Is it me, or are these weeks flying by? Today we’ve been lucky enough to snag some time with the irreverent but sage, Diz.
Hailing from (read: currently residing in) sunny San Diego, California, Diz seems to be either constantly satisfying his GAS, or dashing around the city with a wide angle lens strapped to his Nikon…or was it some Zeiss glass on a well-loved Leica M2? Better ask him yourself.
Diz is a rather interesting character. One look at his work and you know that there’s something special in store but when you try to talk to him about it, he’s all rather humble and evasive. I think we managed to eek out a little more than most but his photographs speak volumes, even when the man himself does not.
Over to you, Diz…
Hi Diz, what’s this picture, then?
It’s an image of Downtown Los Angeles. I can go through a huge list of reasons why I chose this to share, but really, this image reflects how I typically take my photographs; very impulsive.
I don’t remember taking this picture at all. How I composed it, what was in the image, where the birds came from; it’s all very vague to me. I only remember resting at that corner after a long walk.
Ok, so who are you?
Just someone who tries to stay out of traffic. That’s about the best way I can describe myself.
When did you start shooting film?
I’m an infant in the film photography world. Still crawling on my hands and knees. Maybe about two years ago.
What about now, why do you shoot film and what drives you to keep shooting?
It’s completely organic and emotional for me. I love the emotional roller coaster that film offers. It makes me feel more alive than digital photography at the moment…plus, there’s still a lot for me to explore in the way of processes, formats, films, etc.
Currently, I have been all about shooting all sorts of ECN-2 film (motion picture stock).
Not too many shoot and home develop this type of film, since the remjet removal process scares them off. It turns out to be very easy and economical – if you can learn to bulk roll 400ft or larger reels.
Another thing that caught my interest was learning to mix stain developer, 510-pyro in particular, which was developed by Jay DeFehr. It’s not very widely used as far as I can tell. It’s even less widely used to develop Kodak 5222 (Double-X), so I decided to go down that path of exploration.
Turns out I like the pairing very much!
For me, shooting film is not just about the picture, but also about exploring the other aspects of film photography that go into creating an image on film.
I try to go down roads less travelled in hopes of sharing information that others in the film community may be looking for but are having difficulty to find. In return, I hope to get feedback so that I can continue to grow and eventually be able to get down roads that are even less travelled!
Having infinite possibilities is exciting.
Any favorite subject matter?
Shit. Right now…anything!
I am still at that stage where I am just taking pictures to see how they would come out on whatever film and developing process I am using. I don’t think I’m coming out of that frame of mind any time soon.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll?
My last roll would be a film that I’ve never tried before. That’s a long list.
(EMULSIVE: fair is fair but tell us what you’d choose from what you’ve already shot)
Ok ok ok…if I really had to pick one last roll of film to shoot it would probably be Kodak Ektar 100. I really thought I would have said some type of black and white film, like Double-X, but something compelled me to say Ektar 100…it just pops colors the way I like to see them.
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?
Today, it’s my Nikon FM3a paired with my 24mm/f2.8 AI-S. I am simply faster with this set up than anything else I have. Ask me again in a few months as I continue to work with my other cameras.
For the film, same answer as the last questions, but most likely two other films I haven’t tried yet. Sounds a bit cocky, but I really want to feel out of my comfort zone and explore more film stocks.
You have an unlimited supply of film to shoot in one location. Where do you go?
My parent’s home. I could take endless portraits of them and around the home I grew up in. My way of making up for lost time.
What do you think is people’s greatest misconception about film photography and how would you set it straight?
Most people I come across think film is for fine artists. Ha!
To set them straight, I’d simply have them look at my images, then loan them one of my film cameras to let them have a go at it and ask them to think about how they feel during every step of the process.
We’d sit down for coffee and talk about it. [EMULSIVE: great idea, very simple, very effective]
Finally, in your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
It will continue in one form or another but what that is, I can only guess.
It may come in the form of the instant photography that Polaroid paved the way for. Sounds ironic since they shut down, but we’re seeing a resurgence of this type of photography (Instax, Impossible Project, New55)… and it could quite possibly meet the needs of this new generation. I’m not an instant photography expert by any means, so I really just bring this up for discussion.
What we really need to do is welcome anyone into the film fold – no matter what their approach – so that we can continue both its existence and evolution.
And there we are, all done. Was it me, or did that seem short, like really short? I’ve grown to know (and admire Diz) over the past few months and I hope that we’ll have Diz back just as he’s finished shooting EVERY SINGLE FILM IN THE WORLD….not long to wait, given his appetite.
In all seriousness, I think that it’s very easy for shooters who have been at it for a while to forget the feeling and unpredictability of trying new film stocks.
When we find a film which works for us, we can get bogged down with it. What might start off as an exploration of every facet of a particular stock and developer combination can quickly turn into a very soft, difficult to exit comfort zone. We might reach for something new now and again but ultimately go with what we’ve grown to know…it’s a double-edged sword.
Whilst I can’t say that I’m an old hand at film photography myself, I still try to alternate between films I’m comfortable with and those I’ve had bad experiences with in the past…and using those I love in a different way than before (5-stop Tri-X push, anyone?).
A great example would be my almost total aversion to any 120 format Fuji color negative stock. When I first started shooting Pro 160NS and 400H, I’d always get a grey sheen over my images no matter what I did. After staying away for a year or so, I got handed a roll and to be honest, I’ve never looked back. Sometimes it takes space, or a new frame of mind to realize what you were doing wrong and to find something wonderful that was there all along.
In this respect, Diz’s comments and enthusiasm for film really resonate with me.
You can catch up with Diz’s work on his website, look through more of his work on Flickr, or even stalk him on Twitter (I’d recommend the last, he really is quite a funny guy).
We’ll be back again soon but in the meantime, you’ll just have to find something else to do.
Keep shooting, folks.
The community 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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