Becoming self-sufficient with creating images on film was definitely a big step-forward for me, and I would recommend anyone with the same interest to consider getting their hands dirty as well.
Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Jace: My name is Jace Martin. I’m originally from Australia, but I’m currently living in Saigon, Vietnam, as an English teacher.
While I was studying at university, I inherited a few thousand slides, a suitcase of cameras, and an old super 8mm camera from my grandfather which peaked my interest in film photography. It took me a good few months, and hours researching online, to work out what everything was, but after finally developing a roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 in an old East German Exakta it made me aware of the potential of the medium and the beauty of the old gear.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Jace: After collecting a bunch of cameras and experimenting with different films and developers, I wanted to make an effort to work more simply to better understand my gear and the results I was getting. I started to limit myself to HP5+ and FP4+, developed in Rodinal, for the majority of my work. I’ve also almost exclusively been using the Pentax 67 with the 105mm f2.4 lens for the past year.
I felt becoming familiar and comfortable with what I was shooting with was another way to remove the barrier between yourself and your subject. Also, keeping my workflow consistent has helped me to smooth out any issues I was having with gear, and focus more on what I wanted to convey in the shot.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Jace: I’m slightly hesitant to answer this because it’s a bit of a loaded question that many others have elaborated on far better than I could. I think though that traditional photography gives photographers a history and medium that will always be relevant, because it offers a choice in the same way that a pen, typewriter, or word processor does to a writer.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Jace: Now that I’m lucky enough to have the facilities to develop and scan my own film, I only rely on the labs to process my C41 and E6 stock (when I shoot it). I do print with a 35mm enlarger at times, but since most of my work has been on medium format, any printing I do at the moment is from a digital scan.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Jace: I’m constantly surprised by the way in which portraiture helps to clarify your own intentions, and allows you to understand yourself through other people. When I combine that with the process of shooting and developing film, the personal aspect that goes into the production of the images is highlighted for me. I think this also is why I prefer to work one-on-one with models, with only natural light, and mostly in black and white; there’s an extension of simplicity that come with these limitations that I find important when shooting and creating, something that I had to shoot lots to discover.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Jace: Too many to name here. Even searching film hashtags on Instagram is always motivating. I also find the old pictorialist incredibly inspiring, and I find a lot to like in their formal considerations of painting and other art forms.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Jace: I came from a media production background, and something that my older peers would consistently say is that shooting on film ‘teachers you to stop and think’. This seems to be a platitude, but obviously with most cliches there is truth there. I think that what can be seen as a limitation from a digital perspective is really the space in which creativity and understanding of photography comes from, and something that may be harder to come by with digital. Conversely though, I think what can be learnt from shooting on film initially can very easily be transferred to shooting digitally, but not so much vice versa.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Jace: At the moment I’m more trying to find the time to shoot as much as I want, which is a project in itself. Beyond that, I would like to move into large format photography in the future when I can properly invest in the equipment. I hope to continue shooting 100% film for my personal work.
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?
Jace: I think that if you are interested, enamoured, and seriously considering traditional photography, learning to develop your own film is one of the best ways to understand and appreciate the process. Becoming self-sufficient with creating images on film was definitely a big step-forward for me, and I would recommend anyone with the same interest to consider getting their hands dirty as well.
Cheers for spending time in sharing your ideas here, Jace! We really appreciate your thoughts and your stunning set of photographs.
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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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