I am Erwin Recinos and this is why I shoot film
We’re handing over this week’s interviews to focus on some of the folk behind Snapshot Galleria, a quarterly film photography ‘zine from a collective of L.A. based photographers. The project aims to document the changing landscape of the city, as seen through the eyes of its founding members, as well as provide a space for other photographers to showcase their work.
The three issues so far have some powerful images and tell a story of both a city and lives in the midst of rapid change.
Enough from me, as it’s time to hand over to co-creator of Snapshot Galleria, Erwin Recinos.
Hi Erwin, what’s this picture, then?
This photo was taken about a year and half ago. I was meeting a good friend of mine in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) at his place of work. We both got a drink and I just enjoyed his attire. A shirt and tie was not what I was used to seeing from him.
…of course he had his skateboard with him and he was clutching the drink so tightly. I told him to hold it and I snapped away.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
I’m a visual artist from the Los Angeles area. I’ve been shooting film for close to 15 years.
When did you start shooting film?
I began to shoot film in college. I was studying a graphic design degree and in my third year, I took up photography. Using film and experimenting in the darkroom was a learning experience about how much more there is to do in photography than just clicking the shutter.
It is the only habit I still have kept since my college days.
What about now? Why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?
Shooting film is still a learning process for me. I don’t know everything about film photography. I have an interest in shooting different film camera types. Overall, learning to be a well-rounded photographer is my main goal.
…to be better than my last roll of film.
Any favorite subject matter?
For the last five years that I have been photographing downtown Los Angeles, that developers have taken over. In less than a year, three new condo/apartment blocks have risen and two new skyscrapers are changing the Los Angeles skyline.
The rent for small businesses and restaurants is forcing out the old and familiar locations to make way for high-priced eateries that I would not step foot in.
It’s making it harder to work in DTLA but also making harder to watch all theses places disappear.
This is a city in the midst of a facelift and old familiar locations everyday spots are not longer there. I’ve known some of these locations places since I was child and I’m trying to capture them before they are all gone.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
For my last roll of film I would photograph my family. I have already planned out where I would photograph each person in my family. First I would start with portraits of each person. Then I would move into pairs. Lastly would be a family portrait.
Regarding the stock, I would use black and white film, specifically Kodak Tri-X 400. I love the tones it gives me and that I can push to ISO800 just a lil bit to get some contrast.
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?
I’ll take my Olympus OM-1 with a 24mm and 100mm lens. I’ve been shooting with this gear for close to over a year and feel very comfortable with it. I would take two rolls of Fuji Velvia 100 slide film. The colors are just so wonderful and can be used for both landscape and portraits.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
Sixth Street bridge in downtown Los Angeles. It is scheduled to be demolished and will change the landscape of what my generation has come to know.
It would be great to pair portraits of people and the bridge. Record their oral history of what they have seen or recollect about this iconic monument. The one bright side of this is that I will be here to see this happen.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
Film photography is current and vibrant in the film photography communities that embrace it. Social media has proven that. I’m am talking to you now about why I shoot film. Nostalgia speaks of something from the past. From my point of view film is now.
I help co-found Snapshot Galleria, a website dedicated to film photography. Curating interviews with film photographers from the city Los Angeles. Some of theses creatives might not have a place to shine and showcase their work. It’s about expanding that community around you, reaching out to others and spreading the word. That is how I am currently breaking the misconception.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
You. Me. The people reading this interview. I challenge anyone that has thought about using film to try it and stop procrastinating. You invest in gear, websites and apps to improve you photography. Why not spend that on some film, developing and scanning. Expanding how you see and work as a photographer is investing in yourself and for the future of film photography.
Growing up as a child obsessed with film (motion pictures), Los Angeles struck me as a city so broad and so divided, that it almost seemed impossible that it was real.
I had this image of it as a gritty, magical place where you could find the A-Team and Axel Foley hanging around on one street corner and the rich kids from 90210 or Ridgemont High on another – both groups being careful to head home before dark, so they could avoid the Terminator and The Dude going about their business when the sun went down.
As an adult, I’ve seen the city change through its representation on film, television, in print and online. Although I’ve sadly not yet had the opportunity to travel there myself, it’s focused and dedicated work like this from Erwin and his co-founders that makes me feel glad that I can witness the transition this sprawling habitat from a perspective other than that devised by Hollywood and related industries.
Stay tuned for more from Snapshot Galleria over the coming days and in the meantime, please take a moment or two to check out the website (and current issues), or their Twitter Feed, as well as connecting with Erwin via Twitter, of the fantastic LATACO.com. It’s an LA centric website that embraces the taco lifestyle, for which Erwin is the Senior Events Photographer. If you’re in LA, or plan visiting, it’ll give you insight into art shows, events and anything that revolves around city of angels (very cool indeed!)
That’s all from us for the moment, we’ll be back very, very soon.
EMULSIVE needs you. If you’d like to take part in this series of film photographer interviews, please drop us a line, or get in touch in the comments. We’re featuring to photographers young and old; famous and obscure, so get in touch and let’s talk.