Along with NEOPAN 100 ACROS, ILFORD FP4 PLUS was one of the first BW films I tried back in 2004, when I started to take photographs. As a consequence, even today I find myself imagining the scenes I see as fine-grained pictures, with the vast midtones of grays these two film stocks produce.

Recently I’ve been digitizing my old negatives with my mirrorless camera (a Fujifilm X-E3 + Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 “macro”). While scrambling over my drawer, I found some strips of a 120 format negative I shot back in 2013, when I was unemployed and used to take long walks through São Paulo, photographing my hometown.

I always enjoyed small cameras and, around that time, eager to try out medium format photography, I bought a Walzflex, a Japanese copy of the famous Rolleiflex, but considerably smaller than the German TLR. I still have a lot of fun with this camera, especially because it allows me to look indirectly to reality, as a submarine sailor looking at the sky through a periscope.

Aided by the frame numbers at the negative’s margins, I remember taking the subway from downtown to the eastern part of the city. At Belém neighbourhood, a place with an industrial past, I took two shots.

I can’t recall if it was on the same day, but the following photographs show Largo da Memória, a place downtown São Paulo where horses and mules used to drink water back in the 19th century, as we can see in a photograph by Militão Augusto de Azevedo called “Paredão de Piques, Ladeiras da Consolação e da Rua da Palha, 1862”.

I took two shots of the square from Quirino de Andrade street. Afterward, I went to Viaduto do Chá, a historical viaduct that crosses Anhangabaú valley. I wanted to have a broader view of the city, which isn’t something easy to achieve with the 75mm lens my camera has (something like a 50mm in terms of 35mm photography).

5 Frames... Around Largo da Memória on ILFORD FP4 PLUS and a Walzflex TLR 6x6 (120 Format / EI 125 / Walz 75mm f/3.5) - by André Leite Coelho

Up in the viaduct though, while framing the skyline, I started to talk with a fortune teller, her white coat shining under the autumn sun. Her name was Dona Marisa and she asked if I wanted to have my future read on the buzios, a divinatory practice brought to Brazil by African cultures. I agreed and asked to take a portrait of her. She agreed. Looking at this picture now I wonder if back in 2013 she could see what I’m living now in 2021.

~ André

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André Leite Coelho

André Leite Coelho is an artist and photographer. His work deals with themes such as memory and meditations regarding the photographic image, and uses the photobook to interwind images and (sometimes) texts.

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