The one thing I can say film has taught me is not to overthink things and to slow everything down a bit.
Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Jose: My name is Jose Salazar, I was born and raised in San Diego, California. I got into photography when I purchased a little Canon t3i with a kit lens off of craigslist a couple of years ago. After a couple months to maybe a year I felt like the digital route wasn't really for me and I ended up selling the camera to a friend of mine. Later on down the line I scored a Canon AE1 and ever since then I have not put film down.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Jose: Most of the time I cycle between a Nikonos ii and V in the water, and on land I shoot with a Minolta srt101. For a while I was stuck on just constantly shooting expired Kodak Gold 400 just because my local camera store has it by the boatload, but lately I've shifted over to shooting Portra 400 and whatever other random rolls my local camera store has. I fell in love with the grain I was getting from shooting the expired and color shifts I was getting from it but I equally loved the vivid colors and low contrast I was getting with Portra.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Jose: To me personally, I feel like shooting film. Takes more thought into the process. Shooting digital is great and all, but to me there's just something special about having to really think out those 36 shots. I've just never really been attracted to the whole spray and pray, hoping that out of the 30 frame burst you did you can take one home and work up some of that post production "magic" until it looks presentable. I really love how slow you have to take it with film, you play out whatever concept you have in your mind whether it be people interacting, people surfing or waves breaking and you wait until some form of whatever it is in your mind plays out in front of your eyes and you take your shot.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Jose: I currently take my rolls into my local camera store, if I had the time and space I would most definitely self develop!
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Jose: I really enjoy the memories I can revisit from looking at a photo iIve taken, I love the fact that flipping through them is pretty much a mental time machine. Definitely, the one thing I can say film has taught me is not to overthink things and to slow everything down a bit. In other words not to be in such a rushed state of mind, value the little moments you get because time is precious.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Jose: Not much a single photographer but generally anyone who shoots water or underwater photography. I really draw inspiration from anyone who is willing to jumping in freezing cold water in the early hours of the morning and try and capture something unique. For sure the nikonos community as a whole has definitely sparked me up to go out and have fun with it.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Jose: More or less just for my self, I haven't really found anything that's as exciting as getting back a couple of rolls and seeing some shots that in your head you're like "wow that actually ended up coming out rad!". I feel like the end goal is that you were able to actually create something that satisfies you personally, it really is the best feeling.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Jose: I hope that I'm lucky enough to be able to do it for the rest of my life.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Jose: Not so much a project but If I'm able to make anything out of this hobby I'd be happy. If nothing ever really comes from it and I never see one thing come out of it I'd be just as happy. To me being able to jump in the water take a couple photos create some memories and say hi to a couple friends is satisfying enough, anything else is a added bonus.
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?
Jose: DO IT! The mistakes are part of the process, don't overthink it. I feel like many people are so caught up with worrying about what other will think about their photos or if they don't have the skill to do it. It doesn't matter, do it to create memories that you'll be able to look back on, most importantly do it for yourself. As far as learning, photography basics books and PDFs are easily available online, you can learn everything you need before you even touch a camera. For me the best way to learn is to just jump straight into it.
Photographers around the world are finding ways to keep themselves busy during this lockdown/ pandemic, 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?
Jose: Actually..funny enough for most of this crazy quarantine I was stuck in Guatemala surfing and shooting photos, my trip was supposed to be 8 days and it ended up being 3 months. Their lockdown restrictions didn't really get too crazy until maybe the last 3 weeks of my trip. I was lucky enough that when I got back home San Diego had just come off lockdown and everyone was able to go back to the beach and enjoy surfing again.
Anything you want to add? Future exhibits, projects you're currently busy with? Anything…
Jose: I recently just started a little website as a way of organizing my stuff and trying to sell some prints. Besides that, mainly just continue what I'm doing, shooting as much as I can keeping my self stoked on.
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!
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