Interview with SARAH RUHULLAH, AUSTRALIA
Updated: Jul 11, 2018
Film photography makes you far more appreciative of photography as an art form.
I'm super thrilled to have you here, Sarah. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your photography.
Sarah: I guess having grown up in the age of mobile phones - especially once they started having cameras - enabled me to have an eye for photography from early on. I never really used to think of it as a hobby before - more so just capturing moments I enjoyed or thought were beautiful. I'm sure that's the case with a lot of people. I truly began my journey with photography when my mother gave me her DSLR. The camera allowed me to self teach myself a basic understanding of the essentials (like shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc) which was really useful later on when I started film photography. When I visited my family in Bangladesh in July of 2016, I found my dad's 32 year old Olympus OM40. The camera wasn't working but I was well and truly into photography by then so I decided I wanted to get it fixed and learn how to use it and so I took it with me back home to Australia. Around that same time I met my partner Hashem who is an incredible photographer himself and is very passionate about film photography and its artistic process. He is definitely the reason I got inspired to start shooting film regularly but my underlying passion for photography and the joy I get from shooting film is why I stuck with it. I've learnt a lot from him, he even got my dad's Olympus working!
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Sarah: I have two cameras I shoot with - my Minolta X700 with a 50mm f2 lens and Olympus Mjuii point and shoot. I absolutely love my Minolta, I upgraded from my previous X300 which I also loved. It's comfortable to use, has a really satisfying shutter sound and the advance feels smooth. The point and shoot is really great too! I love taking it with me when I want to take quick snaps. It's really quiet so it's pretty discrete when taking street shots and the zoom lens is quite handy too! Love both my cameras and would highly recommend them.
As for film, I don't have a particular film I use all the time but some of my favourites are Ektar 100, Fujicolor C200, Kodak colorplus 200, TMAX 400 pushed to 800 and Kodak Vision3 250d. I love these film stocks because of their beautiful colours and the feel I get from the final images.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Sarah: I believe that shooting with film comes with a strong sense of nostalgia. It's almost like when I see the final image whether it's a scan or a print, I get transported to that exact time when I took the shot - like a time capsule! I remember exactly what it was like in that moment - the light, the air, my subject etc. And I guess this is because shooting film forces you to really think about all aspects of your photo before you take it - the composition, the light, the focusing - and consequently, it plants that memory in your mind. Whereas in digital photography, we have the liberty of taking a hundred shots of the same subject hoping that one will come out great. It requires far less effort and so it doesn't come with that same sense of nostalgia that film offers. And secondly, the final photos when taken on film have much more depth to it - for the lack of a better word. They look incredible straight from the scan or print, there's no need for editing in Lightroom or adding filters.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Sarah: I personally get most of my film developed and scanned at a lab - only because I don't have the time to do it myself. But luckily for me, my partner Hashem develops my B&W film for me and scans it using an Epson V800.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Sarah: What motivates me to continue shooting with film is the enjoyment I get when I get my photos back from the lab. It's like a little surprise every time because by the time I've finished the roll (which sometimes takes weeks or months), I've forgotten what I've shot on there or there may have been something I really wanted to see on there. That sense of excitement and also the raw and organic artistic process that film photography entails is what keeps me going. Hashem also motivates me a lot to keep shooting film. He's incredibly knowledgeable and so I'm constantly learning new things about film through him. We both also love exploring and shooting in nature together so that's definitely another thing that motivates me. I guess through my journey so far, I've learnt that good things are worth the wait and that patience truly is a virtue.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Sarah: I don't think so, at least none that I can think of. Perhaps subconsciously photographers I see on social media influence me when I compose my shots but I try not to let others influence how I take my photos.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Sarah: Definitely. I strongly believe that shooting film teaches you to be a better photographer and to be extremely patient. It makes you observant and challenges your mind to see things from a different perspective. It also makes you far more appreciative of photography as an art form.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Sarah: I definitely see myself continuing to shoot film for a long time. It makes me so happy to have found something I get so much joy and satisfaction from. I hope to learn more techniques, experiment with new cameras and film and shoot more destinations.
Any dream film photography project in mind?
Sarah: Yes. I've had this idea of buying disposable film cameras and giving them out to different people of lower socio-economic class in my hometown Dhaka, Bangladesh. I want to see what others can't see, I want to see the world through their eyes - even if it's contained within 36 shots. And then I'll take portraits of them myself and create a book with their accompanying photography.
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?
Sarah: My advice to those wanting to try out film photography is to start shooting on a DSLR first. Learn the basics, experiment with different parameters and take a look online, there's so much great content available to teach you what you need to know to become a great photographer! Secondly, don't start off with an expensive camera. You don't need an expensive camera to take awesome photos! Go take a look on ebay or even go check out some local op shops! And lastly, have fun!
Sarah will be going on a month long trip this coming June with her partner, Hashem. She will exercise her film shooting skills in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Japan.
In the meantime, check out her remarkable work on Instagram.
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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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