When I started this blog, I wanted to document and share my experiences of shooting and developing film. The possibilities seemed endless in the sort of content that I wanted to create and it still pretty much is. When I began brainstorming the conceptual framework of the blog, I knew that featuring and showcasing the processes and stories of others was something that I wanted and felt like I needed to do in order to make this blog what I wanted it to be. So from now on, I will begin featuring other photographers; their processes and unique perspective on film photography in an ongoing feature series entitled “Part of the Process.”
Already, fifty photographers who are also DIY film developers have shown interest in being featured, with half of them already completing their initial interviews. These interviews will be posted periodically over the next few months. I truly cannot express my gratitude to those that have taken the time to write detailed accounts of their film interests, processes, and goals with me and eventually you, the reader. The first twenty five featured artists come from nine different countries and all have a unique approach to their craft. Some of these individuals take a bare bones, simplistic approach while others truly own the DIY aesthetic through not only their shooting and development but also in their alternative printing processes.
These features are aimed to communicate two very important points: There is no one right way of doing anything and that if you are interested in shooting, developing, or printing your images, that you can do it, even on a minimal budget and resources. I would definitely say that the overall theme of the advice these artists will give anyone who has a desire to engage in the analog process is to just do it.
If you are a film shooter, developer, printer, or artist that wants to share your work, process, or perspective, please feel free to contact me to be featured!
With that being said, I would like to take the liberty to preview the interviews by answering the initial interview questions myself:
What is your name?
Where are you located?
Tampa, Florida USA
Where can you be found online?
What other photography websites or blogs do you follow?
Typically, I read a lot of Emulsive, 35MMC, Film Shooters Collective, and Japan Camera Hunter. I also follow the Film Photography Podcast and watch the Youtube channels by Negative Feedback and Matt Day.
What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer?
I pretty much shoot 35mm and 6×6 formats exclusively. I have tried 645 and 6×7 formats, but I really, really like the formality and integrity of the square format. It makes me think differently when I am shooting compared to 35mm. Although the other formats are different in ratio compared to one another as well as 35mm (and much more beautiful in detail), I personally feel that they are too similar. I try as much as I can to simplify my gear while also taking advantage of a wide variety of options moving from camera to camera or format to format. I also try to settle on a single lens when it comes to interchangeable-lens cameras because I do not like lugging around too much gear.
For 35mm, I now shoot with a Leica CL with 40mm Summicron and a Contax T3. I recently acquired my Leica CL, but I love its size and quirkiness compared to other Leica rangefinders. I typically have the Contax on my wrist at all times when walking around or hanging out with friends. I love it for its simplicity and image quality. It’s not an intimidating camera by any means. I can take photos quickly and quietly without missing a step. Although the prices have gone through the roof on eBay and other online outlets, it’s definitely the best point and shoot out there. I will also sometimes bring out my Olympus OM2s or grab a random one from the pile just to change things up and keep it fun and different.
In terms of C41 film, I have stuck with Ektar 100 and Portra 400 for color. Sometimes the pro stock film can get a little too pricey for daily snapshots, so I also like to use Kodak Gold 200 and ColorPlus 200 as well. For slide film, I really love the results I have gotten with the FPP variety packs which usually include some Ektachrome. The colors of slide film are unmatched, but it’s also a bit pricey. I’d say slide film is well worth the price for any “meaningful” shooting you do. For black and white, I typically stick with Ilford HP5. It has a wide latitude for pushing and pulling (as well as developer error in my case), so I tend to stick with it.
What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?
I would definitely say that I enjoy capturing a candid moment. I try to capture the significance of an insignificant moment or detail; the euphoria of simply being alive or truly conscious in any given moment. Reflection plays a big role in my process. I take photos that I can look back on in hopes that they will bring me back to the sounds, sights, and intrinsic feelings of that moment. What I shoot is never as important as to why I shoot. I take pictures of whatever I feel is interesting or assists in representing how I feel at a certain point in time. Any subject or composition can potentially accomplish that.
What types of film do you develop?
I develop C41, E6, and black and white. I’ve done a bit of cross processing in the past, but it’s not something I do very often.
What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?
The intangible “feel” of film images, even in their digital state exude a certain type of nostalgia and depth for me. Growing up, my family had bins and bins of prints in one-hour-photo envelopes. Even today, I will flip through a few of them just to get lost in them.
I started shooting film as a serious hobby around 6 or 7 years ago. I remember picking up a Canon 35mm camera at a thrift store for a few bucks, found some film, and processed it at a Walgreen’s because that’s all I knew at the time. Now there are no more film processors at these types of stores. It’s all mail ordered. The shots on the roll weren’t of anything significant, but I did enjoy the experience enough to do more research. The hunt for cameras was also such a fun experience in and of itself even though I didn’t know much about analog cameras.
After a year or two, my boss caught wind that I was shooting film. By this time, I was sending my film out to professional labs to do my developing and scanning. He told me about his darkroom that he had in his home when he was a teenager. He pushed me to learn the process so I can relay the skills and experience to my students. This ended up blossoming into a full blown, high-demand after school program that I now run at my school in which I work.
Tell about your first experiences in developing your own film. What resources did you use?
I remember searching Youtube and Google and coming across a few videos and tutorials that showed how easy the process of developing black and white film at home really was. I do recall that my first roll was a success. I was ecstatic. There’s something about that excitement that never goes away each time I pull a reel out of the tank for the first reveal of each roll I develop.
I pretty much just followed this document with this Youtube video, and never needed much else. Since then, I have also documented my own process for others to use as well.
Do you scan, enlarge, and/or print your work?
I scan all of my 35mm film with a Pakon 135 I bought on eBay and all of my 120 film with an Epson V700 that I scooped up on Craigslist. I recently purchased a bulk of darkroom equipment on Craigslist and I want to attempt my first shot at enlarging in my home in the near future. The task is overwhelming at the moment, but I think I will get to it eventually. For now, I will be digitally printing on my Canon Pro printer.
Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions?
I’m never really content because I love to learn, and that transcends photography and bleeds into my personality for sure. But right now, I am still enjoying the fact that I self-published my first physical publication. I have a few thoughts of publishing more physical work in the near future but I want to keep those details concealed for now. I do want to take this Part of the Process Series and turn it into a small anthology of perspectives in film photography and self-developing.
I am content right now in just shooting what I want to shoot. I have a rotating gallery up at Foundation Coffee in Tampa, FL alongside a few friends that allows me to display my work. The feedback has been positive and it feels good that people like what I am doing.
For a while, I was shooting digital SLRs to supplement my income, but it never gave me as much joy as shooting film as a hobby has. I can definitely say that I am much more content than I used to be.
What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?
If you want to do it then, then do it. Mistakes will occur, but if my middle school students can do it, then anyone can.