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EMULSIVE interview #188: I am Ted Vieira and this is why I shoot film – NSFWEMULSIVE interview #188: I am Ted Vieira and this is why I shoot film – NSFW

EMULSIVE interview #188: I am Ted Vieira and this is why I shoot film – NSFW

Today’s interviewee is the man once described as “the man with the silkiest voice you’ll ever hear” (by me), Ted Viera. Trust me, I’m not wrong on this one. If that wasn’t frustrating enough for those of us with voices like broken glass scraping against balloons, he’s actually a pretty talented photographer…and musician. Honestly, it’s enough to make you sick…

Putting my latent jealousy aside, for a moment, this is one I think you’re going to enjoy. Be forewarned, at I’ve marked the piece as NSFW because of a few images below.

When you’re ready, scroll down.

Over to you, Ted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Ted, what’s this picture, then?

Jonny - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Jonny – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

TV: This is the photo that convinced me that I would be completely addicted to shooting film. I had been working with digital gear for about the past 10 years or so. About two months before I took this shot I decided to pick up a film camera.

After I felt comfortable with the gear, I decided to do a film photo shoot. Jonny and I had a great shoot and once I saw this image, I knew that film was the perfect medium for me. It had that look and feel that I had been seeing all my life from film photographers. The beautiful tones, the silky blacks, so much presence… It had the look that I would normally spend hours in post, trying to achieve with digital files.

I love this photograph.

 

 

Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)

Selfie - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

Selfie – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

TV: I’m Ted Vieira; born in California; grew up in Alaska; moved to Portland, Oregon when I was 19; eventually landed in Las Vegas where I currently reside.

I’m the father of Celeste and Nathan, both grown, and I’m “Uncle Ted” to Noah, a 9 year old boy that I’ve helped raise since he was born.

Earlier in life, I spent 30 plus years as a professional musician, playing up and down the West Coast (that’s what eventually brought me to Vegas).

In the past decade or so I’ve morphed into a photographer, media producer and web consultant. Black and white film photography is my obsession.

 

 

When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?

Silhouette - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

Silhouette – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

TV: As I mentioned, I only started shooting film a little over two years ago. About a decade before that I originally started shooting with digital gear. I wanted to be a professional photographer and digital just seemed to be the practical choice at the time.

The last digital Canon body I had was a 5D MkII, with L glass. Then I moved to the Fujifilm X series. Actually, it was the experience of shooting with Fuji’s cameras and lenses that got me interested in shooting with a film camera. I loved the film-like dials and rings that Fuji used to manually control the exposure without having to look at a menu system.

Soon after I started shooting with Fuji’s cameras I started seeing more film photography videos popping up on YouTube. This really got my attention.

Yuliya (first shoot) - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Yuliya (first shoot) – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

I started watching videos of photographers who chose to shoot film. This work was so beautiful, and in a time where I thought, “Yeah man, of course I need to shoot digital, it’s 2016…” these guys were doing such beautiful work on film.

The more I enjoyed the tactile manual control dials of the Fuji cameras, and the more I saw photographers doing this amazingly beautiful work on film… yeah, I was hooked. I decided to start shooting film.

I’d always wanted to shoot with Leica and now going into film, it actually seemed affordable. I picked up a Leica M6 and a Summicron 50mm lens.

Vegas Noir - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

Vegas Noir – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

When I first started shooting film I figured I’d probably only shoot a couple rolls a month; just a hobby. Wow, did that quickly change! I shot my first roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 and took it to one of the labs that are still here in Vegas. They told me it would be about 10 days before I could pick it up. Man, I’m way too impatient for that.

I went ahead and let them develop that first roll, but went home that night and watched a handful of Youtube videos about developing black and white film. I ordered the developing gear and chemicals, bought a flatbed scanner and I was up and running! I wasn’t shooting a couple rolls a month as I had anticipated… I was shooting several rolls per week.

Now that I could develop my own film I was so hooked.

Caddy - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Caddy – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

I loved the way the film looked; I loved loading the film in the camera; I loved advancing the film for each shot; focusing through the rangefinder; taking the shot and NOT being able to see it on the back of the camera. I loved, and still do love, all of that.

