I feel that the entire process of film photography is something unique and special that needs to be preserved.
Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Dennis: A few years back I started with digital photography. After three years of shooting digital I was browsing on Flickr one day and I noticed that most of the black and white photos that I really liked were shot on film. I was already interested in black and white and used Lightroom and Silver FX pro. Around that time I was handed a Mamiya M645 medium format camera and I immediately fell in love.
The build quality, how it felt in my hands, how it shot, but also the images it made. It really was everything I wanted, but I didn’t know it until then. I started shooting both digital and analog, but one year ago I decided to sell all my digital gear. I only shoot analog now.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Dennis: I've tried a lot of different types of film, but I like Ilford Hp5 the most in all formats. It’s super versatile, you can shoot it at a wide range of asa and you can use a lot of different developers (which I like to try out). I also really like the negatives it gives me.
The cameras that I use are an Intrepid 4x5 large format camera, a Hasselblad 503 CX medium format camera and a Hasselblad Xpan 35mm panorama camera.
I like these cameras because of the way they shoot and the images and the negative ratio they provide.
With a large format camera like the Intrepid you have to take your time, slow down and make a lot of choices before taking a shot.
A 35mm camera like the Hasselblad Xpan is much more practical in the way it shoots and easy to travel with. The 503 CX also shoots really nice and different than the other cameras I own. What I also like about it is that the format is square and that it gives you big negatives to print.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Dennis: Film feels like magic to me, it’s organic. From loading the film to the final print. You have so many different steps and choices you can make: cameras, lenses, film and developers. It really creates a personal piece of work. That’s a feeling that I will never be able to get with digital photography.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Dennis: Recently I started printing in my own darkroom and like the process a lot. It gives me the chance to make my work even more personal and have full control over the final print. Honestly, I can spend hours in the darkroom looking through negatives and make prints. The feeling that you’ve made the print with your own hands really is an added value to me.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
Dennis: It never gets boring to me, because there’s always something to do when shooting film. For instance going out to search for light, exploring a new location, developing film or making prints in the darkroom. It’s the entire process of shooting film that I love and keeps me going. I find shooting film extremely versatile. Besides the look and the quality of film images that’s also one of the things that motivates me to continue shooting film.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Dennis: Yes sure, there are a lot of photographers that I like. Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier Bresson and Antoine D’Agata are just a few photographers that inspire me. I also regularly visit exhibitions to see different types of photography like landscapes, street photography and portraits.
Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?
Dennis: Of course. I feel that the entire process of film photography is something unique and special that needs to be preserved in a time that everyone has a camera at hand (in their smartphone). It’s kind of similar to playing vinyl instead of streaming music. Both are fine, but the experience is different.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Dennis: In the near future I’m planning to do less scanning of negatives into digital files and do more darkroom printing to improve my printing skills.
What’s your dream photography project?
Dennis: I don’t have a specific dream project, but I would like to shoot & travel more and of course exhibit my work offline.
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?
Dennis: Just buy a 35mm camera like a Nikon Fm, which is a super camera that handles well. Get some film and start to shoot. There are plenty of videos on YouTube on developing film that you can learn from. It might sound like a cliche, but my experience is that you get better from making mistakes. There’s a lot of fun in that process I believe.
Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Dennis van Agthoven. He devoted his time, and worked so damn hard in making 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 Dennis van Agthoven. 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 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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