I just love how personal film is.
Welcome, Kerren. We're excited to have you here to share your insights on film photography. Mind telling us a bit about yourself and your journey into film photography?
Kerren: My name is Keren Hitterman. I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and moved to Toronto back in 2015. Since I was very young, I was always interested in cameras. My father is a hobbyist photographer, so he taught me how to properly use a camera. In 2014 I took a black and white film photography course, and that is when I learned to really shoot on film. About a year ago, I stopped doing photography for work and only for myself, and I have not picked up a digital camera since.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Keren: My favourite camera for 35mm film is the Nikon FM2, and my favourite camera for 120 film is the Hasselblad 500cm. The Nikon FM2 is my go to camera, because it is light, I can take it anywhere. It also became really useful for shooting at night, because its internal lightmeter uses a LED light. When it came to medium format I was looking for a camera that was good for portraits, and then found a good deal on a 500cm. Once I started using it, I just fell in love. I like to shoot mostly Kodak film, I am a big fan of Kodak Gold, Colorplus, and Ektar.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Keren: With film there has to be a desire to learn, but there is also a huge acceptance of error and experimenting in film, and an amazing community in which to learn from.
When shooting portraits, film forces you to communicate with your subject, and you have to both trust each other about the outcome. It just forces you to think about what you are shooting a little more, especially if you do not have an extra roll of film on you. I was once at this neon photography event, and I was the only one shooting film. That was the moment that I noticed how little people think about what they are shooting, they just hope to capture something. I was sitting there, framed and waiting for the model to move a specific way, while they were just firing shot after shot, non stop.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Keren: I have personally never tried printing in a lab. My father is still very into analog photography as well. So he set up a huge printer in our basement in Montreal. I usually get him to print for me, as he understands what I want out as an end result. I have recently gotten my own printer as well, so I look forward to printing a lot more.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Keren: For me, film photography has been about shooting for myself. I used to shoot digital for work or for other people, and I got caught up in trying to outdo other people. While once I went to film, I only cared about shooting what I wanted to shoot. I just love how personal film is, how I have control over the process and how I am constantly learning when it comes to film, there is always more to learn.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Keren: I don’t think there is anyone specific who has influenced me but rather almost everyone I meet. I take little things from different people and different situations. It could be something someone said to me that inspired a shoot, it could be a song, it could be the way light hits something. I seem to pull inspiration from every aspect of life.
Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?
Keren: With film, you have to really want it. Shooting film is not cheap, so I think it makes you question every shot a little bit more, which in turn forces you to think about what you want to shoot and what style you want that photo to have. It might not always work out, but at least it makes you think about it.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Keren: For me, I don’t think I will ever stop shooting film. It has become a form of inspiration, and motivation for me.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Keren: A dream photography project would be to stay in small towns all over the world for about 2-4 months at a time. Meet the local people, and learn about their different cultures. As well as their way of life, and just photograph it. Have people to be able to feel their stories through my photographs, even if it is just part of their story.
Would you like to share some advice to those who want to try out film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Keren: I am all for people learning to shoot film. Most people I meet who want to try are just too nervous about it or scared to fail. That is what film is about, it is all about learning, trial and error. There are so many great, cheap cameras out there. I say just go grab one and start shooting, because that is how you learn best. The only thing you need to know before shooting film is that you want to do 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?
Keren: For starters, I have finally started catching up on scanning all of my negatives. I was very behind. I recently did my first Facetime shoot which I was very happy with the results. I also use my brother and sister as models for some fun shoots at home, as I decide to come to Montreal to quarantine myself with family.
Anything you want to add? Future exhibits, projects you're currently busy with? Anything…
Keren: A lot of people who start shooting film say that they never know what to take pictures of. I say to just take your camera with you everywhere. Eventually you will see something worth shooting. Till today, I still always have a camera with me, almost everywhere I go.
Thank you for your time, Keren. It's a pleasure having you here and sharing your outstanding work with us.
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