That’s how things started for me, and that’s the reason why I’m still obsessed with black and white film photography. The look and the whole experience. I love shooting film; I love developing film. Scanning…hmmmmm, not so much, but it’s okay. The rest makes up for it, by far.

 

 

Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?

TV: When I got into music, I fell in love with jazz; audibly AND visually. I loved the photographs of Herman Leonard, Dennis Stock and W. Eugene Smith. Man, I loved their photography; the smokey club scenes; the portraiture of such iconic musicians; the amazing documentary style like what Eugene Smith produced during the Jazz Loft Project. It was this kind of photography that really made me want to take pictures.

Nightlife - Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Nightlife – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Even when I started doing work with models, helping them produce photos for their agency portfolios, I would try and invoke that contrasty black and white style into my work. I started studying the work of Helmut Newton and one of my favorite fashion photographers, Peter Lindbergh. Man, just beautiful stuff.

Then I started getting into street photography. I found out about people like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau. Man, I love their photography so much and would work on my digital shots to try and get that “look.” I liked my photography at the time, but never really felt completely satisfied with the look. That didn’t happen until I started shooting film.

Elsa - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Elsa – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

One of my biggest inspirations today is Saul Leiter. I love his street photography and I even love his color work; but my favorite work of Saul’s is the more intimate shots of people, mostly women that he shot with back in the day. Such an intimate connection; a more candid feel; a strong sense of reality and the human element. Man, I love that.

Yuliya Noir - Kodak Tri-X 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Yuliya Noir – Kodak Tri-X 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

I’ve never been a fan of over processed and over produced photos. They don’t feel “real” to me. If I see a shot that’s so posed, so staged and so processed, I have a hard time relating to it. It might be amazing and spectacular, and even extremely well done by an advanced photographer. But if it doesn’t feel real to me… I can’t connect with the image.

That’s what I love about this intimate work from Saul Leiter. Very real. Amazing feel. To me that’s the most important element of a photograph… the intimate connection, the feel, the emotional impact.

 

 

Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?

TV: Yes, I do shoot both digital and film. I still do photography for clients. For that kind of work, it needs to be digital. Occasionally I’m able to mix in some film shots, but really, these people want digital and I understand that. As long as I’m shooting for clients I’ll need to keep some digital gear around.

For my personal photography, I shoot about 90% film. I will shoot digital from time to time. I even picked up a Leica M (typ262) so that if I did want to shoot digital, I could still use my Leica glass and still have that zen-like minimalist experience that I’ve fallen in love with from Leica.

I can’t share any of my client film work for obvious reasons but the images above are from a recent shoot I did with Yuliya that was a personal project. I really loved the look of Tri-X for that setting. But I was actually also pretty happy with some of the digital shots I took. For these, I was using a Leica M Typ 262 and the same Summicron 50mm I used with the shots from the M6, all shot using natural window light.

To be honest this digital setup has given me the closest joy that I feel from the film shots over any other digital camera I’ve used. It’s close, although I just feel the film shots still just have a bit more “life” to them.

 

 

What’s your next challenge…your next step? How do you see yourself improving your technique? What aspect of your photography would you like to try and master in the next 12 months?

Willow Beach - Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to EI 1600 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Willow Beach – Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to EI 1600 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

TV: To be honest, I just want to enjoy continuing to shoot film and follow the path that seems to naturally lead me to whatever comes next. For now I’m shooting 35mm and medium format, but I think at some point it would be fun to move into large format photography; maybe a view camera, 4×5, or maybe 8×10. I don’t know, but I bet the experience is amazing.

I recently had an enlarger and darkroom supplies given to me. I look forward to setting up a darkroom at some point and start printing my photos that way. Currently, I’m still using the hybrid method: a Paterson tank to develop the film, then scan the negatives and print from Lightroom. I’ll probably always do that for the most part, but it would be exciting to be able to do darkroom printing now and then.

 

 

Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?

TV: Primarily I love beauty/intimate portraiture. I love working with someone I can connect with and create powerful images in that style. That is such a rewarding experience.

I do love urban landscapes; even a little nature/landscape photography lately.

As I mentioned, the most important part of a photo to me, regardless of the genre, is the feel, the emotional impact. I love photos that tend to be a little more “moody” than most. I love that contrasty Noir look, a sense of mystery and passion, vulnerability, maybe even loneliness. Regardless of whether I’m working with a person, or photographing a deserted alley at night; that’s the feel, that’s the photography I’m most passionate about.

