Updated: Oct 21, 2017
Film photography puts challenges and problems to achieving a single shot, and it requires self-discipline in order to rise above it.
Aloha, David! Please tell us something about yourself and your journey into film photography?
David: First off, thanks so much for inviting me to participate in this interview. I’m not great at writing so please forgive beforehand. With that being said, thank you in advance for reading a little bit about me and my journey into film photography
I’m an easy-going person. I moved to Hawaii in 2011 and love it here. The beautiful backdrop makes a perfect canvas for me.
I’ve always loved photography. I took photography as an elective in the 8th grade. I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but I loved the process. Later in college (early 90s and digital wasn’t around) I used a Pentax K1000. Did a lot of digital after that until about 7 or 8 years ago when my wife gifted me a Holga 120N. I slowly did more film photography and less and less digital. Now I don’t even use my iPhone camera. I exclusively shoot film.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
David: I’m becoming more and more of a black and white shooter. I haven’t settled on a particular film stock and am not sure that I want to… I don’t want to be limited as an artist. My definite favorites are Ilford HP5 Plus 400 and Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros. I like the timeless look of black and white.
I have lots of cameras. My favorites are my Canon EOS1, Canon Canonete G III QL17, and Mamiya 645 AF. The EOS1 is the most versatile. It’s an EOS, compatible with all the modern Canon lenses. The Canonete is small and easy to take anywhere, and perfect for traveling light. The Mamiya is a medium format camera with excellent glass that is perfect for portraits and landscapes. It’s only drawback is its size and weight.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
David: You “make” a photograph with film, you “take” a photograph with digital and manipulate the image in Photoshop or Lightroom. There’s nothing wrong with digital. For me, it’s the process of making a photograph that draws me to film.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
David: I want to start! Like I’ve said, I’ve done it in school and feel it’s true to the art. We use Richard Photo Lab for all of our color developing and printing. That’s more for our business Oceansareblue.com. We have a fantastic film only photography shop here in Honolulu. Many of the employees are pursuing art and photography degrees at the local university. They are encouraging me to start printing. Anyone can use the darkroom at the community college. So, it’s just a matter of time and finding the time!
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
David: The journey. I love it when I make a great photograph, but of course, I don’t stop. I strive to make a better photograph the next time and will again after that. Film is harder than digital because it requires more thought. I enjoy that challenge. I shoot film for me and really want to be better at it every time I click the shutter. Film requires a lot more thought. There’s no delete button. You really must pay attention to what you’re doing. Film requires you to understand light.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
David: My number one influence is my wife, Jennifer. She is a naturally talented photographer. We are often in the exact same spot, and somehow, she always sees a better subject and composition. My original inspiration was Anton Corbijn. I’m a product of the 80s and alternative music was my thing. His work with U2 and Depeche Mode spoke to me. I love his use of black and white, the grain, high contrast, and edgy look was very alternative compared to the over use of bright, oversaturated colors of pop music at the time.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
David: I think it might be more of a value to the photographer than the viewer. It’s easy to digitally replicate the look of film photography. It’s also easy to spray and pray with digital or look at the LCD after every shot and adjust. Furthermore, it’s easier to correct a bad digital raw file with Photoshop. The value of film to the photographer is that if forces you to MAKE a photograph. A fantastically composed and exposed film photograph is less luck and more deliberate. As one pursues film photography, the better one becomes at photography and honing their skills at reading light. Getting it right in camera lessens the need for Lightroom and Photoshop. Less computer time increases the time for actual photography!
What do you think is the future of film photography?
David: I agree with most that in that #filmisnotdead. In fact, it’s growing. You just have to search the film hashtags on Instagram and you’ll see the number of amazing film photographs being uploaded. It’s ironic that many filters are designed to look like film.
What’s your dream photography project?
David: Traveling the world photographing places and people for a photo book.
Any advice to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
David: If you want to try it, then GO for it!! Don’t worry too much about the gear. Holga 120mm toy cameras and 35mm point-and-shoot cameras are cheap. Lots of online tutorials for beginners so there isn’t an excuse to not jump in… take lots of notes, trial and error.
David's work says a lot about him as a film photographer— disciplined. He has the attitude to stick to his decisions without changing his mind, and is therefore, one of the important things for achieving goals in film photography.
Mahalo, David! I'm glad you shared your insights and work here.
Can't get enough of David's photographs? I'm following him on Instagram. Look for @aloha_dave and be astonished by his photographs posted there. He blogs about his work here as well.
He teams up with his wife, Jennifer. Both are passionate film photographers and they run a website showing their adventures in Oahu, Hawaii. Check it out!
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