Film forces us to be still for a moment.
Welcome, Alex. Excited to have you here . Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey into film photography.
Alex: My name is Alexandra Linortner. I was born and raised between Austria's beautiful mountains and moved to Berlin 7 years ago. Creativity is a big part of my life and also something that defines me. I studied graphic design to be able to live from something art related. Photography was part of my university education. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue this hobby further and moved to Graz to be able to attend an academy for art photography while I was already working.
Honestly I expected this academy to be more technical but it was purely based on emotional photography and I learned how to channel my feelings into my pictures. By the time the academy started, my boyfriend back then gave me an old camera as a gift. I didn’t try film photography before. I had a huge respect of every picture I took because it was expensive and I didn’t have much money. It took me half a year to finish my first film. This half year I was struggling to find my own voice in photography while all the other people in the academy seemed to make progress. I will never forget the moment I picked up this first film from the developer shop. I saw the pictures on this small sheet you get with your CD (because I had them all digitalized) and I knew this is it. This is what I wanted. This is what I have been searching for. No photoshop. No sorting through thousands of pictures. Only 24 perfect pictures because I had taken my time for each one of them.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Alex: I am using 35mm Fuji Superior film in color. Mostly 400 ISO. When I started film photography I tried a few different types of films but I love the colors of this Fuji film so I stuck with it. The Kodak was a bit too warm for my taste. I prefer the colder colors.
For almost 7 years I have been using a Miranda Camera. It was an old camera my boyfriend back then got for 50 Euros. When it stopped working two years ago I was very sad. I don’t want to think about technical stuff too much. Luckily my boyfriend had an old Olympus so I just got the same one because I knew how the pictures looked like and I loved it.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Alex: Film forces us to be still for a moment. "Awareness“ has become a huge buzz word because we are living in a fast paced time. 20 digital photos of one scene are taken within seconds. A film camera forces you to take your time to really see the moment the picture "happens". Especially when shooting people this creates interestingly awkward situations. I always try to wait until their faces soften and it doesn’t feel like they are posing anymore. As this is a pretty intimate process I am best at shooting people who are close to me.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Alex: Actually I rarely print them. I bring them to a lab to get developed and scanned. I am aware that this means that I am not in control of the the final color grading during digitalization but I love it. My design job is all about perfection and being in control of every detail. That is maybe why I need to keep the photography process simple. No photoshop, not one million possibilities of perfecting everything. I love to keep the pictures as they are when I get them.
Though when I had prints made for exhibitions I was pretty strict about how they had to look like. Huge sizes are pretty intimidating and I felt super vulnerable having to trust the printers office.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Alex: The feeling of awareness is definitely what keeps me going. Also, I love to look at a year in retrospective and see how I have felt according to the amount of films I have shot. Last year for example I took 5 rolls of films during a 2 months trip through Asia in March and April. After that I only used one roll of film for the rest of the year. Realizing this helps a lot with self reflection. I didn’t really feel myself or felt comfortable in my own body during this past year. Many things were changing in my life and career. Also I never take much photos in the city. It’s just too much. Too loud. Too crowded. Too fast. I am considering moving back to Austria soon to get find inspiration in nature again.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Alex: When I started photography I remember reading the book of Annie Leibovitz. I wanted to be like her. Sucked in every word she wrote. I loved the idea of spending a lot of time with people to take their pictures. Letting this feeling of intimacy grow before you even take your first portrait.
Now, 9 years later, I get my inspiration on instagram. Following other photographers definitely makes me grow. Especially the skin series of Berber Theunissen impressed me very much. For the last two years I have been thinking about shooting something like this but good things take time. I like the idea of the body as a piece of art without sexualizing it.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Alex: I definitely want to do more exhibitions and try doing some series based on music that I love. I had a few moments last year going home late through the empty streets of the usually so crowded city, listening to music and seeing pictures I want to take. I want to turn that into a project as soon as possible.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Alex: I stopped doing client work years ago. While my designs have to follow the clients wishes photography is just for myself.
Would you like to share some advice to those who want to try out film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Alex: I guess you have to learn to be patient which is the hardest thing to do for younger generations in times of Tik Tok. It took me some time to really understand how shutter speed and aperture need to be combined. Writing this it feels almost absurd that I didn’t understand this. But I clearly remember when I finally had this "aha!" moment. Just be patient with yourself! What also helped me was working without a light meter. Mine broke after half a year and I never got a new one so I learned to better feel the light conditions.
Photographers around the world are finding ways to keep themselves busy during this lockdown, and coming up with activities to make self-isolation a bit more interesting. What are your ways to keep busy while you have to stay at home?
Alex: I haven’t made so much pictures during self-isolation because I am trying to focus on growing my freelance design business. It occupies all my time and also my creative resources. I have learned that there is only so much creativity for every day and if use it all for design I can’t take photos.
Anything you want to add? Future exhibits, projects you're currently busy with? Anything…
Alex: It has always been hard for me to prioritize between all of my creative projects. Right now I am definitely focusing on my designs so there aren’t any photo exhibitions planned yet. I am super happy though to connect to people with photography interests on Instagram.
And as I am designing websites and have been working a lot with Webflow lately, I would also be happy to get inquiries from talented photographers out there to design some portfolios!
Thank you very much, Alex, for sharing your thoughts and insights with us. Really appreciate this.
Stay safe out there!
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Well now, if you are a passionate film photographer and would like to be interviewed? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, "Interview me", and share your story, thoughts, and work related to film photography. I’ll get back to you as soon as I receive your request for an interview.
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