I am Joy Celine Asto and this is why I shoot film
It’s a pleasure to be able to bring you all the work and words of Joy Celine Asto, whom some of you may remember from her article introducing Manila back at the top of 2017. Well, she’s back with a little more to say today.
Over to you, Joy!
Hi Joy, What’s this picture, then?
JCA: This is a self-portrait I took using a Pentax Espio 120 SW2 and expired Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) Centuria 400 for a photo diary project I did to document the last days of my 20s.
I hardly take photos of myself but this one I feel says a lot about me on a personal and artistic level. I’m mostly shy, emotional, and experimental. Oh, and I love shooting with point and shoot cameras once in a while.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
JCA: I’m a freelance writer by profession and a film photographer when I’m not. I write about art, photography, and sometimes, travel (I hope to do more of this). I shoot mostly portraits now after many, many years of shooting random stuff and trying to do street photography. I’m a simple person with big dreams that I’m still not done chasing.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
JCA: I actually grew up taking family and school pictures with film cameras but I didn’t have the interest in photography back then. I started shooting film again around 8 years ago, when I discovered Lomography.
Today, I keep shooting because it’s the only other consistent creative outlet I have for expressing myself and getting out whatever is in my head. It helps me tell the stories, emotions, and ideas that I cannot put into words.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
JCA: I didn’t really have an influence when I started out; I just wanted to experiment and shoot colorful, unique, and eye-catching photos the Lomography way. Today, I see myself being influenced mostly by emotive photographers like Nadia Maria, Maya Beano, Hayden Clay, Louis Dazy, Laura Makabresku, and my good friends Marta Huguet Cuadrado and Adrian Norbert Cuper.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
JCA: No, I shoot my photography projects entirely with film. I sometimes think about getting a compact digital camera for practicing street photography. But I don’t really see any pressing need for it at the moment since I’m not doing anything professionally (the only reason I see myself going digital/mixed medium).
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?
JCA: This year, I want to master visual storytelling and conveying emotions through my photography. I know it doesn’t always have to be through portraits, but when it comes to that, I want to start doing conceptual portrait projects. I always felt that my work is heading towards that direction.
With that thought, I also really want to be able to practice street photography again this year. Or at least, photos that aren’t portraits with a story to tell. I admittedly do it really badly and I never realized it until I noticed I do portraits better. It’s kind of a broad goal, but that’s the only way I can put it at the moment!
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
JCA: I find myself gravitating towards ideas, subjects, and imagery that are emotionally charged and have some sort of darkness to them. I guess it’s because I’ve always been drawn to photographs with moody, emotional, and surreal qualities. I want my images to make people feel, imagine, and escape in the same way.
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?
JCA: My Nikon FE2 with 50mm f/1.4 lens and Kodak EASTMAN DOUBLE-X and Agfa Vista 200. My Nikon SLR is the camera that taught me everything I know about photography, and the one I use the most. I love the cinematic mood of the Kodak Double-X for black and white photos. Agfa Vista 200 is one of the most reliable color negative films I’ve tried and it would be good to have that extra bit of sensitivity.
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?
JCA: Hmmm, difficult question! I think I’d go for a 400 ISO film at least, like Fuji Superia 400 (but Kodak Portra 400 would be ideal) as I think it’s perfect for someone like me who does a lot of portraits but shoots some random subjects occasionally. I’d love to shoot lots somewhere scenic in Europe, as I’ve never been there but I know there are plenty of beautiful spots around.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
JCA: One last conceptual portrait set with Kodak EASTMAN DOUBLE-X 5222. Since the first roll, I’ve felt that this is the black and white film that best fits my style or creative vision. I feel some sort of a connection with it, and it has never failed me.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
JCA: That it’s just for hipsters or people who want to look cool. I’d show and tell them that a great number of people who are still shooting film love it for how the photos fit their creative vision. It’s not about fitting in at all. I noticed that those who have done it just for the sake of “coolness” eventually find that it takes too much work compared to their smartphone filters!
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
JCA: Considering how things are going presently, I think we’re going to see more of the independent film brands and manufacturers thriving in the near future. Film photographers, then having either sustained their numbers or grown in population, will be keen on supporting these independent businesses. More and more younger creatives are getting curious about the process, look, and feel of film and I don’t see the interest slowing down anytime soon.
~ Joy Celine Asto
Another interviewee is waiting in the wings and will be with you all same time next week. In the meantime, please check out This week’s fresh articles here on EMULSIVE: double exposure portraits by Clara Araujo and Sandeep Sumal’s 5 Frames With on ILFORD XP2 Super!
Thanks again for reading and as ever, keep shooting, folks!
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