I am Raffael Stiborek and this is why I shoot film
We grabbed some time with Raffael Stiborek 28 year old photographer from Austria.
You may have already seen some of his portrait work flying around the internet but if not, you’re in for a real treat.
More from the man himself, so it’s over to you, Raffael!
Hi Raffael, what’s this picture, then?
RS: These are my cousins (with my grandma in the background), enjoying the first summer day in our garden. It’s a really personal picture for me because the garden means pure relaxation.
Also, it was from the first roll of Kodak Tri-X 320 I shot with my Pentax 67.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
RS: I’m a 28 year old portrait and fine art photographer born and raised in Salzburg, Austria working and living in Vienna for a couple of years. I enjoy traveling and good food.
When did you start shooting film and what about now? What drives you to keep shooting?
RS: About 5 years ago, when I decided to buy a fancy Hasselblad camera–which I recently sold to buy a Makina 67. I always enjoyed the softness and and tones of analog film and at that time the Hasselblad was so fancy.
I like the look that different combinations of lenses, formats and films can produce and on the other, it’s the way it makes me feel while shooting: it slows me down because I’ve got to think about what and how I want to see my subject and care about composing and exposing my work . The warmth and softness of grain and how film can handle skin tones is just amazing.
When I’m shooting digital I know how I will edit the photos to achieve a certain look that matches the feeling I had while shooting. I normally take my colour film to the lab and edit my digital camera files while I wait for the negatives to be developed and scanned. The similarity in the final result of those edits and my negatives straight from the scanner is something I find very funny. I still digitally edit my film scans but they are minor: just a contrast curve adjustment, removing dust spots, scratches, things like that.
I develop black and white film by myself and love the ability to control grain, contrast and exposure just by using different developers.
Any favorite subject matter?
RS: I started out with sports photography, especially with action sports because my friends and I used to ride BMSs and snowboard quite often. On those situations it’s really common that one of the group will be documenting all of the crazy things that go down.
Then I moved to When I moved to Vienna I met a guy who took super nice street portraits and he told and taught me things about portraiture which I think are way more subtile compared to what I was doing; especially when working with available light only instead of with high speed strobe.
So now I would have to say people are my favorite subject matter. 90 percent of my work is straight up portraiture, although I’m think about getting more into environmental portraiture and reportage.
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?
RS: I want to work more on personal, long-term projects. At the end of summer 2016 I will be heading to Southern Europe to do some reportage and hopefully collect enough stories to do an exhibition in the Winter.
I also want to build a darkroom and learn to print my black and white work myself.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
RS: Thats hard! Tri-X i suppose. It’s so versatile! You can push it to EI 3200 if you need to and I like the super classic BW look: that gritty grain.
Ilford HP5+ always was too flat and boring most of the times I tried it, T-MAX and Delta are too clinical for my taste.
Fuji Neopan 400 is on the same level as Tri-X but it’s discontinued…the look of Acros 100 is great but it’s not that versatile because it’s a slow film.
All in all I like Tri-X for contrast grain and pushability and Neopan and Acros for the creaminess!
You have 2 minutes to prepare for an assignment. One camera, one lens, two films and no idea of the subject matter. What to you take with you and why?
RS: Nikon FM2 50mm, Kodak Tri-X and Cinestill 800T. I’d chose the films because they are both pretty versatile, so I can shoot in pretty much every situation. As far as the camera goes…
I simply love everything about it!
It has got a fast 1/4000 maximum speed, I can see the settings through the viewfinder, it’s built like a tank and only needs batteries for the light meter. Just perfect.
The reason why chose a 135 camera not medium format is because you said just two rolls, so for an assignment I get 72 instead of ~20 frames.
Easy as that. Sometimes you just have to take more images and select them afterwards without planning too much.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
RS: I think to Los Angeles, I simply love it. I can’t really answer this question fully because there many places I want to visit that I haven’t seen yet.
Is it ok to answer this one in a couple of years? 😉
But from the places I’ve been to, I would say Los Angeles, California for the craziness, interesting people, the beautiful light.
…and the coastal highway because of the sea and overall feeling of the place. Lake Tahoe and Yosemite aren’t bad either!
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
RS: People say they don’t know what they will get when shooting film, so it’s more of an experiment than anything else.
If these people would think about their aperture and shutter speed combinations carefully; and know how to frame a picture then there wouldn’t be the need of looking at a shitty LCD on the back of their digital camera to make sure they got it right!
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
RS: I think film will have a bright and sunny future!
I think Kodak will stay around and probably bring out new stuff. Cinestill is on the rise. Lomography and Impossible are great too!
F**k Fuji with their latest press release about FP-100C I will not support them anymore in any way.
Thanks to Raffael for stepping up and showing off his work, it’s very appreciated.
I’ve said it a few times before (probably) and I guess I’ll say it again: I rarely make portraits of people. I don’t know why – well, I do but I’m not sharing just yet. Back to the point and I’m stunned, always stunned when I come across great portrait work like Raffael’s it really does blow my mind. Whilst it remains something I don’t ever see myself getting into, it’s a skill I can appreciate both from an aesthetic viewpoint and one of the work that goes into making a good portrait great.
We’ll be back again soon with a fresh photographer for you to sink your teeth into. In the meantime…
…keep shooting, folks.
Contribute to EMULSIVEEMULSIVE NEEDS YOU. The driving force behind EMULSIVE is knowledge transfer, specifically engendering more of it in the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas.
Help drive an open, collaborative community - all you need do is drop us a line and we'll work something out.