Seeing the images appear on paper is awesome, those few seconds are already enough to motivate me to shoot more film and keep printing!
Pleasure to have you here, Paolo. Mind telling us about yourself and a brief story on how you got into film photography?
Paolo: My name is Paolo Morandi, 41yo, originally from Switzerland, but I live in Hong Kong since many years, 14 years ago I bought my first digital camera and started to enjoy photography, mainly landscapes, long exposure and lighting are my favorites. 4 years ago I meet an analog photographer who is now one of my best friend and he invited me to spend some time on a local darkroom, I fall in love with printing quite quick and so I decided to buy an analog camera and I started developing negatives at home and end up having my own darkroom. I am very happy for this friendship and for the gift that he brought to my photography. In the same time another friend photographer “ditched” digital to go back to analog, those two friends are very important for my film photography path.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Paolo: I only do B/W so far and my favorite film is Fuji Acros 100, by far my favorite, not sure why but when I print Fuji Acros negatives I am always more satisfied. I started with a Hasselblad 500CM 6x6 and soon bought a Sinar 4x5 and 8x10 large format camera. Large format is now my favorite, the details are amazing and I feel I have now ‘problem’ to shoot medium format or 35mm, which is ridiculous, I know!
I have 2 photographic enlargers, one of them can enlarge 8x10 negatives. My favorite paper to print on would be Ilford Art 300, cotton based paper, I am addicted to it and seldom try other papers.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Paolo: First of all, film doesn’t require to spend hours on a computer and follow new cameras market (I am very much attached to gears, but mainly I recognize merits from lenses more than camera bodies). I still use digital just to picture my prints so I can post them on social media, I do that to find models that like my style and wants to pose for me, as mainly now I shoot portraits.
I think Film and Printing are magical, I am aware of the huge amount of information that needs to be mastered and understood so there is always space to become better in developing and printing.
Its very relaxing and in my view a better type of creativity compared to working Raw files.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Paolo: Yes, as mentioned, I set up a darkroom, I can develop 35mm, 6x6, 4x5 and 8x10. I normally enlarge to 11x14’ paper, sometimes 16x20’, I have a NOVA vertical paper processor for space issues. I never used any laboratories for developing my negatives or print my pictures.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Paolo: The motivation is the magic of film photography, seeing the images appear on paper is awesome, those few seconds are already enough to motivate me to shoot more film and keep printing!
I have learned that part of this hobby requires to be precise, systematic and organized, and I discovered that this is the contrary of me! But I think I can learn more to change that. I already wasted time, film and paper because I lack those qualities.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Paolo: I did not study much about famous photographers, obviously I did purchase Ansel Adams books to have a base on developing and printing and shooting film cameras.
My favorite photographer for portraits: Helmut Newton, the energy in his pictures is astonishing. I don’t know if I got any influences from him but I would like to create prints with similar energy.
I always say that my favorite is landscape photography, but in reality where I live it’s difficult for me to get inspired and I do more portraits than anything else. When I bring my camera on vacations (normally the 4x5 large format) I concentrate more on landscapes.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Paolo: The “Value” is in the happiness on shooting film, the surprise after developing (sometimes negative surprise.. but hey.. it happens), the magic and calm of printing. I don’t see any specific “merits”.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Paolo: I am part worried, it’s getting difficult, for example, to find Fuji Acros 4x5’ negatives. On the other hand, I am not sure if more people are joining analog photography, which would sustain its market, but for sure I can see how social media help to bring those groups and people together, which is good.
What’s your dream photography project?
Paolo: So far nothing too specific, I print mostly for my pleasure and if anything to have happy models about our pictures. If I would take only landscapes pictures, I would not even need to post mine on social media. In the future I don’t know, so far I am happy to learn more and more about darkroom work.
Any good words you want to impart for those who want to try film photography? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Paolo: I think anybody that likes photography should try to use film and especially developing and printing (B/W first maybe). I think there is nothing to learn or be prepared BEFORE venturing, but there is a lot to learn once inside the analog world. The only down side is that it can get quite expensive depending on how much shooting and printing!
Truly outstanding work, Paolo! Glad you shared this with us.
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