Updated: Oct 30, 2017
My work improved significantly when I started shooting film.
Please tell us something about yourself, Jen, and your journey into film photography?
Jen: My name is Jennifer and I live in Austin, Texas with my college sweetheart turned husband, our super fun 2 year old daughter, and my first born - a 12 year old rescue pup! I am a creative manager by day and "retired" professional family photographer - taking a break to spend more time with my family.
I wish I knew exactly what it was that got me into film. I was a professional photographer for a year before I started dabbling it in. I bought a Lomography Diana+ and fell in love with it. I started experimenting more and more with it. Learned the difference between film types. And used my knowledge of digital photography to expand my film work. I learned a lot those first few months just be experimenting. Film sort of became my signature. Sure there were other film photographers, but not many. I became that girl who took her plastic camera or super old 35mm SLR everywhere. Now, I know no other way.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Jen: I don't discriminate when it comes to film or cameras. That's the beauty of film, in my opinion. Every film looks slightly different - but put in different light, you'd be amazed. And cameras...I believe that each camera has an unique signature. My Diana+ holds a very special place in my heart because it's the camera that got me into film. So that one is high on my list. I also have a Canon AT-1 (SLR from the 70s) and I absolutely adore it.
If I had to pick one type of film, it would be Lomography 400. I think it's very underrated film.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Jen: Soul. Film is dreamy. Film has life. It's complete as-is. And it's forgiving. Soft focus and over exposure work with film. And provide an entirely different element that you just can't get with digital - no matter how many presets you buy and tweak. With film - I don't edit my work. Ever. It doesn't need it. It's has depth and soul all on it's own. I know...I sound over the top, but it's truly how I feel about it.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Jen: I wish I was able to develop my own. I live in a little place in the city - so not a lot of room. But, the good news is I have a few labs I trust dearly. And thankfully, one of them is local, so I literally get to walk in and talk to them about it!
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film?
Jen: Oh goodness. I really know no other way of life. I'm a creative person by nature - so doing something with that creativity is part of who I am as a person. Literally my entire adult life, I've been documenting my surroundings on film. Film has definitely taught me a lot about myself. I've learned that while I live a lot of my life by the rules, when it comes to photography, I prefer not to. It's almost in a way my own version of rebelling?
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Jen: I'm not sure. There are definitely photographers that I admire. But I don't know if my work has been influenced by them or not. I am influenced and motivated by other art: mostly music. When I hear a song or even a poem, sometimes I cant help but pull pieces of that feeling into my photographs.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Jen: I do. It's not to say that if you don't shoot film, you aren't good. There are some AMAZING photographers who are afraid of film. But with film you can't be snap happy. You HAVE to be mindful of what you shoot, how you shoot, the lighting, etc. Personally, my work improved significantly when I started shooting film. I found myself feeling more, shooting less (not less often, just less clicks), and in return, my photographs are more meaningful.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Jen: Never ending. I don't ever see myself not shooting film. I hope I will continue to grow and push myself.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Jen: I have a few project ideas - I keep a list of them and try to cross them off little by little. One thing I want to do, that I needed to get started on this winter is do a 35mm double exposure project. Shoot an entire roll in the month of December. Then shoot over it in July. A winter/summer of the same scenery. I think it could be a lot of fun. Or total disaster. Who knows?!
Would you like to offer a few words of wisdom to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Jen: Just do it. If the curiosity is there, jump on that. I think curiosity is more important than knowledge when you first start. Sometimes learning the rules too much can intimidate someone. If you understand the basics of light, that's really all you need. But even if you don't know the basics, you can still go for it. My advice would be to not have any exceptions, read up on some basics of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture (just the basics - don't get crazy!), then find a lab (local if possible) and develop a relationship with them. They can give you pointers if you need it and ask for it. But bottom line, just have fun. My motto in life is: what's the point if you're not having fun? Don't turn it into a chore. Don't think. Just shoot. And enjoy it!
It's true what they say, if you’re not having fun, find out why and change what needs changing. I guess that's what pushes film photographers to continue shooting with film. It's fun! And if it isn’t for you anymore, take a break. It's your life, your photography. You get to shoot it.
Jen launched her first ever zine called Film and the Girl. She plans to turn it into a quarterly zine with different themes each issue. Watch out for that!
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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 email@example.com 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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