Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I really enjoy that sense of peace and calmness I experience when shooting film.
Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Joel: My name is Joel Magid. I am a native Floridian but I have spent the last four years living in Asia as an English teacher. I discovered my affinity for photography while living in South Korea. I was originally more focused on digital photography and creating long exposure cityscapes. It wasn’t until I met my good friend, and incredibly talented film photographer, Ali Safavi, that I really began to explore this medium. We play in a band together and he would bring his Canonet QL17 to practices and gigs and I would frequently ask him questions about film photography. He definitely helped peak my interest. Once I bought my first Minolta camera at a local camera store in Busan, South Korea, I was hooked and I haven’t looked back.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Joel: I really enjoy experimenting with different films, especially expired film lately. I do not have a specific “go to” film. I use really cheap films like C200 but I also experiment with more expensive films like Portra 400 and Cinestill. I really enjoy testing out different films to see the different kinds of looks I can get. You can get vastly different colors and subtle nuances using different films. It is always so exciting to see the image you had in your head turn into something totally outside of your expectations because the film in your camera helped the image take on new life.
I use a Minotla XG1 and a Canonet QL17. They are both fantastic cameras. I like having the flexibility of using an SLR and a rangefinder. I am able to achieve different outcomes based on the camera I am using that day.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Joel: I believe film photography allows for a sense of mindfulness when taking photos. It is far too easy when shooting digitally to take 100s or 1,000s of photos at a time to make sure you “get the shot.” Film photography doesn’t allow for that. You have to take your time. Experience life around you and learn to appreciate your surroundings to allow the images to appear before you. I also develop my own film so I really enjoy sitting in the dark room winding the film onto the spool. It is a very calming and relaxing experience that helps me tune out the rest of the world and focus on what I am doing at that present moment. Having control over the entire process is a really rewarding experience. It is always such an amazing experience to take the roll of film out of the development tank and you are able to see your negatives for the first time. I always get a feeling of anxiety and adrenaline that I never experience when shooting digitally.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Joel: I have actually never printed my own photographs or had them printed in a lab. It is something I hope to do in the near future because I am eager to see my photographs in print, but for now, I will just appreciate them digitally.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Joel: I really enjoy that sense of peace and calmness I experience when shooting film. It feels very different compared to shooting digitally. I take my time and become one with my surroundings. It is a form of mediation for me so I do not see giving this hobby up any time soon.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Joel: My two favorite film photographers are Joel Meyerowitz and Fan Ho. Joel Meyerowitz is a fantastic street photographer and the way he explains his approach to photography is exactly what I strive for when I go out for a day of shooting. He describes his process as being awakened to what is around him. He just happens to be in the right place at the right time as an image is unfolding and he is able to sense that “A-ha!” moment as it happens. I am also extremely influenced by Fan Ho and his usage of light. He was able to produce photographs with unbelievable contrast which is something I am always striving for.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Joel: I think shooting with film gives the user an entirely new perspective on taking photographs. It allows you to be in-tune with what you are creating. I try to embrace the medium of shooting on film and allow the images to present themselves to me. My mindset is completely different compared to when I shoot with a digital camera. I think it is a good exercise for every photographer to gain a different perspective.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Joel: I hope that more people continue to shoot with film. I get questions frequently about why I choose to shoot film. I think more people are starting to awaken to the idea of creating something with their own hands. In a digital world, it is easy to lose that sense of ownership in what we are creating. I think film photography allows us to step back and appreciate the process of creating photographs a bit more. I hope this trend continues in the future.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Joel: My dream project currently is to create a photography zine of my work. I am currently living in Vietnam so I would like to document daily life in an interesting way, utilizing the zine format to the best of my ability. I am still working on the exact theme but it will come to me… hopefully sooner than later. Be on the lookout ;)
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?
Joel: I do not think there are too many tips or tricks. It can be a little bit scary at first, you know, getting exposures wrong, missing focus, etc. but I think it is best to just get out and shoot. I would definitely look through your cameras manual before starting. I think you can still find the manuals for a lot of older cameras online. It is important to know how to operate the camera, things such as: how to load the film, change the exposure, aperture, shutter speed, adjusting the ISO for the film you are using, etc. Other than that, just get out and shoot. Have some fun with it!
Photographers around the world are finding ways to keep themselves busy during this lockdown, and coming up with activities to make self-isolation a bit more interesting. What are your ways to keep busy while you have to stay at home?
Joel: Great question, I have not been doing any photography since being in isolation. However, I have been planning a few photography projects I’d like to tackle in the coming months. This time has given me the opportunity to reflect and envision how my photography will evolve. I’ve also had more time to work on writing music, another passion of mine, as well as personal growth. I’ve been using my free time to meditate and self-reflect to become more attune to the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It’s all about discovering the silver-lining in times of stress. I’m just trying to be as productive as possible during this time. Hopefully I can get out and shoot soon:)
Cheers for spending time in sharing your insights here, Joel! We really appreciate your thoughts and your stunning set of photographs. Please stay safe and stay healthy!
Do catch Joel on Instagram and check out more of his stunning photographs posted there.
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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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