Daniel Barends is a long time customer and Film Club Member of PhotoLounge. He is always coming by to drop off film for processing and his dedication to the medium is inspiring. He regularly tags us in photos on Instagram but we wanted to know more about him and his relationship with photography. Read on for the full interview.
Q: What got you interested in film photography?
A: I guess my interest started from always seeing it on Instagram and wanting to try out film. So many photographers would take such incredible photos on film and each with unique results. My first real film camera was a Konica Autoreflex TC that my grandparents graciously gave to me in 2016. It featured automatic exposure (which helped tremendously to ease into film) and influenced me to really "slow down" when taking photos. 2020 is when I really became inspired to try it more. When the pandemic first started, it was a way to clear my head and reconfigure my creativity. As months went on, I would shoot film almost all the time. I always had a camera on me and I wanted to practice more to improve my skill while also having fun. I think it was also how distinctive it would look that really set it apart from digital. The colors and tones would look so real and jump out at me. Every time I would photograph with film my photos would look different, even slightly, than the last time I shot. I thought that was super cool to experience. Though I primarily use digital professionally, film is where my creativity really shows.
Q: You have experimented with many types of film and cameras. Do a few come to mind that you would say are your favorite?
A: Oh absolutely! I feel like I have some that I prefer or lean towards more than others, but overall, they are all great tools to work with and just add to the experience. For filmstocks, I use both black and white as well as color. Ilford HP5 is my go to for b&w and I usually dabble with Kodak Porta 400/800, Fujifilm Provia 100, and Cinestill 800T for color. All of them have great exposure latitude and are very sharp. I also try out a lot of expired film too (which is a ton of fun!) Plus, you can't go wrong with some polaroid film! Cameras run the same way with me but I normally use a Bronica SQ-A for medium format and either a Nikon F100 or Nikkormat FTn for 35mm. All have amazing lenses to choose from and are very versatile in performance.
Q: Is there a type of photography that you have not tried yet that you would like to explore?
A: Probably would be getting into portrait photography with film. I've always wanted to do more shoots with people, especially with b&w. It's so easy to take someone's picture with a phone but with film, now that really stands out. I have always wanted to do a shoot on slide film too. I can only imagine how incredible the detail and colors are (plus it's just awesome to look at a color positive).
Q: With the exception of one photo none of these images are of people. What do you prefer about taking photos of landscapes or objects?
A: I suppose it's because I don't really have much to worry about with either of them, they aren't going anywhere. I can take my time and photograph as I please and just take in the scene. Both do go hand-and-hand with me because they usually either connect to an emotion and/or I try to utilize what's in frame and put focus on something that's there to add to the scene.
Q: Some of these photos are taken at dusk or night time. What do you like about photographing at night? What is challenging about it?
A: There's something about night that just feels like another world to experience, almost dream-like. It's the solitude and quiet that I absolutely love about photographing at night. Most of the time, I shoot at 1am to 3am because I know no one will bother me and I feel like it's just me. I can see a different view of a house or street lamp or even a road that looks totally different during the day. Of course it also comes with a few challenges. The first is focusing because it is incredibly difficult trying to manual focus on something that has barely any light on it and that could be far away, especially when trying to add depth of field to a subject. The second and biggest challenge is exposure. Not only is metering hard enough in low light but you also have reciprocity failure to take into consideration and it always changes depending on which film you use. However, the challenge is what makes it so much fun!
Q: There is a sense of intimacy with all of your photos. When you are taking photos what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
A: Aside from thinking "oh man I hope I had my settings right!" it's usually "why am I taking this and is it authentic?" Shooting film is very special to me because how you shoot it is how it looks. If there's an effect I want to create to add to the image, I'm going to do it right then and there such as filters, under/overexposing, double exposing, etc. I enjoy creating something that is different and unique, but that people can also connect to, whether it is emotionally or if they just like viewing it. Film photography is very fun for me and I enjoy sharing it!
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