 

 

You have 2 minutes to prepare for an unknown assignment. You can take one camera, one lens, two films and you have no idea what you’ll be shooting. What to you take with you and why?

TV: Leica M6, Summicron 35mm, Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS and Kodak Tri-X 400.

The Leica M6 is the camera I connect with the most. I have two bodies, one from 1985 and the other from 1995. The meter is a little better, more solid on the newer one but both are wonderful bodies and are non-TTL with the .72 magnification viewfinder. I love the minimal approach. Completely mechanical; all manual; so intuitive. It does have a meter just in case the lighting might be a little tricky.

The Summicron lenses are so punchy. I love the micro-contrast these lenses put out. Since I don’t know what I’m shooting, I’d go with 35mm because of the versatility. I can get a wide enough shot if needed, and even if it ends up being a portrait shoot, I can make the 35 work.

Jonny - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Jonny – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

I’d take ACROS with me because I’ve never shot a more beautiful film that just makes me melt when I see the images.

The second film I’d take is Kodak Tri-X 400. If it’s a low light shoot I’ll have no problem, I’ll just push it to 1600 and I can pretty much shoot anything with that. I’ve been shooting with Tri-X more and more recently (mainly due to Fujifilm’s announcement of discontinuing of its film) and I’ve found it to be equally beautiful as ACROS, but in a very different way. I love that contrast combined with that grain. Powerful.

 

 

You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location for the rest of your life. What do you take, where do you go and why?

TV: I’d have to go with ACROS or Tri-X. I guess if ACROS does go away, the choice will be made for me. And I’d be happy as a clam, either way. I love the look of both.

Portland, Oregon - Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

Portland, Oregon – Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS pushed to EI 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 35mm

For location, it would be easy for me to say somewhere like New York. Wow, what an endless supply of subject matter. But for me, I’m going to pick Portland, Oregon. It’s still got that older urban vibe to it, but I just have more or a personal connection to Portland. But man, those moody, gray days; the older turn-of-the-century architecture; the amazing nature of the Northwest, and the cool people that live there.

 

 

You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?

TV: I guess I’d go with ACROS. I’ve been partnered with that film so strongly for the past couple of years. I guess it just seems fitting that it would be the last roll of film I could shoot.

Now, if I knew it was my last roll…

I’d like to find an interesting room, something with an older look but not overly staged or corny, but would have an authentic look, maybe using older antique furniture and soft lighting, maybe lamp light or window light. Maybe a bedroom, but not necessarily. Just a room in a house that had that sense of personal space, intimacy.

Just because I’m so happy with the last shoot I did with Yuliya, I’d like to have her on that shoot. She is not only just a cool person to work with, but also has that way of really being natural in front of the camera. Whether if she’s looking into the lens, or away; she has that sense of authenticity, it’s real. She has that gift of connection that she can comfortably let happen in front of the camera. It’s not always that way with people, and I love being able to create with someone like that.

If I didn’t know it was my last roll…

Man, sadly, it might be some pretty unremarkable work! I have no problem “wasting” film; shooting the most ordinary things; as long as there’s something about the scene that resonates with me. It doesn’t mean that it will resonate with anyone else, and might even leave people scratching their heads.

There’s a good chance those types of shots might make up my last roll.

 

 

What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?

Yuliya, Silk - Kodak Tri-X 400 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Yuliya, Silk – Kodak Tri-X 400 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

TV: I think the biggest misconception about shooting film is that it’s expensive.

Sure, you have to buy a roll every 36 exposures or so (just talking about 35mm film here) and there are development costs, but overall I think the cost of shooting film is much cheaper than shooting digital. I’ll use the film and chemicals that I use for this examples:

Say you shoot 2 rolls of Tri-X a week, at around $6/roll (sometimes I shoot more, sometimes less). For a year that’s roughly a little over $600 (USD). And, you could lower that by bulk rolling your own film.

I use about 2 bottles of developer (HC-110), 2 bottles of fixer (Photographers Formulary TF-4) and 2 bottles of Photo Flo a year. That’s about $100.

