Updated: Oct 7, 2017
I think I'll be shooting film until the day I die.
Please tell us about yourself and a brief story on how you got into film photography?
Cris: My name is Cris, I'm a 21 year old portrait photographer currently based in Canada. I guess, my interest in film photography started when I found myself recreating or emulating the look of film with my digital photos. I've always liked the look and the feel of photos taken on film. That's when I thought to myself, why spend all my time editing my photos to look like film when I could just skip all that and shoot the real thing.
One day, I walked in to a local camera store, a retired photographer was about to trade in his film camera gear and the store was offering him $30 for a nice little kit (Nikon FE + 3 lenses). I did not know anything about how it all works yet but one of the staff was testing it and said it was in great, working condition. I offered him $50 for it, he gladly accepted, I got a roll of Portra 400 on the way out and then it took me about 5-6 months to finish that roll. When I got the results back from that first roll, that's when my film addiction started.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Cris: I mostly shoot colour film as I feel like most of the scenes I photograph would look better in colour. I do use black and white occasionally when I want go for a more intimate look.
I tend to use Kodak Portra for commissioned shoots but for personal work I'm fine with Kodak Gold and Fuji Superia. Mainly, because they're cheaper and the results you get are almost as good as pro films as long as you expose it correctly. As for cameras, I have acquired quite a bit of gear since I've started this journey with film but my most used cameras are the Contax T2 and Leica M6.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Cris: Details in the highlights haha! But in all seriousness, I think film has an effect on how you frame and look at things. As cliché as it sounds, film does make you slow down but in a good way. Its a slow process, from making sure your subject is in focus, advancing that lever, rewinding the film, to developing the film, to digitizing it, it's all part of the art of making photos the old fashioned way. And with limited exposures per roll, why wouldn't you take your time to make sure the photo you're about to take is as perfect as it can get?
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Cris: I currently do not print my own photos, but I do develop and scan all my colour and B&W film. When I want something printed, I just go to my local lab. Although I would love to have a darkroom someday where I can make prints myself.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
Cris: All the reasons I've mentioned above. I just love the whole process from shooting to developing to scanning film. Sometimes when I'm developing my rolls I would ask myself "Did I mess it up?", "Will there be any photos on this roll?". There's always that element of surprise, most of the time my photos come out better than expected and I just love how that makes me feel.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Cris: I would say yes and no. When I first started shooting I would always look at other people's work and try to recreate what they've made. But now, I just go with the vibe and the atmosphere of the scene and see what I can make out of it.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Cris: I definitely do. With film, there's a lot more into it compared to shooting with digital, therefore I feel like I am more invested so I value it more and take it more seriously. Shooting film has also made me deal with uncertainties a little better, not just with film photography but uncertainties in life as well.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Cris: I think I'll be shooting film until the day I die or until film manufacturers keep making the stuff, whichever comes first.
What’s your dream photography project?
Cris: I've always wanted to travel and capture the culture of different people around the world.
Any good words you want to impart for those who want to try film photography? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Cris: Just go out and shoot! I would say don't focus too much on what camera you're shooting with as I've made that mistake when I first started. You can read a lot of articles and discussions on the internet about film, learn as much technical details as you want but nothing beats what you will learn when you're out there shooting and practicing. Don't be afraid to make mistakes either because that's how you'll learn, everything is a process, don't rush through it.
Admirable set of photographs, Cris.
Shooting with film has made Cris deal with uncertainties in life a little better. I reckon film photography can be a valuable tool for emotional wellness. The excitement you feel during the entire process —from choosing the film to developing it until the moment you print your photo—can be the moment that changes your day... or life.
Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Cris Montecillo. He devoted his time, and worked so damn hard in creating these portraits. You are not allowed to copy, download, reproduce, reprint, modify, distribute, publicly display, license, transfer or sell content retrieved from this page in any way, for any public or commercial use or to any commercial source, including other websites, without prior written permission of Cris Montecillo. Be mindful of your actions. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?
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 email@example.com 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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