It’s a real pleasure to be able to bring you today’s interviewee, Toni Skokovic. Regular readers will know Toni from his Long exposure test series here on EMULSIVE, as well as his excellent piece documenting Blue Hour using Kodak Ektar 100.
Enough of looking to the past, however. Toni, it’s over to you!
Hi Toni, what’s this picture, then?
TS: This is my first sunset picture, taken in the Summer of 2003 on Bass Lake in Ontario. This was the first time I realized the expressive power of photography, ability to capture the emotion of the moment with the possibility of going beyond a snapshot.
By no means a great or technically perfect photograph, it was taken by a digital Olympus point and shoot after all, but it signifies my jump off point.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
TS: I like to describe myself as photography enthusiast. The labels of “photographer” or “artist” cause a bit of discomfort.
I have a fulfilling daytime career as an IT professional, but photography is what gives me escape from the routine, and the ability to dig deeper into the side of my brain that usually does not get exercised during the work week.
Photography is an escape into the natural and metaphysical world.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
TS: My introduction to film, like so many things around photography, came about as a product of experimentation and curiosity. Trying to revive an old Soviet camera got me to try film and that led to shooting a roll of ILFORD XP2 Super on a walk along the Humber River in Toronto.
This arbitrary experimentation in the Spring of 2015 showed me the unique aesthetic of black and white film, superior in expressive power to digital.
It went from there.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
TS: While I admire the work of many photographers, I find that most of my inspiration comes from music, poetry and writing.
In terms of craft, my biggest educators and motivators are Ted Forbes and Brooks Jensen. Listening to their podcasts and watching their videos has helped me bridge many barriers, both in terms of technique as well as challenge of creative thinking.
All this, however, fades when compared with support at home, with understanding life partner, the time is there to practice – and that is the biggest encouragement.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
TS: Yes – I am a mixed medium photographer. I see film as a purely artistic medium, a way to deliver a specific look that best blends the emotion into the scene. For everything else, digital photography, including mobile photography, is easier, more convenient and faster.
With artistic endeavors, expression and emotion take the forefront, this is where film comes in.
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?
TS: The next stop is developing a multi-image narrative in a physical form. For black and white photography, I want to rely on photographic print in serialized fashion.
Mastering darkroom printing and settling on the format, number of prints and layout, is the technique development I want to dedicate the next 6 to 12 months to.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
TS: Nature and our surroundings seem an endless source of inspiration. I started photographing more seriously as a part of my train watching outings, and I may still get into that some more.
Still, the common denominator is a contemplative evaluation of my environment…
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 do you take with you and why?
TS: This answer requires a bit of thinking, but it ends up being simple. Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 50mm/1.8 and two 36 exposure rolls of Ilford HP5+. With this, one can shoot anything, anywhere, in any light.
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?
TS: Coastal scene and location, medium format camera, Mamiya 645, tripod and equal supply of ILFORD Delta 100 Professional and Kodak Ektar 100 film.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
TS: Sunset on a 120 roll of Kodak Ektar 100. Time sequence of setting sun, dying day and darkness that ensues. Of 15 frames, series of 3-6 to mark the end of the film era.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
TS: That is comparable to the “good old days” – film, in my opinion, has a new history and future. We need to forget the past and stop talking about the old days. Film transcends from commercial and professional into artistic. Pining for the past is holding us back.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
TS: Photographic art, creative possibilities and moderate growth for companies that recognize and support this community. I hope that a camera manufacturer will join these ranks soon.
~ Toni Skokovic
Thanks very much to Toni for stepping up. On a personal level, his blue hour exposures on Kodak Ektar have inspired my to try my hand at grabbing some of those amazing colours and tones. Let’s just say I’m not there just yet!
I’l like to pick out a point Toni made that’s been bugging me somewhat for the past few weeks:
“Pining for the past is holding us back.”
I think a lot of film shooters – especially those of us able to remember what it was like to shoot film when it was the only medium available – are guilty of looking back to those “good old days” and wishing we could somehow return to them. I know I’ve been guilty of that myself, especially when it comes to cameras.
Speaking about film stocks specifically (the camera situation is a WHOLE other conversation), I think it’s important to remember that the quality of film stocks available to us today is second to none and whilst some beloved film stocks may be gone, this year has seen ten film stocks announced and/or released so far. I know of at least two more on their way before the end of the year and that’s without even thinking about the rumours for 2018. Exciting times are ahead.
We can look back at what is no longer here and buy as much of it as we can to keep celebrating those good old days, or we can exercise a bit of latitude and get out to support the industry as it is today. If we don’t, we can’t really complain about its eventual demise.
TLDR: buy fresh film, people!
Thanks again to Toni and if you aren’t already, I would suggest following him on Twitter and Instagram. I’d also highly recommend you take a long hard look at his website, which contains even more amazing photography.
There will be another film photography for you to get to know next week but in the meantime – please – keep shooting, folks!
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