Andres Villalta is a Film Club Member who has regularly been tagging us in photos on Instagram. We were impressed by the images he has on his feed so we decided to interview him this week about his creative process and feature some images as well. Scroll down to read our interview and view a collection of his black and white images.
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
AV: I have a friend who was putting up some great film shots on Instagram. I’d been shooting on my Sony A7 and editing in Photoshop/Lightroom. But, I loved what I was seeing with my friend’s 35mm film shots. I asked him what his process was and he said that he had his film developed in a lab, and mostly just posted the scans without editing. I was floored with the colors, the appeal of the grain, and the way the highlights were rendered. I decided to give it a tentative go.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with, and what kind of film do you usually use?
AV: I shoot a combination of Nikon (F3), Pentax Spotmatic, and Hasselblad C/M500. I love TriX, Ilford HP5 and SFX200 for black and white. For color, it’s what I can afford (prices are nuts!); Lomography 400 and FujiColor 200 lately. But, if I had more money I’d go for Portra.
PL: All of the photos within this selection are black and white. What are some qualities that you like about black and white film?
AV: It’s been a process. Learning to see a composition as interesting based on its luminance and gradient contrast, rather than a scene in color is fascinating to me. That, and I find that desaturating digital images to make them B&W is not nearly as effective as shooting natively in B&W film. The mid-tones in film just feel so much more interesting.
PL: This collection of images has a variety of subjects such as natural and architectural scenes as well as still-lifes. How would you describe your style of photography? What do you look for when you are out photographing?
AV: Well, I suck at portraits. I shoot fully manual, and am somewhat baffled by autofocus. So, I’m slow. That delay in framing and finding focus ends up steering my composition more often than not. Therefore, action is tough. Still life, scenery and landscapes are my low hanging fruit. I also have no idea how to light a scene, so I follow what I think is already well lit by the ambient light. It’s that (the way light falls on a subject) that usually catches my attention.
PL: Out of all of these images, which one is your favorite and why?
AV: Maybe the one of my kids in the Wissahickon. But that may just be because they’re my kids. I see such great images online (Instagram, etc) by great photographers, that it's hard to not think of myself as just adding noise to the stock-photography catalog.
PL: You mentioned that this collection of images is a 2 year journey of taking pictures with black and white film. Do you have any future projects or subjects that you hope to explore and photograph? If so, what are they?
AV: I would like to try and get better at portraits and in-camera double exposures. Portraits are hard because I find the process to be a bit awkward, so It’s an emotional hang-up. Double exposures are just hard because a good one takes quite a bit of foresight and execution. I’m more of a reactionary photographer, so that level of planning is difficult for me.
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