This week’s interviewee has been shooting film for a little over a year at the time of writing. Fresh blood! Let’s see what he has to say.
Over to you, Maxime!
Hi Maxime, what’s this picture, then?
ME: This Picture is quite different from what I am used to shooting but it has a very important meaning to me. I took this shot during a Road trip across the Western part of the USA with some of my friends. On the first day we met these two gentlemen whilst exploring the streets of San Francisco.
They were on the street asking for “cash or cannabis” in such a happy “hippie” way that we had a quick chat and I asked them for a picture to immortalize this extravagant encounter. Turns out the guy to the left knew a few things about analog photography and recognized my Focasport 1D.
It may not be my best shot from this trip but definitely one of those shots that has a story and a great memory behind it! The amazing touch to this shot is not the shot itself but the improbable encounter between a photograph and a very extravagant connoisseur during their respective lives. The encounter may only have lasted a few minutes, but they have left an amazing memory in my mind. It was one of the shots I was most impatient to discover when I developed my film!
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
ME: I’ll start off with a quote because I love quotes:
« One of my passions is photography. I always carry a camera in my bag whenever I travel. I always take pictures wherever I go, and some of them end up being really crazy ones. »
~ Sunidhi Chauhan
Some of my other passions include, of course, travelling and rugby. I have had the chance to travel through Europe and North America, I even lived in the USA, in Greenville South Carolina, when I was younger!
Today I am a French business school student in love with analog photography wishing to continue discovering the world and capturing its beauty! As the quote says, I never leave my house without a camera. I believe there is beauty everywhere and, in every moment, so just in case my camera is always ready to capture what Henri Cartier Bresson calls “the decisive moment”.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
ME: I started shooting film in September 2017 when my grandfather came to me and gave me his old cameras, an old Focasport 1D and a Voigtlander Bessa 1. I was fascinated by them and was eager to try them out. I found a lab in Lyon, France, where I used to live, who still sold and developed film. I bought my first roll: Fujifilm Superia 400 that I shot on my Focasport.
I immediately fell in love with film and it is my love for analog and my will to expand my knowledge of it that keeps driving me to shoot film. There is something more tangible, more magic, and more eternal to it.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
ME: My main source of influence when I started my photography was my grandfather. He was always into documenting everything important in his life with his camera. It did not matter whether the important stuff was his family, a voyage, nature’s beauty or something of interest in the streets. I kept this mentality, which is why I explain later that I am not attracted to something particular in photography.
I believe there is beauty everywhere and in everything, we can choose to see it or not, as a photographer I try to capture it the best way I can.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
ME: I think the best way to get into photography is to try out all the different mediums, so I shoot DSLR, 35mm, medium format and I also recently acquired a Polaroid Camera. I guess it depends on what I am trying to shoot.
I usually use my DSLR when I travel to take more “touristic” shots and end up with way too many pictures on my hard drive! Whereas I mostly use analog when I try more artistic shots or day to day street photography. However, I always have an analog camera with me when travelling.
I love getting the 10×15 prints after a travel. I guess I’m old-school, but nothing beats a real photo album of your trip. A physical artefact to tell the story, share your memories and, years later, relive them. Also, such an object is a testimony of the places you’ve seen and the things you have lived. It leaves an indelible print of life itself for the future generations, in the secret hope of sharing your view of the world and inspiring 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?
ME: The main challenge to come for my photography is learning to developpe my own black and white film. I have not had the time to learn yet but that is definitely my next step. Mastering all the steps of film photography and being able to live my photography from A to Z would be amazing! This would also be the cheaper solution for development and It would allow me to shoot and develop anywhere!
My second challenge would be to learn how to print in a darkroom. I just find this step so magical I would love to know how to do it and print my own work! This might not be in the next 12 months as I have many things planned but definitely something to plan out in the years to come in the short term.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
ME: I would not pinpoint one certain subject or matter in my photography, it really depends on my feelings and my inspiration in the moment. I definitely shoot more landscape and street photography than portraits and people but occasionally I’ll take some shots of people.
I guess the important aspect in my photography is memories, I like to document life as I live it, so I always have a camera on me wherever I go just in case something gets my attention and I want to document this precise moment.
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?
ME: Although my Focasport 1D has a very important emotional value to me as it was my grandfather’s, I would have to say my Minolta SRT 100x with MC Rokkor-PF 50mm F/2 lens because it is just so versatile. I shot most of my last vacation trip with this setup and it was perfect for everything. I shot portraits of my friends, street photography, landscapes. Its light meter is also spot on. This is definitely my go-to camera for all types of photography!
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?
ME: If I had an unlimited of film to shoot I would probably go with ILFORD HP5 PLUS, hopefully, I’ll shoot it once I know how to develop, that way I can go wherever I want and develop it on the go.
The location is a hard question, there are so many places I wish to see and discover. But I guess my dream destination would be New Zealand and Fiji, I have always wanted to visit this part of the world.
The beautiful Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud) landscapes and sceneries, as well as the Maori culture with dark black tattoos, would go perfectly with black and white photography. I could see myself living or travelling in this amazing destination for a long time in search of things to see and people to meet, If I add to this adventure an unlimited supply of black and white film to capture this dream it would simply be perfect.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
ME: If I only have one roll of film left to shoot I want those shots to me memorable. I would probably go for black and white because I love shooting it on film. So, once again, I would shoot ILFORD HP5 PLUS. In order to make it memorable, it would have to be a special event with people that I care for deeply.
I would definitely organize a trip with friends to go someplace amazing, live a great adventure and capture the important moments, the people, the faces, the feelings, and of course the sights. I know it will be a challenge to capture the whole adventure with just one roll, but I would do my best to make it work 😉
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
ME: I think the biggest misconception about film photography is that it is an outdated medium that has no interest today. When I started shooting people would ask me why I shoot film when I had a perfect DSLR waiting to be used.
Photography is not only about the “quality” of the image and how sharp it can be, it’s about what you photograph and how you do it. It’s not because there is grain, or the colors are not photoshopped that your image is bad.
I think people have a misconception of photography, where every shot has to be remastered, edited, modified. Film brings you back to the basics, and lets you shoot more freely. I think to set this strait people should just shoot one roll of film on an old camera. I gave an old SLR to one of my friends for her birthday and the same thing that happened to me happened to her, she fell in love with film photography.
One roll is all it takes to understand the thrill people have of coming back to the magical medium that is film.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
ME: I think film photography definitely has a future amongst young photographers. Indeed, there is a certain nostalgia to it for 90s Kids like me.
More seriously, I think it will stay an important medium because of the philosophy behind it. The shots captured on film are captured forever. It’s not like what you get on a phone or on a digital camera, film is not just electronic data.
I think this is what motivates the young generation to shoot film. Before shooting you think, you feel, you ask yourself “Is this shot really worth taking?” whereas in digital you shoot then you think, you may delete your shot immediately, one week, month, or year later because it has no meaning to you, or you store it in another hard drive within a file that you will probably never open again. I know I have tons of pictures on hard drives, but the ones I look at the most are my analog printed photo albums, and I think many people are in this same situation.
Film is true, honest in the sense that your shot is rarely perfect, but it is not a reason to delete it like we do in digital photography, these imperfections make every shot rich and memorable.
We’ll be back for another fresh interview in a couple of weeks but in the meantime, why not stick around and check out this week’s other fresh batch of articles – check out the sidebar to get stuck in.
Keep shooting, folks!
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