Interview with LEFTERIS KAZAKOS, GREECE
Photography will always have a purpose in my life.
Hi, Lefteris! Tell us a brief story about yourself and how you got into film photography?
Lefteris: Hey! I’m Lefteris Kazakos. Born in Italy, raised in Germany and now living in Athens, Greece. I got in photography via a girl I used to hang out with who was studying photography. She honored me by lending me one of her digital cameras. I started experimenting with it but could not create anything that really pleased me unless I heavily Photoshopped it. I was lucky because my father used to experiment with this medium back in the ‘80s and so I ended up with seven analog cameras. I took the Pentax MX, put a roll of Kodak color film in it and went out for a walk. I tried to wind back the film to take one or two
double exposures but by mistake I ended up having half the roll double exposed. This happy mistake composed my first ever photo where I was completely happy with the result.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Lefteris: By the time I shot my first roll of b&w film I realized I was done with color. My now favorites are expired Svema FN64 35mm stock when I am looking for a more experimental look and KODAK Trix because how well it responds in terms of grain structure and contrast when I push it all the way to 12800 and above, developing times for KODAK Trix are also neat! When it comes to picking up a camera I always reach out for my beloved Ricoh XR2. Its heaviness allows no blurry shots when firing with low speeds and also because of its double exposure function.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Lefteris: One’s certain: you become a better photographer. With digital in order to achieve a certain result you just have to look at the screen, with film you have to learn all the parameters which affect a simple image. No preview screen means you have to think before you shoot, even when you are using a light meter its eventually useless if you can’t literally read light with you own eyes. Film, mainly because of its costs, also limits the number of shots you can take per roll, that means you don’t just press the shutter button anytime, you have to be absolutely sure about your photo before you take it. Film focuses on quality while most digital photographers focus on quantity. At the final stage no words can describe the joy when taking your film out of your reel and seeing your images after all the waiting till development, the final act isn’t just inserting a memory card on your computer.
Now besides the, so many times noted, organic look film grain adds to the aesthetic quality of the photo, with film you get way more intimate with your work. The whole process of making a photo the analog way is more complex, time consuming and expensive than making one with a digital camera. Hard work makes a both a success and a failure affect you more deeply.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Lefteris: I’m not comfortable at all having my photos printed in a lab, especially if some may be too personal to share with people I’m not related at any level. That’s one of the reasons I’m planning on buying an enlarger and start finally making prints the old school way.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Lefteris: New people I welcome in my life, new adventures I force myself into and new places I explore. As long as I live and feel something I’ll have to express it somehow and through photography is one way to do it. For me the main purpose of this medium the act of immortalizing a certain important feeling or moment. As long as certain moments happen and certain feelings arise, photography will always have a purpose in my life. Via the whole analog process I’ve realized how much of a perfectionist I’m trying to be and that I’m really
afraid of failure. “Perfect” is nothing but a non-achievable ideal. Trying to accomplish it is what gets out of bed every day, but you have to learn to be happy with your work and with yourself in general at any given time, no matter how far away from any ideal you find yourself to be. The point isn’t bringing to light something that’s prefect, but something that’s and honest reflection of who we are.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Lefteris: Honestly, I don’t have any photographer that I am influenced by. The way I depict reality through the lens is mainly influenced by the way its depicted on paper by philosophers and writers I admire.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Lefteris: Besides the before noted values, the most important one is that film is simply built to last. Unless your whole house if burned to the ground you’ll never lose your memories.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Lefteris: I don’t know, I can’t predict anything and I don’t want to be able to predict anything. I’ll just try my best with this medium and see what works and what not.
What’s your dream photography project?
Lefteris: To try to depict literature and mainly poetry trough film. Don’t yet know how or if it’ll work because of the different way a photo and written page depict and express reality, but combining them both in a certain way may open the possibility for a more intense narrative.
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?
Lefteris: They don’t really have to learn much besides the basics of exposure and that is metering, speed and depth of field. By the time someone learns these, he just has to grab his camera and go out. There’s no real need in taking photography lessons or asking for advice. What’s important in creating your own style is simply the will to experiment and get wiser along the way with the mistakes experimentation carries. This simple process will help you learn whatever you need in order to achieve your individual goals.
Are there anything you want to share with us?
Lefteris: I’m currently working on two new zines. One’s called “Semper Fidelis” and it’s about the relationship with my three-legged- no-tail cat. The other which still doesn’t have a name is about how the city of Athens may look to someone with agoraphobia. For the second zine most of the photos I’m piling up are double exposures or abstract shots taken mainly at night with B&W films pushed to 12800 or higher. Besides my personal work, with a buddy of mine, we launched an analog photography magazine based here in Greece called “Turnover Mag” and we’re planning on printing our first issue in the near future.
Melvin thanks for contacting me! I really value your support! Keep up the good work!
Many thanks, Lefteris! These insights are really helpful for us and good luck working on the zines. Keep us posted.
Catch up with Lefteris on Instagram and check out some of the remarkable film photographs from his magazine, Turnover Mag.
Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Lefteris Kazakos. He devoted his time and worked hard on these photographs. You are not allowed to copy, download, reproduce, reprint, modify, distribute, publicly display, license, transfer or sell content retrieved from this page in any way, for any public or commercial use or to any commercial source, including other websites, without prior written permission of Lefteris Kazakos. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?
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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