Print making is amazing and, where, I guess, the charm of film photography lies.
Mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Tayla: I got into film photography when I was around 21. I was in my second year of engineering and felt desperately depressed and withdrawn. I asked my mom to buy me a camera for my birthday which she did. A classic Nikon D3200. Although this was my entry into photography and while it enabled me to shoot, it did have the kick I wanted. The more I looked into the great photographers and their images, film cameras obviously kept appearing. That's when I decided to get myself a film camera and try it out. I got a classic Pentax K1000 and still have it today.
About myself, I have never studied art or photography. I self taught myself everything through reading the classics like Ansel Adams and spending time out on the streets. I just finished my postgraduate in Statistics at the University of Cape Town and finally pursuing my passion for photography at Speos in Paris later on this year.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Tayla: To be honest I don't really care. Yes there are better films than others but any of the top range films have a good range of tones. It also depends on what you're shooting. But for the most part I like shooting Kodax T-Max 400 as the 400 ISO allows me more freedom of choice with regards to my shutter and aperture settings and the tonal rage is good with what I generally shoot.
I currently shoot on a Leica M6 with a 28mm f2.8 Elmarit lens.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Tayla: Look the digital revolution has been great for photography. Never in the history of the genre has there been so much interest in it. However this is also it's downfall. Film is classic and unpredictable. It is harsh and more often than not frustrating. It has a character, just like a person. It isn’t there to be your friend from the start like a digital camera with all its gimmicks and auto-adjusting features. It's a relationship which grows and becomes somewhat unbreakable. This can never exist with any form of digital imaging.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Tayla: We would all like to be passionate die-hard of the film genre. Print making is amazing and is where I guess the charm of film photography lies. Watching the image rise out of the developing bath is magical. It leaves one with goosebumps and feeling of conviction and triumph over the digital world.
However it is beyond time consuming and pricey. It takes multiple attempts to get the image one requires. Burning and dodging are a different skill on there own. You also limited to paper selection and size. But you have the world of creativity at your finger tips and you can really transform your image into more of an art piece than a flat still image.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Tayla: I just can't shoot digital to be honest. Tried it multiple times with very limited success. It's exhausting, with so much to think of before you eventually shoot the image. Too many gimmicks and settings. It gives me anxiety. We just don't get each other. Also being a black and white photographer, film just makes more sense. It’s not the same shooting in colour and then converting into black and white later.
I learned plenty about myself through film photography. Patients and trusting the process are two key learning curves one goes through when shooting film. You more often than not walk away from shooting a role of film with nothing to show for it. Constantly questioning why you shoot film. But it takes time and is an art form, you're not going to develop it over night.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Tayla: For sure. Magnum is a cooperative I admire a lot. I am constantly on their website looking at images of the great photographers like Alex Webb, Alex Majoli, Bruce Davidson, Ragu Rai and Steve McCurry’s portfolios. Vivian Maier is phenomenal. Every photographer should have a book of hers on their shelf as well as the photographer above.
Do you see any value or merit shooting with film?
Tayla: Of course. One, it teaches you the basics of photography, namely ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Two, it keeps you balanced and requires you to work incredibly hard for your images. Three, it encourages one to respect their subject more. Taking a picture using film costs you something, so you cherish the fact that you have limited exposures. You spend more time thinking about an image than shooting it. Snapping 10 images of a pointless subject is something you will soon learn to avoid. So you engage with your surroundings more, pushing your visual understanding of the world.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Tayla: Very strong, even when shooting professionally. There is no reason why one can’t only shoot film. Yes there is a delay between shooting and presentation but that is something can be easily fixed.
Do you have any dream film photography project?
Tayla: Yes, plenty of dreams and ideas regarding projects which I keep close to myself. To explain ones concept and vision is complicated. It is rather better to express it visually, where ones own interpretation comes to the fore front. I spend time with myself and then when I am ready and the idea is there, I attempt to express it visually for people.
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?
Tayla: Be patient and don't be afraid. I am not haunted by the images I have taken but by the ones I was too afraid to take. Being a street photographer is thrilling and will definitely get your heart racing at times. Don't think about it too much. Think about what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it, then walk up, snap it, thank your subject. For the most part people are intrigued by you and often want to have a chat. Don't assume the worst.
Learn the importance of lighting as this is critical with film. Look where the sun is and where the shadows fall.
Shoot what you love. Don’t follow what's on Instagram. I am so off put by Instagram, with people following a trend of shooting or a specific style. Film allows you the opportunity for self expression, take it.
Spend time out in the world. When I am traveling and working on projects I walk between 21-25km per day. No jokes.
Tayla will have exhibitions coming up in July/ August in South Africa. He is currently busy the changing dynamics in Asia.
Cheers for spending time in sharing your ideas here, Tayla! We really appreciate your thoughts and your stunning set of photographs.
Do catch Tayla on Instagram and check out more of his stunning photographs posted there.
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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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