Interview with GAETAN CORMIER, CANADA
People have much to gain by doing film photography.
Pleasure to have you here, Gaetan. Mind telling us about yourself and a brief story on how you got into film photography?
Gaetan: I am a french Canadian born in 1972. I am married to my beautiful wife Marianne and I have 3 daughters with the youngest being 13 years old. Pretty much all my life I was fascinated by cameras. My parents had an old Polaroid camera, 110 format and 126 format. It's only in 1991 that I purchased my first SLR camera, the famous Pentax K1000. It's with this camera that I learned the basics of photography and with the help of the Seattle Filmworks Photography course... by mail haha! I mostly shoot portraits in natural light, some art nudes and landscapes.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Gaetan: I am mostly a medium format shooter. I had so many cameras in the past but right now my main camera for the past two years is my faithful Bronica SQ-A. I am currently planning to add a camera to my bag and it will most probably be the Fuji GS645S. For film I mostly shoot on Ilford Delta 100 and 400 but I do have some FP4 Plus and HP5 Plus on hand. Other than Ilford, I am a big fan of the Shanghai GP3 medium format film. I also shoot some 35mm with the help of my beautiful Contax RTS with Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4. Most of the time my 35mm film of choice is the Fomapan 200.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Gaetan: Like many photographers have said well before me, film photography slows me down. Since we are limited by the amount of shots available on a roll of film, each photo is more prepared, taking the time to measure precisely the light, the composition and so on. It's the element of surprise and processing our own film and the sense of smell is stimulated by the odor of the processing chemicals hahaaha! A computer with digital files cannot give you that hahaha!
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Gaetan: Yes I do my own prints. I have a decent little lab here at home for my film processing and print making. Although I mostly shoot black and white, I do use a Jobo processor (CPA2) for the color work that I do from time to time but, I do not print in color. I also offer lab services for other film photographers of the area.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Gaetan: In the past, I did shoot with semi-pro digital equipment, but I could not do it anymore. I did not find any pleasure to it which is not the case with film photography. Film photography for me is creating an image from start to finish. Each time I get the film out of the developing tank I still and always have the excitement of laying my eyes on the freshly processed frames.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Gaetan: I have a lot of inspiring photographers that I love very much. But I try to be inspired without trying to copy them either!
For landscape work my all time favorite is Michael Kenna. I had the pleasure to see some of his photographs in an exhibition at the Mont Saint-Michel in France that was just amazing! I always really like the photography of Brassaï and Atget. For portrait photography, I really like Jan Scholz, he's truly an amazing photographer. I also find very inspiring the work of Bert Stern, Helmut Newton and Ruth Bernhard.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Gaetan: Like I mentioned earlier, I learned photography back in the early 1990's using a completely mechanical camera is for me the best way to learn for me that's a real value. I often see people buy digital cameras and all they do is put it in full auto mode and don't really care about the rest. It's not the case with everyone, but for a lot of them it is. I think people have much to gain by doing film photography.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Gaetan: My future of film photography is simple. As long as there will be film on this planet, I will shoot it 'til I die! Seriously, I really don't see myself not shooting film anymore. In a near future, I would love to get into old darkroom techniques like salt paper printing, cyanotype and gum oil printing. I find this fascinating. These techniques are more time consuming and right now I really don't have the time for this, but maybe at my retirement in about 25 years!!! ;)
What’s your dream photography project?
Gaetan: Oh! That's a very good question! In the summer of 2016, I went to Britanny in France to visit a good friend of mine and the roots of my family name is in Britanny. So on my trip there I photographed many landscapes. In fact, with this first trip I created my first ever zine! Right now, my project is to go back in Britanny in the summer of 2018 to revisit my good friend and to photograph again. My plan is to finish this project with a photo book and a solo exhibition.
Any good words you want to impart for those who want to try film photography? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Gaetan: I always encourage people to try film photography at least once. You can get a basic 35mm camera and a roll of black and white film for a very low cost. I often even tell people that they can have fun making their own camera by making a very simple pinhole camera that they can shoot using photographic paper, it's so easy and fun and you can actually learn the basics of photography.
Anything you want to add?
Gaetan: The film photography community is amazing. Photographers of all ages usually likes to share tips & tricks about photography so if you are reading this and you are new to film photography, get out there ask questions, seek information, you will find passionate photographers ready to share their experiences with you! I would like to leave you with this beautiful Michael Kenna quote that sums up pretty much what I think about film photography:
"Instant gratification in photography is not something that I need or desire.
I find that the long, slow journey to the final print captivates me far more"
Truly outstanding work, Gaetan! Glad you shared this with us.
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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 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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