Film photography has pushed me outside of my comfort zone many times to explore the world and develop deeper relationships with people.
Welcome, Nat! Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Nat: I'm Nat and I'm from the Philippines. I love traveling and I take pictures to document my travels. I found that photography, in general, has taught me to develop a keen sense of curiosity which enables me to appreciate better the things that are happening around me.
I got into film photography by accident influenced by a close friend of mine more than 10 years ago. My first camera was a lomography toy camera. While it was fun to use I wanted to have more control and flexibility over the shooting process so I eventually gravitated towards rangefinders and SLRs. I also used various digital cameras but I feel that the experience of shooting film suits the type of photography that I do because I have the luxury of time and I don't shoot professionally.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Nat: I use Fuji Xtra 400 color film in 35mm and shoot with a Leica If with a 28mm lens and a Nikon F with a 105mm lens. I used to shoot black and white film exclusively but I realised shooting color film better captures the vibrancy of the scenes that I encounter while traveling. I currently carry two cameras when I'm on the road to shoot landscapes and portraits.
I also shoot Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film with a Pentax 67. I swear by the signature of the 105mm Takumar lens. It's just pure magic when shot wide open. Because of its weight, however, I don't bring the camera with me when I travel. I use it for portraits of family and friends in controlled environments.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Nat: Personally, with film, the shooting process is what sets it apart. It requires more thought because there are limitations (number of shots, ISO setting flexibility, and etc.) which forces the photographer to be more deliberate, disciplined, and patient. Innovations in digital cameras eliminated these limitations but the danger is that the photographer is tempted to let the tool take control and alienate himself from the creative process. I used to believe the output of film has a unique character which was a big reason why I was attracted to it initially. However, modern technology nowadays allows anyone to download presets to mimic film grain, color, and tonality.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Nat: Currently, I send my exposed rolls to a lab for processing and printing but I would like to print on my own in the future. I believe the process ends when the print is made. Storing the photographs in a computer drive or in the cloud puts the photographs at the risk of being deleted or lost in obscurity. And holding a print in my hand just gives that satisfying feeling that through the creative process I was able to produce something concrete and tangible.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Nat: In this day and age where almost everything is available on demand, film photography remains a practice that forces me to stop, think, and reflect. This whole process might strike others as troublesome and tedious but for me film photography is a rewarding endeavor to the same level that of meditation. The shooting process allows for moments of introspection by forcing me to think about each shot before clicking the shutter and that to me is very important because I've been able to express my thoughts and emotions better through the medium almost like a cathartic exercise.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Nat: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Patrick Tsai, and Yusuke Yamatani to name a few.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Nat: Definitely. The process will teach a photographer many things about the camera that we take for granted nowadays and which will make one learn faster in a shorter amount of time.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Nat: I love shooting film! It's getting more expensive but film maybe the one of the luxuries I'm willing to spend on. Being an introvert, film photography has pushed me outside of my comfort zone many times to explore the world and develop deeper relationships with people.
What’s your dream photography project?
Nat: I just started cycling and I'm training to fulfill my goal of 'bikepacking' around the country. I want to document the epic journey when it happens taking photos of beautiful places and interesting people I will encounter along the way. It won't happen soon but I can already imagine coming up with a travel journal with photographs.
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?
Nat: Enjoy the process and join a community that will help you learn. Something I wish I didn't do when I started was to obsess over vintage cameras so much so that I spent more effort trying to collect cameras instead of trying to improve my skills. Focus on image making and that will you save you more money to buy film which is more important!
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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 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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