I sometimes feel as if my camera and I are a team, and I wish this to happen to other people as well.
Please tell us something about yourself, Louise, and your journey into film photography?
Louise: My name is Louise Claire Wagner, I was born and raised in Basel, Switzerland and I am currently living in Paris, France. I became interested in film photography around the same time that I developed an interest for photography in general. I was about 16 years old when I discovered my passion, while trying out my friend's Nikon D60. When I told my father about it, he willingly lent me his old Nikon lenses that fit on a digital camera, as well as his Nikon FE2. He had only one condition: that he would teach me the art of photography from the ground up. This way, I was guaranteed to understand how every little feature of the camera works, as well as the importance of lighting and time. At that time, we would develop our films in my home’s closet, and we would go to a darkroom nearby to develop our own prints. This period strongly influenced my general approach to photography, as well as my understanding of film photography. I have actually never shot with an other analog camera other than the one that my dad gave me back in the days.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Louise: As I mentioned, I always use the same Nikon FE2 that I first began shooting with. I typically shoot in black and white, and I tend to use ILFORD HP5 PLUS because I feel that it best suits my camera and I. Recently, I've also started using colour films, mainly PORTRA 400 and FUJIFILM NATURA, as both of them have a very nice and subtle colour effect. My previous trial was an ILFORD DELTA 400, which I actually liked a lot. So who knows, I might change my habits in the future.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Louise: Firstly, the results are not the same at all. There is the beautiful effect of grain that is never quite the same with digital photography. Furthermore, the approach is unparalleled. Film requires that you consider lightning, angles, and perspectives more carefully before taking a picture. For me, film photography is a way of "going back to the basics“ and taking your time to capture a moment, especially in today's society when everything moves so quick.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Louise: I am not really comfortable with having my photographs printed in a lab, but nevertheless I have them printed in a lab. Here in Paris I unfortunately still haven’t found a darkroom that I can join, and I don’t really have the space to build one at home. Although I miss the darkroom, and I would love to print my photographs by myself again.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Louise: Film photography helps me get back to the source. It allows me to think about my photography, and to give each of my captures a special meaning. However, I've learned that in my daily life I need to use both film and digital. In some situations I work much faster with my digital camera, and therefore I don’t miss some of the captures that I would miss if using my analog camera.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Louise: Not really, or perhaps unconsciously. I find most inspiration in my environment: in nature, human beings, and what human beings create. Musicians might actually influence my photography more than photographers.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Louise: Yes, I think it is more characteristic, and it enlarges your knowledge.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Louise: I think that my future with film photography will be similar to that of my past. There will be times that I'll shoot more in film, and times that I'll shoot more in digital. And who knows, maybe one day I'll finally set up a lab in my bathroom!
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Louise: It’s not exactly a dream project, since I would like to create it sooner or later. But indeed, I do have a photography project in mind, which I want to produce with film, probably even in colour.
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?
Louise: It is necessary to give yourself enough time to get initiated. In the end, it's not only a question of knowledge. The relationship between your camera and yourself, and between (film) photography and yourself, is just as important. I sometimes feel as if my camera and I are a team, and I wish this to happen to other people as well.
Cheers for sharing these valuable insights, Louise.
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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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