Interview with MARCUS ROSALES, USA

Photography is always a constant process of self improvement, so I try not to be so hard on myself all the time.


Hi, Marcus! Thanks for your time, man! Please tell us who you are and how you got yourself shooting with film.


Marcus: Hello! My name is Marcus Rosales and I am a film photographer located in Southern California (just a few miles from Los Angeles city). It comes across as a surprise to many people that being barely turned 19 years old, I am a strict and very passionate film shooter for the past 3 years. In this day and age, many people would find millennials using the vast variety of hi-tech digital cameras or be simply using film cameras purely for “aesthetic reasons,” heavily influenced by today’s social media expectations. But being a street photographer at heart, my aim is to use film photography and all its characteristics to fully facilitate my creativity and allow to express myself in my own vision. In my opinion, I have learned very early in my photography career that the film medium is a very rewarding and beautiful art form that teaches the pure fundamentals of photography.


What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?


Marcus: Being mostly a street photographer, I have always preferred black and white over color negative/slide film. But on occasion, whenever I’m on vacation or doing an impromptu photo shoot for people who constantly beg me to take photos of them (because I’m that “cool photographer friend”), I would use Kodak’s Portra line for 35mm whether it be 160, 400 or 800 ASA. After many trials and errors with both cameras and film stocks, I have settled on the Leica M3 and Kodak TriX 400. The reason I love the Leica M3 (not because the general stigma that Leica cameras are the best) was partly because it shares one crucial quality with my very first camera that got me into film photography. It has simplicity! Like my first camera, the Olympus OM-1, it only had the bare essentials. Dials for shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Although, the OM-1 has a very excellent metering system unlike the Leica M3 which lacks an internal meter. This didn’t bother me at all for I actually prefer shooting at 1600 ASA (so the only tool for exposure that I need is the good ol’ Sunny 16 rule).


Another reason I prefer the M3 is because I prefer rangefinders over single lens reflex cameras. I love the ease of composition I have when I can see subjects outside my frame lines. Another reason is that I have not-so-great eyesight and I unfortunately have trouble focusing with a SLR. No worries though because the M3 paired with a 50mm lens is absolutely heaven in my opinion.


Almost forgot about film! My optimal black and white film choice is Kodak TriX 400. I get really good contrast and fine grain especially when pushing it to very high speeds such as 1600 and 3200 ASA. I say “optimal” because there are times where being a college student impedes on my financial ability to acquire my favorite black and white film stock. So sadly I use whatever I can. I rather be shooting whatever I can get my hands on than not be shooting at all!



What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?



Marcus: While also teaching the fundamentals of photography, there is an important aspect that film retains that trumps over the digital medium. In the perspective of any street photographer, using film urges the photographer to practice the important characteristics of patience as well as intuition. Not being able to immediately see your photos as well as not being distracted by an LCD screen allows photographers to be fully immersed in the environment they are shooting in. No distractions better help facilitate creativity and alertness in any photographer! With the right gear in hand, I can allow myself to become more aware of the events around me and “read” the overall mood in any given situation so that I can position myself properly and take the photo when the timing is right.


Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?

Marcus: This is a tricky question because I do both! It’s all about the trust you have in your own skills and the skills of the lab/darkroom you choose to send over your precious rolls of film. Although I do all my black and white developing at home, I sometimes don’t have the time or energy to do my own printing, so I have a lab/darkroom do it instead. But an important aspect to keep in mind is having your work developed and printed somewhere else will mean you won’t have your own artistic influence and alterations that makes your own work unique. So if you want to keep the continuity of your own personal style, develop the necessary skills to do your own printing and developing at home.



What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?


Marcus: Seeing other people’s photography definitely influence and motivates me to go out and shoot more! Though because of this, I have unfortunately learned that when it comes to photography, I can be very competitive (in a borderline healthy way). I am always self critical and constantly go over how I could have “shot the scene better.” But I know that photography is always a constant process of self improvement so I try not to be so hard on myself all the time.


Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?


Marcus: My absolute favorite photographers are Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, Donna Ferrato, Kevin Carter, and John Free. But it is always good to constantly expose yourself to new photographers so you always have fresh perspective and influence!


Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?


Marcus: While also teaching the fundamentals of photography, there is an important aspect that film retains that trumps over the digital medium. In the perspective of any street photographer, using film urges the photographer to practice the important characteristics of patience as well as intuition. Not being able to immediately see your photos as well as not being distracted by an LCD screen allows photographers to be fully immersed in the environment they are shooting in. No distractions better help facilitate creativity and alertness in any photographer! With the right gear in hand, I can allow myself to become more aware of the events around me and “read” the overall mood in any given situation so that I can position myself properly and take the photo when the timing is right.



What do you think your future is like with film photography?


Marcus: I'm studying to obtain my masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and hopefully get work with non-profit organizations overseas! From there I would want to further continue and improve my photography enough to create my very own photo book of countries I travel to in which I can publish. In the meantime my goal is to publish zines of my photography and hopefully have my work featured in a gallery in downtown LA. Fingers crossed!


What’s your dream photography project?



Marcus: My dream photography project is to publish a photobook on Post-USSR countries and the overlooked street life. Or maybe a series on rural India. I have a whole array of ideas and I know I can be ambitious most of the time but hey, a boy can only dream.


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?



Marcus: My advice to beginners is: don’t hesitate and jump right in. That’s what I did. I was a foolish and stubborn teenager (still am) that didn’t know squat about exposure or composition. Mistakes is inevitable but learn to embrace and cherish them! Only from mistakes you truly learn. In the words of the great Bob Ross “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” Even the greatest of photographers made mistakes! Another piece of advice is to utilize the internet and social media. There is a wide abundance of useful information as well as informative and supportive photographers who are willing to help you on your journey (including me!)


I hope I was able to provide some helpful information or at least inspire you guys! #filmforever


Hop on to Marcus' black and white photos here and for his colour ones, jump right over here.


Outstanding work, Marcus, and very helpful insights. Cheers for being the first one to share your thoughts on film photography this year.


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Be considerate. All photographs shown on this page are the sole property of Marcus Rosales. He devoted his time, and worked so damn hard making these photographs. Please do not 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 Marcus Rosales. Don't be malicious. 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 mapamelvin@gmail.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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Cheers!

Mel


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