time.


Which events have influenced you most

For almost ten years I focused on creating traditional landscape images in the wilderness. But there came a point where I started to lose my interest and passion for that type of work. In 2017, my wife and I sold our house and bought a truck and trailer and travelled across Canada and the United States for a year. It was during that trip that I discovered the Southwest and the scenes that now make up my current portfolio. That period of time and the discovery that came with it re-ignited my love for photography and played a big role in shaping the current path that I’m on.

What are your sources of inspiration

The biggest source of inspiration for me are the environments that I capture and the excitement of ‘what’s around the next corner’. When I head out on a photography trip I’m often by myself with a rough plan of the direction I’m headed and the areas I want to explore, but I don’t ever have an exact idea of what I’m going to find. There’s always a sense of curiosity and excitement present while driving down backroads and exploring small towns.


Do you wish to make viewers wonder or do you prefer to question them

With my current work, I’d like to make viewers wonder. The scenes and places that I’m capturing often show glimpses of the past—sometimes it’s as simple as an old sign, other times it’s a decaying building or an empty main street. The overarching theme for my work is ‘time’, and it’s what I’m always trying to showcase in each one of my images.

How would you compare your last work with the next

At the moment, I’m not sure what my next body of work will focus on exactly, but there’s a good chance it will share certain similarities with the current portfolio I’m creating. I have had some thoughts about creating work that focuses on the area I’m currently living in, but so far, nothing has really stuck out of the images I’ve made so far.


How do you view your own work

That’s a good question, and I’m not sure if I can answer that right now. As I mentioned before, I’m currently letting the work evolve naturally. The areas I’m photographing attract me both aesthetically and historically, and as the portfolio grows, the direction is becoming more clear and starting to take shape. The best way I can describe it is through this short summary from my website.