Okay, so that’s about $700/year. And this is just a rough estimate, your mileage may vary.

That might be more than someone would pay for memory cards on a given year, but then there are other costs to consider.

The actual cost of gear. I bought an Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens for $180.00 this year. $180 for the complete kit! And that camera and lens combination delivers pretty amazing, pro-quality results. Even we look at something like a Leica M3 or M6… yeah, those will cost you more, especially if you want to go with Leica glass. But the thing is, those cameras were built to last. With an occasional CLA a good film body and lens can last you a lifetime. My M6 could be the last camera I ever shoot with.

Digital bodies, for a decent quality camera, can range from $1000 – $7000, depending on what you shoot with. And the thing with digital… those cameras are not going to last as long, not to mention we’re encouraged to buy the newer model roughly every three years or so.

The thing is, shooting film or digital can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you care to make it. I just don’t see the misconception that shooting film is too expensive as a reason to go with digital. And don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against digital. Amazing stuff! I just don’t get it when people say shooting film is too expensive.

 

 

In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?

Scenic View - Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to EI 1600 - Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

Scenic View – Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to EI 1600 – Leica M6 + Summicron 50mm

TV: Man, it’s hard to say. To be honest, it’s hard to say what the future of film OR digital is.

People in general, are creatures of convenience. I think that will always keep digital as the dominant part of the market. The film world will continue to grow, though. I think the experience is just too rewarding. Most people will continue to shoot digital because it makes everything so much easier, but I would like to think there will always be enough people who love the process of digging in, being more involved in each shot. That enthusiasm is powerful. I think it’s enough to provide the film manufactures with enough revenue to make film a viable industry.

Some film types are going away. But we still have so many to choose from. New film types are being manufactured. Instant film is getting more popular all the time. Instax is Fuji’s biggest selling photography product. Polaroid is coming back, getting stronger all the time.

People are loving the tactile experience of film. I hope that never changes. It won’t for me.

~ Ted

 


 

Be careful at the water’s edge, you might slip and fall in….which is what essentially what Ted did.

Some may take a financial tally of film vs digital to be unnecessary today but they’re relevant, especially at the most basic level of monetary justification for those of us coming from a digital background. They have personal meaning, which may not work for others – especially when you get into medium and large format or start straying into “premium” colour negative and of course, slide film.

It goes without saying that that true value of film vs digital is a not only a financial one, as Ted rightly points out more than once. The value I would need from my medium and gear in a paid environment as a commercial photographer is totally different from the value I require in personal work where time may not be as limited and outcomes are a specific creative choice.

I might “need” to spend another $4k on a digital camera or another $4k on an 8×10 enlarger (arbitrary figures, naturally). Anyway, I digress and lose my point a little. The bottom line is to please do what brings you joy, and when required, do what you need to do: shoot film, shoot digital, shoot both, shoot what works.

You know who you are and yes, I am talking to you. Please don’t lose hope.

Please do make sure you catch up with Ted over on Twitter, and IG. Check out his podcastzines, YouTube channel and if you’re not too tired after all that, his “actual photography website” (his words, not mine ;))

I’ll be back with another interviewee in a couple of weeks but in the meantime, please do scroll back up and check out what’s out on EMULSIVE this week. It’s only Wednesday and I’m already dizzy.

Keep shooting, folks.

~ EM

Your turn

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.

 

 

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About The Author

EMULSIVE

Self confessed film-freak and film photography mad-obsessive and OVERLORD at emulsive.org. I push, pull, shoot, boil and burn film everyday, and I want to share what I learn.

8 Comments

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  1. lasousa2015

    Great, thoughtful responses to Mr. E’s probes! Really enjoy watching your videos Ted and keep up the great work.

    Reply
  2. A friend just recently told me about Ted’s podcast and then this interview pops up! Ted has a lovely voice, not only vocally, but visually as well.

    Reply
  3. Phil

    Superb photos and outlook on photography. Excellent read!

    Reply
  4. @TedVieira @KodakProFilmBiz @leica_camera Great work Ted. Are those portraits with the Summicron’s at… https://t.co/1gW1zMei11

    Reply
  5. Beautiful work Ted !! Man, you blew me away. Thank you for sharing your work and the interview.

    Reply

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