Sunday, October 5, 2014

Phil Stefans - 5 things I love about Film

Phil Stefans is an Australian photographer, based-in Newcastle. He shoots mostly with film, using a variety of cameras including a Rolleiflex 2.8D, a Hasselblad 500C and a Busch Pressman 4x5 camera. "I mainly shoot portrait, as they are the images that I find myself drawn to in other photographers work. I process most of my B&W negatives in caffenol, the coffee based developer, due to it's great tones, low cost and low environmental impact." He says.

Today Phil would like to share with us 5 main reasons that make him still love shooting film.

1. It saved me. I’m a reformed digital wedding photographer. I was burnt out and had almost lost my love of photography due to the endless days spent sorting and retouching thousands of photos every week and having to deal with demanding bridezillas. One day I was walking thru an antique shop and I picked up a Kodak Brownie. I loved the feel of the camera in my hand and I had to buy it. After getting my first roll of film back from the lab, the realization of everything I’d given away by “going digital” 7 years earlier hit me. I've since quit weddings and I shoot 95% film again now. My passion for photography is back with a vengeance and I feel far more creative now because of it.

2. I love that I stay in the moment. The last time I took a digital camera on holidays 3 years ago I realized that I spent half of my time away looking at the LCD screen or the laptop or uploading to Facebook. Ever since then I now only take film, and it’s far more liberating. On shoots it allows me to “stay in the moment” with my model, and I focus more on creating the shot I want than looking at the shot I just took.

3. I love the process. From choosing an old camera to shoot, selecting a film, loading the camera, shooting in a more considered fashion and then developing the film, the process is far more enjoyable. Importing photos off a memory card will never ever compare to having the smell of fixer in the air as you lift the negatives out of the tank and hold them to the light for the first time to see what you've got. I still get a buzz from it.

4. I love the cameras. The variety and style of cameras seem endless, from view cameras to SLRs to TLRs to rangefinders to panoramics. Every camera is unique and it’s fun to buy and use new cameras. I love cameras that once cost hundreds or thousands can now be picked up quite cheaply at garage sales or off the net. The cameras that I tend to buy are ones that have been built to last for decades. They’re made of metal and leather and have a reassuring weight to them, as opposed to the plastic cameras on the market today that seem designed to last until the warranty expires. I challenge anyone to pick up a Rolleiflex for the first time and look thru the ground glass without smiling.

5. I love the film community. It’s probably a little ironic that the internet and digital photo sharing has been one of the main catalysts behind the resurgence of film photographers. I've yet to come across a film shooter who hasn't been keen to share ideas and knowledge freely, and I've found very few haters or trolls in the community. I developed a lot of my film in the coffee based developer caffenol, and without a strong online community I’d never have learnt how to do it or valued it as a brilliant, environmentally friendly developer.

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