I am Dustin Veitch and this is why I shoot film
Probably known as much for his Analog Monthly blog posts, as he is for his silly Twitter name (what is a faulty flip flap, anyway?), I’m pleased to be able to finish of 2016’s EMULSIVE interviews with the one and only Dustin Veitch!
Enough from me, it’s over to you, Dustin!
Hi Dustin, what’s this picture, then?
DV: I made this photo the day after getting reacquainted with film photography and the purchase of my Canon Canonet 28. It’s truly the stereotypical Saskatchewan summer scene. You know, grain bins, a field and a sunset worth writing home about.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
DV: I’m a self-taught photographer hailing from the cold north. I work at a medium-sized software firm during the day and spend the rest of my time shooting, developing, scanning, talking about and buying film (and trying to get my cat to like me).
When did you start shooting film and what about now? What drives you to keep shooting?
DV: I started shooting film August 1st, 2015. It’s been quite a wild ride. I’ve learned so much in just a small amount of time. I’d have to say it’s the constant pursuit of knowledge and experimentation that keeps me interested in film. It really allows me to dive right in, alongside many like-minded photographers.
There is a great energy and sense of culture surrounding analog and that’s part of the reason I (and so many others) moved to, and stay with, the analog process.
What’s the next challenge…your next step? How do you see improving your technique, or what aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?
DV: Looking back a year ago, I balked at the idea of developing my own film but sure enough, by way of sheer curiosity, and constant need to learn, I started piecing together my own developing kit and began processing film.
Somewhere down the line, I graduated to the darkroom (read: bathroom) and started printing.
My next endeavour is Large Format Photography and I can’t be more excited about the possibilities. While large format photography can be considered the upper echelon of analog photography, its actually really stripped down to the fundamentals: Lens, Shutter, Film.
I look forward to slowing down my process and refining my skills with more advanced metering techniques, such as the Zone System.
Any favorite subject matter?
DV: My favourite subjects are things found close to home. I take a lot of pride being Canadian but more specifically, being from Saskatchewan.
It can be a struggle to find inspiration, at times, but I think that’s true no matter where you live. When I can capture something commonplace, in a different way, I get really excited. As a bonus, there’s a very good reason why Saskatchewan is known as the Land of the Living Skies.
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What do you take with you and why?
DV: The saying goes: The best camera is the one you have on you. The next best camera is the one you feel the most comfortable with. For me, that’s my $14 Canon Elan II. Plus, it also makes multiple exposures very easy. Unless I have a good reason for another lens, it’s going to be the Sigma 35mm 1/4 DG HSM ART lens.
It’s my go-to for all-around shooting, just wide enough to shoot landscape stuff, great for street photography, and a combination of the short minimum focusing distance and creaminess at 1.4 that keeps me happy in most situations.
Film-wise, I’d have to go with a roll of cheap color negative 200. I’m not worried about brand since I usually switch it up depending on what I can get, as long as its fresh. The other roll would have to be Kodak Tri-X.
Both choices are versatile. I feel like I can shoot them in any and all situations and come out with acceptable results.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll and why?
DV: Fuji Velvia 50. I have a love/hate relationship with RVP50. I hate when I don’t nail the exposure but no one can argue with the results when I do nail it. It’s finicky and fussy but also highly rewarding. I remember the first time I saw my own Velvia chromes on my makeshift light-table.
Interestingly enough, I get that same feeling every time. I’d expect nothing less for my final roll of film.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
DV: The idea of shooting an unlimited supply of film immediately makes me think of visiting some place new. It’s with fresh eyes I best connect with my surroundings and tap into my creativity – Full Tourist-Mode, you could say.
When I am in a new place, not only am I a visitor, I’m an ambassador for my home. I have a strong attraction to South America in that it’s completely foreign to me. I think it would be somewhere between Peru and Patagonia. That would keep me busy for a while.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
DV: People seem to think digital photography has “replaced” film photography. Sometimes film shooters get scoffed at for being interested in something so “old school”. I set it straight by pointing out how much there is to learn about the origins of certain filters you see on popular social media platforms (XPRO, anyone?) and the origins of photography, in general.
It’s easy to take for granted the trials of our photography forefathers, hauling heavy and delicate camera equipment up mountains to get “that perfect shot”. Appreciating those efforts and the foundation it has provided for photography humbles you, as a creative person.
Also, it goes for most things: the more chances you get at making something right, the more chances you take, instead of just getting it right the first time. Film photography forces you to consider every single thing that goes into your shot before you release the shutter.
Film photography has enabled me to predict, quite accurately, if my shot is a keeper. I don’t have to immediately check the screen on the back of a camera, nor do I want to. The delayed gratification you get from seeing that shot a few days later (or sometimes hours, in my case) is nothing short of the kind of rush a drug addict chases.
And I’m not exaggerating when I say that.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
DV: In my short span in analog photography, It’s a little unclear what the future holds. In the last year, I’ve seen some great films die but I’ve also seen a few some very exciting things crop up that keep me optimistic for days to come.
I’m very enthusiastic about the future of projects like Impossible, Ferrania is up to something that looks promising, and there seems to be no shortage of crowd funding projects. Whatever the future may be, until the film dries up, I’m sure I’ll be out there burning rolls.
~ Dustin Veitch
Regular readers will know that I like to finish off these interviews with a little commentary or occasionally and off-subject rant. Dustin’s made this task doubly difficult by effectively wrapping everything I wanted to say up with his comment, “…it’s the constant pursuit of knowledge and experimentation that keeps me interested in film.”
Stolen thunder and all that but it’s actually a comment that reflects much of my photographic life, this year in particular.
I made a New Year’s resolution in 2016 to stay as much outside of my comfort zone for the year ahead as possible. Specifically, I planned to push, pull, or cross process nearly every single roll with a few exceptions: mood and certain film stocks that were new to me.
For the most part, I’ve kept the resolution and it’s taught me to not only expect the unexpected but also what characteristics I can expect to find consistently in those unexpected results. This may not make much sense right now, as it’s an idea I have yet to fully form and get down onto paper.
It’s the desire to learn through experimentation, to find out for myself as opposed to “knowing through popular opinion”, which has made 2016 a year of almost pure learning and having Dustin here wearing experimentation on his sleeve in the final interview of the year seems like a great way to go out. For me, there’s much more work ahead to cover just the bare minimum of my go-to film stocks and it’s a journey that I hope to keep up through 2017.
He’s a man after my own heart and has an attitude towards experimentation that puts most of us to shame. Take a leaf from his book and see what you can learn by stepping outside whatever your own comfort zone is…you never know, I might even take a portrait photo or two in the year ahead 😉
That’s it for interview this year, I’m out. See you all again on January 4th and remember, keep shooting, folks!
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