Welcome all. This week I have the pleasure of bringing you the work and words of Josip Šore, medical student and film photographer from Croatia.
Over to you, Josip!
Hi Josip, what’s this picture, then?
JS: The image of a tree in Zagreb is maybe the most important image I have ever taken on this path of analogue photography. If not the most important, it’s certainly my favorite.
This image contains a lot of firsts. It was the first ever photo I made on true black and white film. It was the first ever 6×6 square, even the first ever medium-format image. It was made on a badly treated Yashica-12 with a completely hazy and unusable taking lens. This Lomography Earl Gray 100 was literally a test roll to see if I would have to return it to the seller.
This image is also the first I noticed a minimalist style developing within me, and that style remains my favorite form of expression, be it landscape(s) or whatever form of photography.
I believe that a photographic print is at its strongest when it’s a miniature, or 10×8 at the largest. Such prints offer much more intimacy, and just draw you in. I first noticed that with this image too.
So, it could be said that it is the image that set me on my current course.
Ok, so who are you? (the short version, please)
JS: I am a final-year medical student that found photography to be a form of meditation and relief from everyday sources of stress. Since childhood I’ve had a scientific mind, always thirsty for reading and knowledge, finally choosing a career in natural science.
However, it seems there was something missing. I understood in time that you can’t just have reason in your life, that something has to be done to feed the emotional part. For me, that was photography. Specifically, it was film photography.
When did you start shooting film and what drives you to keep shooting?
JS: In my high school years I got a DSLR and started taking pictures more seriously.
Still, the true feeling of doing photography came only when two years ago, I decided to get a roll of film out of curiosity. Something in my approach changed and I started paying attention to my surroundings, looking for an image everywhere.
I started reading a lot of books on photography, both on technique and the art of photography. The reason for this process of growing-up (photographically) may seem trivial – I was constantly thinking about the cost of film, how every shot is limited and costs money.
Later, it occurred to me that it’s all about the method of previsualizing the image, and not concerning myself with looking at the LCD screen. Ever since then, digital doesn’t quite cut it for me anymore – It’s too detached, too perfect. I think that if film suddenly disappeared, I would stop making images.
Who or what influenced your photography when you first started out and who continues to influence you today?
JS: My biggest influence when starting was Ryan Muirhead. His work taught me the importance of sharing your emotions through your work. Also, his approach to using film seems to correlate to mine in some degree.
Later, while learning, I started absorbing all the masters, ranging from Ansel Adams’ legendary books through Susan Sontag and John Berger’s philosophical books on photography.
As I said, I have a scientific mind and my learning process tends to be very intense.
Only later when I completely understood the technicalities have I started breaking apart from them, understanding that art isn’t exact. I focused on the artistic influences I could learn from. These included Michael Kenna, Dan Winters, Todd Hido, etc.
Are you a mixed medium photographer? What drives your choice to use film or digital from one day to the next?
JS: In the beginning I carried both film and the DSLR. I did get a Sekonic very early on, but my sense of previsualizing the image was very underdeveloped and I was too unsure to shoot anything without first checking.
Nowadays, I use the digital camera only to check the light during studio work.
However, I am still in the process of building a darkroom, so although I process all my film myself, I still mainly scan the negatives on a flatbed, edit in Lightroom emulating darkroom dodge & burn, and print digitally in a local lab.
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?
JS: I would say three things pose a challenge currently:
Firstly, I would like to finish setting up my darkroom, and start regularly making prints with my hands. I feel that I am lacking a key ingredient in those prints truly being mine in every sense.
Secondly, I would like to explore the studio more. Although I am mainly a landscape photographer, I find the time spent constructing a classic studio portrait of a close friend to be an especially rewarding and beautiful experience.
Thirdly, large format has been inaccessible to me so far due to the cost of everything – the cameras, the film, and the processing. I would love to try it out with one of the cheaper cameras.
Do you have a subject matter or style you always find yourself being drawn to? Why?
JS: I am mainly a landscape photographer. I have noticed with time to be most drawn to subjects such as intimate shots of forests, preferably with fog or a dreary mood. I have also understood that a really good, emotional landscape should ideally be made in an everyday place that you yourself consider special. I have traveled to many places in the world, and none have engaged me photographically as much as Gorski Kotar, the mountainous region of my home country, Croatia.
As for style, it’s definitely the minimal composition on a 6×6 negative.
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?
JS: I would take the Leica M6. 35mm is an incredible format when you don’t know what to expect, and the Leica is quiet, versatile, light and quick to operate. I would put on the 50mm Summicron, as I am a big fan of the normal lens.
As for film, it would be ILFORD HP5 PLUS, the black and white film I use almost exclusively (almost) when shooting 35mm, also versatile, pushable and beautifully toned. I tend to rarely shoot color, but this time I would take Kodak Portra 400 to be ready for anything.
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?
JS: I would take a Hasselblad 500 C/M with an 80mm f/2.8 Planar, a set of Lee filters and the offered unlimited supply of ILFORD FP4 PLUS to Gorski Kotar, to use my life to finish the unending set of landscapes on mountains, forests and lakes. It is my spiritual home, and there isn’t a place on Earth I would rather photograph.
You can never use film again. What’s your last roll of film, where and how will you expose it and why?
JS: Every time I read this question in an interview, I imagine it could someday become a reality.
I think it would go like this: I would go to a lake, or a forest in a winter morning when there’s snow and fog. I really don’t know if I would ever make an image after that.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about film photography today and how would you set it straight?
JS: I believe there are two serious misconceptions. The biggest would be that many people believe film to be passé, and that the users today consist only of hipsters and high-end artists.
The other would be that shooting film is oh-so-difficult.
After trying for some time, both are revealed to be completely untrue.
I honestly believe that sites such as EMULSIVE are doing a good job of spreading film and setting the misconceptions straight. It is my opinion that every photographer enjoying photography for art or hobby should at least try film as a method which trains the artist’s eye, mind, and, most importantly, soul.
In your opinion, what’s the future of film photography?
JS: It is hard to answer this. I think I understand enough about economy to say that a product can’t thrive solely on love.
However, I also think that there are enough of us today for maintaining a niche population of users.
I believe that for a long time, black and white, at least, will be very safe from disappearing. I have to wonder about the prices, though
~ Josip Šore
I’ll be back again next Wednesday with a fresh interview but in the meantime (and as ever), keep shooting, folks!
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