Interview with TALISA RAE SWANSON, USA
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
It’s so simple and perfect, I get such a kick out of every stage of film photography.
I'm super thrilled to have you here, Mila. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your photography.
Talisa: I started taking photos from a fairly young age, my dad was always very supportive of my artistic and creative endeavors and gave me my first film camera when I was 7, as well as my first digital camera at 17. Years go on, and dust collects. Six years of college, to finally meet a beautiful human in school who re-inspires me to pick up my camera. I started shooting film again in 2017, fell in love, and never looked back. And I suppose here we are.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Talisa: I’m a bit of a tornado of a mess of a photographer, I prefer to buy a variety of films and let the chance of the grab dictate what I shoot with. I typically shoot color film, and 35mm film is my go to. I enjoy experimental films too, Lomochrome Purple and Lomochrome Metropolis are my more recent pleasures. Cinestill 800t is always a great night time go to, and I’ve recently fallen in love with the glowy dreamy whites and sharp contrasting blacks on Cinestill BwXX. My favorite and go-to camera is my Nikon FE. It’s light, small and feels right in my hand. I purchased this camera primarily due to it’s easy double exposure feature, which makes everything so much more fun and funky.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Talisa: You know, it does and doesn’t. It’s whatever you make it have. It’s subjective and up to personal preference in my opinion. Personally, film allows me to keep a sharper eye and choose the shots that I am taking with more delicacy and thought. It forces me to consider composition, distance, focus point, etc. much more than I find myself doing with a digital camera with endless and free shots. But mostly, it is SO tangible and that is what I love about it: you load it, you smell it, you see it, there is time into processing, drying, scanning. You can hold it, it’s alive and unpredictable and that just makes me happy. Not to mention the community of local film photographers I have had the pleasure of meeting through this process.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Talisa: I haven’t gone as far to have many prints made of my work. I made my first few prints ever earlier this year, with a friend’s fancy printer set up. It’s something I hope to do more often and offer my work to friends and anyone is interested. It’s great to have an extra level of tangibility and texture.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Talisa: It’s so simple and perfect, I get such a kick out of every stage of film photography and since it feels nice I keep doing it. The day it doesn’t feel nice is the day I’ll stop. Yes! I have learned so much about myself through film. Not just taking the photos, or seeing the outcome of my photos. But the solitude of wandering around and simply looking at things with more meaning. Analyzing the world, and through that, always myself in this world. However I am sure any creative could argue this with any medium. It’s the act of being a part of the world and having a romantic hair in you that keeps you hungry for more expression, connection, meaning, and presence.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Talisa: Oh so many, there is no way that I could ever list all of the photographers that have influenced my eye and the way I make/take photos. Every photo I have every seen that’s caught my eye in some way has been an inspiration to me. I like to note that my lovely room mate has a seven year old daughter (whom is also excited about photography and film) who has recently inspired a more abstract and loose sort of photography as her photos are quite un-traditional and I love it. She’s been my most source of inspiration.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Talisa: Yes, to me it offers huge value and merit (this sort of relates to question 3 above). I think film can indeed offer increased difficulty with so many moving parts and so much room for errors without the benefit of instant feedback - but that’s half the fun. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been all set up, just to realize something was off… I forgot to load film, or my camera jammed, or I go to press the shutter release and I forgot to progress the film. Lots of room for silly errors.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Talisa: I’ve always considered my photos a hobby and personal enjoyment for myself. I’ve had the benefit of having a career that is in no way related to photography or the “traditional” creation of art, and that has allowed me to find a space that is completely my own. I’m happy to find space and time, who knows what the future holds.
Any dream film photography project in mind?
Talisa: I’ve had some fun ideas. I like the idea of the medium bringing people together. I have met so many wonderful and amazing film photographers in the Portland, OR area that are oozing creativity and light and magic. I have thought about doing some sort of group photo project where there is a multi-perspective approach that is later combined to show the variety of everyone’s eye, equipment, and creativity. It’s all in the works, albeit quite early on still.
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?
Talisa: Just have fun with it! Find someone who has at least a basic understanding of film, or watch a quick tutorial on loading/setting up film and things to consider on youtube and then wander around and shoot. Starting something new and learning is the best part!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on film photography, Talisa. Let's keep in touch!
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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 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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