Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lisa-Marie Kaspar - My Thoughts on Film Photography

Lisa-Marie Kaspar is a 21 year-old German film photographer, also a student of Communication Design. She started photographing in 2012 with a digital camera, but one year later has been shooting film, since then has never stopped with this passion.

Lisa-Marie joined with us in most of Shooting Film's projects and today coming back to share with us her thoughts on film photography.

Yes, I am one of those young adults who drools over grainy shots of hands and skin, who rifle trough boxes filled with old cameras looking for another dusty family member, and are persistently broke because of the vast amount of rolls of film that need to be developed. I am addicted to film photography and there is no chance of a cure.

However, it took quite a while until the addiction began, because I started with digital photography first. Maybe because of that I often find myself thinking about the question whether this all makes sense. Shooting on film, developing and then scanning - suddenly the analogue process switches to digital. We take the little frames exposed by light meeting photo - sensitive material into the digital world. So, what about taking digital photos from the very beginning? Wouldn't it be the same? Probably even easier, cheaper and faster?

Well, although it is paradoxical to stick to film and the whole chemical process in the first place only to then digitalize the photographs, the two things don't exclude each other. Speaking of the chemical process it is something that differs a great deal from the way you take photos with your DSRL. An empty roll is more like a white canvas waiting to be painted on. It is not only loading the film, shooting and that's it. it is choosing your tool to paint on the canvas. Choosing a specific brand, choosing the photosensitivity (ASA/ISO), choosing a specific type of film. Maybe you shoot with an expired roll of film, maybe you've accidentally forgotten a roll in your car parking in the searing summer heat. The list is endless. You can experiment with film so much more than with a sensor.

In my opinion, even if you took a photo of the same subject with a film and a digital camera you won't get identical results. There is that certain type of grain, these certain colours that occur because of the reaction between the layers and light. You can try to imitate these effects in Photoshop, but you will never get the exact results.

Of course you want to show and share your film photos just like other photographers. The only way to do this is to first scan the negatives. Now you have a digital version of them, but that doesn't make them the same as digital photographs. In most cases, you don't have to edit them or you don't want to edit them. By choosing a certain type of film you have already made the decision of the colouring and if you wished for a different one you could have taken another film roll. Of course you can edit them, as well, but choosing the colouring in the first place makes it a lot easier. You don't have raw photos that need the editing afterwards. You already made the photo as it is supposed to be.

Leaving the technical aspects behind, I always think of film photography as some kinds of magic. You take the photo, but it takes a while until you can see the result. It often happens to me that it takes weeks until a roll is exposed, so that I already forgot what I took photos of in the very beginning. The excitement that comes along with when you pick up the developed negatives and get to take the first glimpse of the photographs is of a special kind. It is mixed with a certain fear that maybe there is nothing on the film, because you chose the wrong settings. It may sound like a drawback, but this mix of feelings (which is even stronger when you develop the films yourself) is bittersweet. Most of the time it is without any reason and your photos are perfectly fine. The one time your fear comes true is sad, of course, but it helps you learn from it and grow.

Many people say analogue photography is going to die. I don't agree. I would rather say that analogue photography won't be replaced with digital photography as these two are different from each other. That is something that might sound strange at first glance, but if you think about it, you will understand.

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