Interview with WILLY JR., PHILIPPINES
I really dislike the idea of stressing over a digital camera's batteries and memory cards. You can't really trust them!
Please tell us about yourself and a brief story on how you got into film photography?
Willy: I went to film school at the age of 17 without any interest in the art form and it was through the people that I met there that got me into photography/images that were beyond pure documentation. I started to see that a camera could create new worlds.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Willy: I like films that have their own character. I prefer Kodak Tri-x as my go to black and white film, and coming from a background in cinema/video, I really like motion picture film like the rebranded Cinestill 800T. Because I develop my own black and white film, I find that Tri-X never fails to surprise me with the tones and the grain. I prefer Cinestill over other colour film because of the blue tinted shadows and cinematic look it tends to give; also it's 800 asa which would allows me to shoot at night.
My camera of choice would be a Leica rangefinder. It never fails, and it is still considered one of the most beautifully designed camera for many decades — even before I was born.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Willy: Film is more of a hassle to shoot over digital. Although I find the process— choosing the stock; loading the fil; waiting patiently for the roll to finish; imagining the shot in my mind; thinking about the technical aspects before pressing the shutter; developing or sending it to a lab to develop the film; and, finally being able to see the final image— very rewarding. To have the negative in hand and to be able to archive a physical copy of the shot, feels good to me. Who knows? When I'm old and my memory starts failing, I'll, at least, have these boxes of negatives to touch and serve as a reminder that I've experienced those moments.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Willy: The funny thing is that I've never had any photos printed. I don't think they're good enough. However, I've often toyed with the idea of setting up my own darkroom for printing. Someday, maybe! In the meantime, I'm very comfortable with darkroom experts to print my favorite shots.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Willy: Some days I wonder why do I stand around a corner with this old camera around my neck? Self conscious negative thoughts cloud my mind, "Why are you wasting your time?"; "Digital is faster and more convenient"; "Why are you trying so hard to be 'hip' etc. Nonetheless, I continue shooting film, simply because I enjoy the look, I enjoy mechanical tools, and I enjoy looking at memories that I made.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Willy: I'm influenced by a number of Japanese photographers of the provoke era. Daido Moriyama, Araki, Eikoh Hosoe who documented a time that's long gone now. I also get inspired by works of large format fine art photographers like Alec Soth, Todd Hido, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. These photographers continue to inspire and spur me to take my photography to new heights and directions. I also enjoy humanistic photos by Robert Doisneau (of a time and place that I would love to visit)
Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?
Willy: I guess the value lies in capturing and archiving memories. The joy of just going out and experiencing the world, the moments, or hidden truths around the corner. It's also good for me (a nobody) to keep a diary in case I don't remember who the younger me was.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Willy: I've often courted the Idea of going digital but because I love my camera so much, I see myself possibly using film exclusively. However, I would like to go into larger formats, like 4x5 and 8x10, if ever I get the chance to. The next step for me is to try darkroom printing. I'm certain I'll be still using film for a long time to come. I really dislike the idea of being dependent on, and stressing over batteries and memory cards. You can't really trust them!
What’s your dream photography project?
Willy: Yes, I have so many ideas but with no structure. I'm so disorganized with my thoughts but I'm hopeful, after shooting for years, something will surface.
Any good words you want to impart for those who want to try film photography? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Willy: It's expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Do extensive research on the gear you want. Just buy the camera you want and never look back. Hahaha! I like cameras without a meter. So I guess it's good to learn about the co-relation of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Also learn from the people who are still doing it in the digital age and why they keep doing it.
Admirable set of photographs, Willy. We do wish to bumped into you in the streets whilst taking photographs.
Follow Willy on Instagram and check his impressive work 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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