Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scott Levine - 5 things I love about Film

Scott Levine is an American photographer, based-in New York. He started photographing when he was a kid and since then he has shot mostly on film. He often uses a Minolta X-700 (with a 50mm f/1.4), an Olympus XA2, and a Yashica-Mat 124 as his favourite cameras.

Scott who was featured on our website once about half a year ago would like to share main reasons that make him always love shooting film.

1. Most important is the way it looks. I love the grain, the way the shades and colours, black and white work together to create an image. They blend smoothly, not abruptly, and carry with them an experience that led to that final image. It's not the interaction between light and a computer. It's light working with the chemistry of the film to make something new. I also love the fact that if you don't like the way your photos look, all you have to do is try a different film.

2. The entire photography process from the time I put the roll of film into the camera until the time I hold a print is a work of love. It's incredibly sensory and visceral. The way the film feels in your hands, the act of loading it into the camera, the photography itself, the rhythm of developing. When you have a thing, not just a file, but a thing that you made using tools, that you're involved with from start to finish, even if you have a lab do your developing and printing. There's simply nothing like that moment when you pull a roll of negatives from the tank, or a print from the tray and you can see the whole line of work that you did behind it. Also, because you only have a limited number of frames to work with, it's offer a matter of it not being what you shoot, but what you don't. I've had some long walks through amazing places where I've come very close but didn't take a single photo.

3. The cameras. I have a small collection of about 50 or 60 cameras, of all different ages, styles, and formats, and nearly all of them mean something to me. They feel sturdy in my hands, and take patience and time to learn to use correctly. You can't argue with the cost, either. I got a pro-quality Bronica SQ-A 6x6 SLR with three lenses for about $500 US a couple of years ago, and I think my entire collection cost me less than the cost of a new DSLR.

4. The connection to the past, and the connection to the future. A couple of years ago my father-in-law gave me an old Kodak from the early 1900s. It uses 122 film, and took some work, but I was able get some perfectly good photos with it, over a hundred years after it was made. When I look at it, I wonder where that camera has been, and what it's seen. Whose lives have been photographed with it? Also, my uncle gave me an old negative that he had from when he was in the army, a photo he shot but never printed of a young Elvis Presley. I was able to hand him a print of that all those years later. Years from now, those cameras will still work, and negatives will still be negatives. They'll still be printable.

5. The passion. I don't think there's a photographer using film today who doesn't do it out of love. There are other options, so why would you put the effort in -- and there's no question there is some extra work needed -- if you didn't love to? That connection to the work, not just pressing a button, shows through right away.

6. (A bonus) The smell of fixer on my hands. I'm not fortunate to have a job I love, but after a night spent working on my photography, that smell of fixer on my hands is a way to remind myself of everything that I put into each photo I take, and the path I went down to get there.

See more of his work at:

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