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Interview with DANIEL ZISMAN, USA

Updated: Oct 7, 2017

It is the duty of film photographers to keep the legacy going. Sharing, inspiring, and keeping this medium in production is the key to its longevity.

Hi, Dan! Tell us who you are and how you got yourself shooting with film.

Dan: My name is Dan, I am 25 years old, and I shoot film. I've always been interested in photography, but never bought a camera due to other hobbies taking priority. Junior year of college, I bought my first DSLR, and started shooting like crazy. I was traveling a lot so I was learning quickly and immediately went full frame.

While studying business in Moscow, the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I was out taking photos and stumbled upon a flea market. I figured it would be interesting to shoot some street inside. During my walk through, I saw a stand selling old Soviet film cameras, and thought it would be the coolest souvenir for my self. So I bought my first film camera, a Zenit 3m with a Helios 44m. I went back about a week later and ended up buying two more old Soviet film cameras (a Zenit TTL and a FED 2) because I thought they were so cool. By the end of my trip, I had accumulated 5 film cameras.

Once I got back to the States, I decided to put a roll through the FED-2 because I was fascinated by rangefinders and their compact-ness.

Since, I have been buying cameras non-stop, and have even started shooting film more than digital.

What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?

Dan: As for types of film, as I like to try out new films for new looks. I am always buying new film and testing it. I tend to use a lot of Kodak Gold, Kodak Portra, Kodak Ektar, Fujifilm Superia, and have recently started collecting Fujifilm Reala due to its rarity. These are my main preferred films due to their high quality, minimal grain, and color saturation. I mostly shoot during the day, so I rarely use film higher than 400 ASA.

I have a drawer full of cameras. They each have their own personality and uniqueness. My main cameras are my Canon A1, Nikon L35AF2, and my Canon EOS GII (because I can mount my digital L-glass to it). I love my A1 due to its stealthy look, beautiful selection of FD glass, and Aperture Priority, The Nikon, which was recently acquired is a fun little camera that produces extremely sharp images for what it is. Plus it is cool that it is from the mid-80’s. The GII is great because I can use all the same glass that I mount up to my 5DIV, so you already know the images will be extremely sharp as long as I am using a high quality film.

I have a slew of cameras that I love to use, and I am always on the hunt for new cameras whenever I stop by an antique store, garage sale, etc…

What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?

Dan: I think film is authentic. Yes, you can make digital look similar to film in post, but it will never be. Noise is not the same as grain, so to the trained eye, film is unreplicable. In my honest opinion, film makes memories more than digital. With the world of digital you can take dozens of pictures until you take the one you like best, therefore illuminating the thought process needed to create an interesting image first try. With film, you have one chance for each shot, so you make sure it is going to count. A lot more thought goes into each shot, therefore it makes it much more of an experience and a memory.

Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?

Dan: I have a specific lab that I have been working with for quite some time now. I prefer there techniques and final products to others’. The nice thing about finding a lab that you really like is that you can talk to the developers to have the photos come out the way you prefer. So, yes, I have my images printed at the lab where they are processed. Maybe in the future, I will start developing and printing myself.

What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?

Dan: As I said before, film is what I use to document experience, people, and places I visit. It is more authentic to me, and I value the process and the final product, which are both sentimental to me.

Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?

Dan: I would not say there were any photographers that have influenced my style of photography. I photograph what I see at the moment, in the perspective that best works for me. Of course there are artists who I adore, such as Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Bill Cunningham, Terry Richardson, David LaChappelle, and much more.

Do you see any value shooting with film? 

Dan: Value? More like an incurring cost. Merits? Cool photos.

But, the values and merits are the satisfaction I get from taking my photos and knowing that they are tangible, and are a memory imprinted into something real, not digital. I would not necessarily say I value my film photos any more than my digital ones. I just feel more involved with the process of photography when it comes to shooting film.

What do you think is the future of film photography?

Dan: That is hard to say. The film community is definitely growing rapidly from hipsters in Brooklyn to even professional photographers who are still shooting film for major publications. As time goes by, and more people are introduced to this medium, it will start growing.

It is the duty of film photographers to keep the legacy going. Sharing, inspiring, and keeping this medium in production is the key to its longevity.

What’s your dream photography project?

Dan: High-end fashion via medium or large format film.

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?

Dan: Make sure you have a job first, it definitely adds up quick when you start shooting a lot of film and do not do your own processing. But, if you are interested, then just do it. Go to an antique store, and find anything you can. Or, do some research and buy something entry level online like an AE-1, or something similar.

Buy some film, load it, shoot it, and send it off to the lab. Find a local lab that you can build a relationship with and get to know the process. If there are no independent labs that process film, start off with a basic processing process from Walgreens or a similar store.

I would agree with what Dan has suggested about having a job if you plan to jump into film photography. Because it's important for us to safeguard our finances. It is rather unrealistic to jump into something that may be a bit costly when you are worrying about what to put on the table.

Very well articulated, Dan.

If you want to follow Dan, you can catch him hopping between these Instagram accounts, explorewithfilm and lightsensitivity.

Check out his website as well.


Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Daniel Zisman. He devoted his time and worked hard on these photographs. 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 Daniel Zisman. 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 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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