I am Joan Ollé and this is why I shoot film
Without giving too much away, today’s interviewee first started shooting film after getting a DSLR.
Yes, you read that right, a DLSR got him into film. Confused? So are we.
Joan, we need your help…over to you.
Hi Joan, what’s in the picture, then?
This photo was taken near a lake and has become one of the most beloved images I have taken. While I was shooting it (besides of being under one of the most cold and severe storms I’ve ever seen), something magical was happening. It was literally a dream coming true and this lake has now become a very special place for me.
It is a frame from the third roll I shot with my Hasselblad; I was a complete newbie with that camera and I was finding out how much I would love it. So basically what’s in the picture is me 🙂
Ok, so who are you? (The short version please)
I’m a twenty-something self taught aspiring photographer from Barcelona – who can’t leave the house without a camera – shooting film while studying at a university that is purely digital.
When did you start shooting film?
I started shooting film about 3 years ago when I got my first DSLR and started getting interested in photography. Yes, a DSLR…let me explain myself.
I grew up practically adoring my dad’s chunky and heavy camera, a Ricoh Singlex TLS, but that didn’t go any further until I got a DSLR for Christmas about three years ago.
Two months later the brand new DSLR was collecting dust on a shelf, while the old Ricoh was dustless and loaded with film again! The rest, until now is probably documented on Twitter.
What about now, why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?
It’s simple; I just enjoy shooting film more than I enjoy digital.
The variety of films, formats and cameras is just amazing, not to mention how cool is to enlarge your own prints yourself!
But there’s something more, I feel there’s something special when I shoot film. I can’t tell you exactly what it is but there’s something magical about it. To me it’s more personal when I shoot portraits or landscapes with film. I feel more connected with the subjects, it’s kind of a mystical experience.
The ritual of taking the roll out of the box, changing spools, loading the roll, winding the magazine, shooting, rewinding, taking it out, developing it and then finally printing it.
…the whole printing process itself. Today, I’m still amazed when I see the image appear on the blank paper.
Any favorite subject matter?
I think I would say I enjoy a lot taking portraits but lately I’ve found a deep passion for landscapes. Maybe my disproportionate love for the mountains and nature has something to do with it.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
Woah, that’s a tough one… The only thing I’m sure it’s that it’s going to be black and white.
I would say either Ilford Pan F+ or Kodak Tri-X 400 depending on how the weather is. I’d normally say HP5+ but I started shooting with Tri-X so I think it would be a nice tribute to end with the black and white film that got me started shooting.
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?
For the gear I think I’d choose my Hasselblad 500C/M and my Planar 80 (or Sonnar 150 ), as it’s what I’m most confident shooting with right now. If not I’d probably go with my Nikon F3 and a fast 50.
As for the films, hands down Ilford HP5+ for black and white and Kodak Portra 400 for color.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
Does the whole world count as one location? [EMULSIVE: no…play nice and pick a city, country, or continent 😉 ]
This is a pretty difficult question! I think I’d go either to Denali National Park in Alaska, somewhere in New Zealand or Hokkaido.
Surely it’s gonna be a place with mountains and very very cold weather. If not I’d probably go to New York City or another big capital city.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
That film is dead and there’s no use shooting with it, when we have digital cameras.
I study at a technical university and almost everybody there thinks traditional photography and thus film photography is dead. PERHAPS in the professional community yes, I admit it if I had to cover a war or work as a photojournalist I’d quickly buy a gazillion megapixel and high-FPS DSLR but just for convenience – it would be choosing a tool to complete a task because nowadays people want everything right after you’ve done it.
But still, the same was said with painting when photography was invented: why do you want to paint when you can photograph?
To me (removing how I feel when shooting with film), it’s a tool and everyone is free to choose the tool they want to work with. You can’t say, “one can’t shoot with film just because digital cameras exist.” People should understand that they can live together and that one is not a substitute of the other, it’s just another way to do a thing.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
If I have to be sincere I’ve got no idea. But I can tell you that I hope it lasts for years and years to come, as this is the kind of photography I enjoy.
There are brands like Ilford and Kodak who are doing a great job, plus all the new projects to bring film back like Ferrania or even Lomo, CineStill and the Impossible Project make me see a bright future of film photography.
~ Joan Ollé
Flame war bait is everywhere. Digital is better, film is better; digital looks “too sharp”, film is “warmer”; film is for hipsters, digital is “too easy”. It’s easy to dismiss one based on the objective or subjective benefits of the other; it all boils down to a choice.
Joan’s view is progressive:
You can’t say, “One can’t shoot with film just because digital cameras exist.” People should understand that they can live together and that one is not a substitute of the other, it’s just another way to do a thing.
His viewpoint is reflected in the images he takes and not just some lip service for a little film photography blog. Take a look over the images on his website and blog, especially those taken on his travels. Without looking at the camera data provided, can you honestly tell the difference between every digital and analogue frame?
Whether it’s an effect made in post-production or not, the point I’m trying to make is that it’s Joan’s eye that’s the most important aspect of his work. The medium (mostly) takes a back seat, as he’s happy to use either his Hasselblad, or Fuji X100.
It’s been a real pleasure talking with Joan over the past couple of months and you get the feeling that he really is just at the beginning of his photographic journey. If his work is already at such a high level, I can’t wait to see what he does with a few more years under his belt!
Please take a minute to visit Joan’s website and blog (linked above), as well as giving his a follow on Twitter – you won’t regret it
We’ll be back again soon with another film photographer. In the meanwhile, keep shooting, folks!
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.