Shooting with film makes the photographer distinguish the important things from the unimportant.
Hi, Mike! Tell us a brief story about yourself and how you got into film photography?
Mike: My name is Mike, 27 years old from Athens, Greece, current photography student in Berlin. Back in 2009, while I was a mechanical engineering student, my interest for photography started popping out. I got my first DSLR and started shooting photos, but it was a few months later when I got my hands into my father’s Canon Canonet QL 19 and started shooting film. I haven’t stopped shooting film ever since and I continue doing it with the same passion, excitement and love I had the first time! From the moment I started shooting with film, I was fascinated by black and white photography and by the fact that I could easily develop and print my negatives by myself and also experiment and manipulate the final outcome without using any digital means!
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Mike: After shooting and experimenting with a lot of different types of film, most of them found on ebay, I nowadays mostly use the Kodak Tri-x, the Ilford Delta 400 and the Rollei infrared 400. I like the grain of these films and the contrast they deliver! When it comes to medium format I use a 60 year old-perfectly working Lubitel, a Kiev 60 and a Kodak Brownie 620 (6x9) box camera. Lubitel’s small size and the fact that is a very lightweight camera make it an ideal camera to carry around all the time, even when travelling. On the other hand, Kiev 60 is a much bigger, heavier camera with a variety of lenses to use it with and with more professional results…therefore I mostly use it for portraits and landscapes. In 35mm I use the handy Canonet QL19 and the Pentax Spotmatic F along with a big variety of M42 mount lenses. The reason I prefer old cameras is that they are manual and fully mechanic, something that makes them pretty reliable!
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Mike: The thing that makes most people fall in love with analog photography, including me, is the amount of involvement you have into the creation of the image and the fact that you can give your real personal touch to the photo. Unlike shooting digital, you are forced to think a lot before you shoot and to visualize the image in your mind without having a screen to preview it and make your life easier. Sometimes, when you prefer the hard way, the result at the end is much more awarding! For me film it's beautiful, it's like magic, it's like the closest you can get to the truth of really creating a photograph!
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Mike: I do print my own photographs when I got the chance to do so. I believe, that is highly important for the photographer to be able to get a print that he/she is totally satisfied with and usually with the print labs, this doesn’t happen.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Mike: I see film as something completely genuine and real and suits perfectly my thinking and working style. When you get into analog photography, one thing is for sure, you are going to make a lot of mistakes. Maybe even ruin some photos and be frustrated in the process but these mistakes are the ones that are going to make you a better photographer. Once you make these mistakes, most probably you are not going to repeat them, because you learn to be patient and take into consideration a ton of factors before you shoot, develop or print! After all it's a fun, creative process from which you can learn a lot.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Mike: Of course! Few of them are Vivian Maier, Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Bill Brandt, Duane Michals and a lot more!
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Mike: Shooting with film makes the photographer distinguish the important things from the unimportant, be patient, concentrated and also requires a fair amount of inspiration. At the end, the whole process is like a craft in which you use your mind, your hands and your creativity to make it deliver the perfect result!
What do you think is the future of film photography?
Mike: As the time goes by I realized that I shoot more and more films, so about my “analog future”… I intend to continue shooting with film for as long as films are still produced!
What’s your dream photography project?
Mike: A really dreamy project would be the construction of a large format camera out of wood with a film size around 8x10!
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?
Mike: The most important advice is, not to be intimidated and don’t allow to get disappointed by mistakes or miscalculations, but try again and most important…enjoy it! You have to be patient and you can’t expect to do everything perfect from the first time but this stands for almost everything.
Many thanks, Mike! These insights are really helpful for us.
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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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