I am Sorin Nita and this is why I shoot film
Today we’re sitting down with Sorin Nita, AKA Twitter’s @FilmHasGrain. This interview has been a while coming but we’re finally able to share some of his beautiful work.
Grab a life vest, lean forward and immerse yourself in his beautiful images!
Over to you, Sorin.
Hi Sorin, what’s this picture, then?
I love the tranquillity in this picture. It was shot right in the middle of the city, but by looking at it you wouldn’t say. Everything is so calm and peaceful. The light is so warm. I think it’s timeless.
It’s a state of mind for me, one that we all should try to search inside ourselves and do our best to never lose it again.
Ok, so who are you?
I’m the sort of guy who tries to live life as he wants to, without losing himself in compromises. This is proving to be a lot harder than it sounds!
If you want more details about me then you should know that I’m 31, I have a passion for film photography, I enjoy travelling, getting to meet new people and cultures, and I think that the world could be a lot better if we would be willing to get past our own insecurities.
When did you start shooting film?
I started shooting film in the 90’s. Not professionally or anything like that since I was just a teenager back then, but that’s when it all started.
As a matter of fact, I still remember the moment when I fell in love with photography. I was in a school trip in Greece and one of the older boys handed me his SLR to take a picture of him. I was hooked as soon as I put the viewfinder to my eye. The world was different when watched through that little window. You could reshape reality any way you wanted, make it yours in a way, just by focusing and composing. It was great.
After that I went through all sort of cameras, including digital, and 3 years ago I went back to film. All those SLRs that I wanted so much as a kid were so cheap now and nobody wanted them anymore.
It went without saying that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and two rolls of films later I was hooked…again.
That about now, why do you shoot film? What drives you to keep shooting?
Me? I love the whole process of shooting film.
The uncertainty you feel each time you try something new, the smell of sheet film, not remembering what you shot on an old roll, the development process, mixing the chemicals, the silence of a late night printing session, the smell of fixer on your fingers in the morning…
…and pretty much everything else (including its quirks and my own failures).
Plus I really like its look and that I can get every look I’m after just by swapping film. With digital you have to spend tremendous amounts of hours in front of the monitor to get the image you want. Film is a lot easier though, especially if you shoot black and white.
You could say that this passion for film is what drives me, but it’s more than that. For me, it’s also the need to know what’s around the corner and to capture that moment.
Any favourite subject matter?
That’s easy: city life. Call it street photography or whatever you like, but there is something magical about cities.
I find it fascinating how we built such complex ecosystems, where there are so many things, so many stories taking place each moment; and that most of the time we are just passers by, never stopping to see, to hear, what happens around us.
However, I can’t ignore it. I love the city so much that I could spend days on end walking its streets. Always trying to discover something new. A new corner, a hidden street, new people, a new angle, some small detail that I missed before.
And I feel a need to capture all of this – on film of course.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
Kodak 400 Tri-X because I love its versatility and contrast; and because I doubt it that digital will give me the chance of shooting something this great ever again.
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?
Although I love medium format, I would go with my trusty Nikon F80 paired with a fast 50mm lens. This combo is so compact and versatile that I know that I won’t be caught off guard no matter the situation and I’ll be ready to shoot right as I hit the scene.
As for the films, I would go with a roll of Porta 400 and one of T-Max 400. Both of these films react really well to pushing and pulling, they have a high exposure latitude, and can take any type of subject you throw at them.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
Everywhere. I want to shoot the Earth. Its cities, its forests, its desert, its endless oceans and everything in between.
Finally, what do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
That it’s hard. I think this misconception comes from the fact that you can’t see the result right away. People fear uncertainty. They want to eliminate every bit of risk from their lives, but by doing this they also take away the magic.
What would I say to someone like that? For starters I would tell them that they have nothing to lose. Just get a hold of a working camera from a friend or relative, go out in a park or on the street and shoot a roll or two. Chances are that they’ll get some really nice shots once they have it developed. Maybe they’ll even be surprised to see that their keeper rate is higher than on digital.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
In the short term I would say that the future of film photography is very bright. Film is really popular right now, so the market is growing. Just a few days ago I saw a couple of 14 year olds carrying fixed lens rangefinders around town and talking about how great film photography is.
I see camera stores starting to hold film processing workshops, and more and more people are buying film right in front of me. Film photography is hip, is rad, is thriving.
But I worry though….’cause I don’t know what will happen in ten years time after this whole coolness wave passes. The optimist in me wants to think that it will always be a niche market for film, but there’s no guarantee that this will happen.
I think that the best thing that we could do for film photography is to “open source” it. We need to put together a huge database of all the recipes we have for emulsions, developers, fixers and everything else while also trying to rescue the recipes of all the films that are no longer on the market. Finding a DIY replacement for celluloid is also a must. I believe that having the ability to make our own film, at home or in a small workshop, it’s the only sustainable means of keeping film alive. Forever!
…and we’re done.
personally, I so times think that the term “street photography” is a little too broad and lazy, so Sorin’s choice of “city life” really resonates with me.
As someone who has only recently departed from shooting things and places; and still finds it difficult to capture a planned portrait, I’m drawn to this subset of images he’s shared and I love the way he frames people in the city surrounds (or should that be the way the city is framed by the people?)
From Istanbul to London, Brasov to Barcelona, I especially love the way he’s captured people in the midst of their every day lives, whilst keeping his perspective on the wider environment (as opposed to totally isolating individuals in each shot). It’s a wonderful look’ which I hope he develops and one which I may well practice myself in the future.
Please don’t forget to catch up with Sorin on Twitter and make sure you check out the links posted above while you’re at it.
We’ll be back soon with another insipiring film photograhpher but for now (as ever), 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.