Part of the Process is a series of posts that puts the spotlight on film photographers and DIY film developers. These features provide unique experiences and perspectives on shooting and developing film while also showcasing diverse talent and film photographers around the globe. If you are interested in being featured, feel free to contact me!
Name: Colin Staehle-Lantelme
Location: Naples, Florida, USA
What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?
Usually just YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook but i do like to try and find websites of full bodies of work.
What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?
Honestly the mixture of a really bad break up and a tab of LSD is what kickstarted my passion for film. My roommate at the time had the day off from school and knew I was having a bad time dealing with the break up and offered to trip with me. Before we left our apartment I grabbed my Nikkormat at the last second (first time i used it in about 4 years).
I remember looking through the viewfinder and saying one of two phrases the entire day “It’s going to look like this” or “that could be a shoegaze album cover”. I got the roll back from the lab a week later and every shot was perfect. Since then, photography has been therapy for me. Soon after that day, I signed up for this community darkroom class in Orlando and continued to rent out the darkroom months after.
What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?
Growing up in the fashion industry I’ve always been drawn to fashion photography. But I do love shooting skateboarding and musicians as well. I always take a few portraits of all my subjects as well.
Whenever I go to shoot a new client, I usually treat the shoot like we are just hanging out. I try to have some introspective conversations, make their thoughts stimulating. It usually makes the shoot a little smoother and brings more emotion into the model. I usually get a bowl of ramen with them after the shoot, too.
What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer?
For 35mm I shoot with a Leica M6 and an Olympus XA2. I recently switched from digital to exclusively film for my professional work. The M6 just offers me a feeling of complete reliability. I used to shoot on a Nikkormat EL and it used to be a nightmare. I’ve had to refund clients because of that camera. The Olympus is great for my more “experimental” projects as a lot of my work is inspired by psychedelics so the XA just offers something simple and durable for me . All I have to do is focus on composition and hit the shutter.
For medium format, I use a Hasselblad 500C/M. That was my dream camera since I started shooting (almost eleven years now). It’s what my cousin, Brian Lantelme, (who is a massive drive in my work) used in the 70’s and 80’s when he was shooting the Transgender and Drag community in New York City. Other than the camera being a flawless machine, and the 6×6 format somewhat forcing me to push my composition boundaries, choosing this camera was mostly cathartic.
I recently got into instant photography which i use a Polaroid 450 Land camera. I just love the feeling of showing a client a shot during a shoot. Especially with the beautiful colors Fujifilm FP-100c has to offer. My standard film used to be Ilford’s HP5+ and Fujifilm Pro400H but since the announcement of Kodak’s Ektachrome making a return and the rumors of Kodachrome coming back, I felt obligated to give Kodak all my money. I primarily shoot with Tri-X400 and Provia 400 now.
What types of film do you develop?
Mostly black and white.
Tell us about your first experiences in developing your own film. How did you muster the courage to give it a shot? What resources did you use?
My teacher, Peter Schryer, walked me through the process. It was a euphoric experience, between the sounds of the flickering lights and the ac unit kicking on and off, and the smells of the chemicals, it became nirvana. I was probably listening to Velvet Underground or My Bloody Valentine (my usual go to darkroom soundtrack).
Just the feeling of being able to create photos from start to finish was very rewarding. Honestly the best advice i can give is be patient, explore different techniques, and play good music (makes the development time seem not as long).
What is your development process like now?
So I always start with picking music, usually some sort of shoegaze. I pour my chemicals then start loading my development tanks. During the rinse phase, I always smoke a cigarette to time my cycle. For enlarging, I usually make a base print of all the pictures i want to enlarge, dry them, then make my notes for cropping, dodging and burning. Then work on my final prints.
What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?
I actually scan every roll and create a contact sheet for each roll. I enlarge my own images as well.
What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?
For my enlarger, I use a Besseler 67SC with a Rodogon 80mm lens, Paterson tanks, Epson V500 scanner, and just various old odds and ends. About 90% of my darkroom was purchased through a good friend of mine named Michael who owns Kiwi Camera Services in Winter Park, Fl. He gave me a killer deal on everything, and is still providing insight and little gifts here and there. Last I was there for a gallery showing, he gave me a vintage bottle of retouching ink. He’s the man! For chemicals, I use all Kodak powder solutions, D-76 for developer.
Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions?
I’m never content with my work, which is what pushes me to continue. I love that I found something I can completely obsess about and constantly learn from. I’m actually moving to Denver to peruse a career in journalism, for both the writing and photography aspects. I used to be a literature major, so writing as been a big part of my life.
Have you completed any notable projects or in the process of creating something from the film you have shot and developed? Feel free to give a solid summary of each project.
I’ve done a lot of personal projects and commissioned work, but my favorite project was shooting Tampa Pro 2017. One of my friends started a blog/zine called SR50 in Orlando and he offered me the job. It was 3 days of partying with the heroes of my adolescence. I got portraits of professional skaters like Jamie Thomas, Torry Pudwil, Lizard King and Geoff Rowley (tons more, too). Being able to just sit on the ramps and get the shots I actually wanted was so surreal. I actually had a spot in a gallery with some of my enlargements from Tampa Pro.
While i was living in Orlando, I shot one of Aesop Rock’s shows. My homie, DJ Zone, who did the scratching on his newest album, got me photo passes last minute. I got to the venue like three hours early and tried to sneak in. I saw Rob Sonic outside smoking a cigarette and I decided to try and talk to him I asked him “Hey, you with the Social?” He replied, “Nah man.” I said, “Damn I am just trying to see my homie Patrick.” He replied with “Oh, you’re Zone’s homie? Come with me, I’m Bobby, if anyone gives you shit, tell them Bobby sent you.” It was a wild experience.
What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?
Just dive in! It’s a rewarding experience. Find a cheap camera and never leave it at home.