Updated: Oct 9, 2017
When thinking about the outcome of a photo from shooting with film, most might try to find ways to erase the flaws rather than ways to embrace its imperfections.
Hey, Cameron! Before we start, can you tell us something about yourself and your photography?
Cameron: I'm Cameron, a 24 year old living in Wollongong, Australia, a beach side town with plenty of opportunity for photography. I picked up my first film camera after about a year of taking photos, so 4 years ago. It was my grandfathers Pentax ME Super that I borrowed from him for a time. It takes 35mm film and I began shooting readily available Kodak gold and getting it developed locally at a supermarket. It was the beginning of a time in my photography where I learned many lessons that have become very important to the way I shoot today.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Cameron: I mostly use Portra and Tri-X. Boring, I know, but it's such a safe bet for me. I know that I like the results and it's as simple as that really. I'm still burning through some 35mm agfa vista that I bought for cheap in bulk as well and I don't mind the colours from it, especially in golden light. As for the cameras, I have a beautiful Lubitel 2, a TLR that shoots 120, 6x6. It was gifted to me by my girlfriend who bought it in Hungary, the place of her heritage. It's very special to me and I have some of my favourite photos ever from that camera, despite it's lack of ergonomics and difficult focusing. It is slow and it is imperfect, but it is worth it when I look at a photo I've taken of my girlfriend that has come from this camera she has gifted me, with such history, and has travelled many miles (including with me to Iceland). Nothing else in photography can give me that same feeling.
My 35mm camera is a Nikon FM2. It works, and it's fine. Before that I used a Nikon F-301, It worked, it was fine.
With film, I find myself caring less about the camera body and lens and more about the subject.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Cameron: More imperfections, more happy accidents, more stress about getting it wrong (which makes me think more and work harder).
There's this dumb feeling that I'm using more of a tool, and less of a machine. A perk that essentially serves one purpose; to stroke my artistic ego and make me feel special in a world where everybody is a photographer.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Cameron: Unfortunately everything I do is developed and printed in a lab. It doesn't really make me 'comfortable' though as I find it hard to completely trust someone else with my photos, but I have no choice at this stage. I do like to make my own adjustments digitally after I've received my scans back from the lab, but I try to avoid changing the characteristics of the film.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
Cameron: I can see that my film work is very different from digital. For me, film fills a gap in my preconceived idea for a photo. When I don't know exactly what I want to end up with, I let the imperfections and characteristics of the old lens/film stock surprise me and complete the photo.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Cameron: Absolutely, my film inspiration comes from obvious greats such as Bresson, Maier, Klein (despite not taking many street or documentary photos, I find myself most inspired by those who do). However, I am so inspired by those people I know personally also. Friends such as Cal Harmer, Matt Godkin, Jai Long and Jack Palma.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Cameron: I do, for sure. For me it's about rolling with these moments you’re photographing. Not trying to control every little aspect of the subject, of the exposure, of the sharpness. It's a break from my digital work and as mentioned previously, I've found invaluable sentimental moments with those who I love, and priceless lessons that I'll carry with me through my life as I continue shooting.
What do you think is the future of film photography?
Cameron: It's definitely making a comeback. I'm pretty hopeful for it. People are seeing value in the cameras and the process and it's keeping labs alive when there was a big period of them all shutting down years ago, so hopefully the interest keeps growing!
What’s your dream photography project?
Cameron: This is super tough to answer specifically, but I suppose it would involve printing the end result in a book or magazine format, as well as prints on walls of a gallery. Sharing my photos is all I want to do, but I want to do it in real life and not just on the internet.
To make it a dream project though, it would have to be for a cause, to make people think about social justice or environmental issues that are close to my heart. Images that make people question the decisions that we make daily. The decisions that actually have damaging consequences, and inspire viewers to make behavioural changes in their lives to decrease the harm that we can have on the earth, on other people less fortunate and on animals.
Would you like to offer some good words to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Cameron: Technically speaking, it really helps to know your exposure triangle and the relationship between film ISO, shutter speed and aperture. That's how you gain the most control out of your camera.
If you're coming from digital, don't expect film to be magically better. It's easy to imagine a scene turning out way better than it will when you can't see the result straight away.
Use film to be slow and calculated, but also don't. I've seen amazing photos shot from the hip on a point and shoot camera that hold up.
Know that you'll get unique results. Embrace imperfections and let them contribute to your image. There are enough perfectly exposed, composed and sharp images being created.
Find the combinations of film, body and lens that works for you. No combination will ever be perfect but you might find that things will suit your style better than others. Film photography is a chance to step away from the gear frenzy of the digital world.
Cheers for squeezing in your time for this interview, Cameron!
Guys! Catch him on Instagram as a_mugs_game and as a_mugs_film. This guy is so busy, he even have time to host a podcast with his mate; released a small magazine of iPhone only photos from New Zealand; currently working on a larger photo book showcasing his work. And, it doesn't end there! Believe me. The easiest way to keep up with releases and announcements is to check out his website.
Lastly, he's available for commercial work opportunities.
It's true what they say, "Busy is good!"
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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 everyone 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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