Member Moment: Emily Sztenderowicz

Film Club
Emily Sztenderowicz is a Film Club Member whose Instagram caught our attention for its vibrancy. This week we decided to interview her to get to know her more and share a group of her photos with the community. Scroll down to see it all. 

Photograph of coastal town

Photograph of neon sign in a restaurant

Photograph of sign on a blue fence

PL: What got you interested in film photography?

ES: My passion for photography has been a constant in my life. It all began with my earliest memories of going through boxes filled with my parents' film photos, where I could see my family, friends, and myself during my younger years. However, it wasn't until I received my first digital camera as a gift that I truly delved into the world of photography.

In high school, my photography hobby saw a slight decline, although I still couldn't resist snapping shots on my phone and occasionally with my Nikon CoolPix. It was during a photography class in high school that my interest started up again. From that moment on, I was hooked. I expanded my horizons by experimenting with Fuji disposable cameras, finding joy in capturing my unique perspective in a single frozen moment of time.

Recently, I've ventured into the world of film photography by purchasing a few second hand film cameras. I've come to adore the limited number of shots they offer and the unpredictability of the results, which remain hidden until the film is developed. As someone who tends to be a perfectionist, it's a nice change to simply peer through the viewfinder and hope for the best, rather than obsess over getting the "perfect shot" with my digital camera.

Despite primarily using digital equipment and being relatively new to film photography, I've discovered a newfound love for the art of film.

Photograph of porch off of house

Photograph of hot air balloons deflating

Photograph of hot air balloon

PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?

ES: For anything digital, I use a Nikon D3400. When it comes to taking photos on film, my go-to camera is the Vivitar 550 PZ Series 1. Its compact size makes it incredibly convenient to carry around, and I especially appreciate its capacity for a slight zoom. In addition to the Vivitar, I occasionally use a Minolta Maxxum 4, along with an assortment of other secondhand cameras in my collection.

For colored film, I typically use Cinestill 400 or Fuji 400. When I shoot in black and white, I use either AristaEDU or Ilford 400. Recently, I've been trying to expand into different film types.

Photograph of lifeguard stand on a beach

Photograph of coastal town

Photograph of colorful picnic tables at a campsite

PL: There are a mix of black and white and color photos within this collection. What are some qualities that you like about both black and white and color film? 

ES: Half of the time, I enjoy capturing vibrant scenes and colors when using color film. I love the slight variation in color captured on film compared to the actual scene. The other half of the time, when working with black and white, it's fascinating to me how a colorful scene can take on an entirely different character in monochrome. Converting a moment from color to black and white provides a fresh perspective and sharpens the focus on certain elements.

Photograph of conservatory at Longwood Gardens

Photograph of green house

Photograph of water lily

PL: Some of your images seem to capture places you have traveled to. What does it mean for you to capture these places/moments on film?

ES: To be able to capture places I’ve traveled to on film means a lot to me. It’s really meaningful to have the opportunity to travel and to capture some special moments, from my perspective, in a quick snap. Also, seeing the beauty of new places, being able to capture them in an instant and having the ability to keep them forever is truly magical.

Photograph of lily pads and small house on pond

Photograph of cat with bubbles

Photograph of cat looking at bubbles

PL: When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?

ES: One of my favorite quotes regarding my photography is actually the last line from The Office series finale. “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” From regular day-to-day life, to new experiences, the world is full of beauty. Something that may look ordinary to one person, may look absolutely stunning to another. During the moment of taking a photo, I enjoy being able to not only take in that frame, but everything else around it. 

Photograph of cats lying on the ground

Photograph of temple on a hill

Photograph of person mediating on a beach

PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?

ES: This is a tough question. I would say that my favorite photo is the black and white photo of the person meditating on a beach in California. At that particular moment, I was surrounded by the activity of a sunset on a busy beach. However, the sight of someone meditating amidst all the commotion was captivating to me, highlighting how even in the midst of chaos, one can find a moment of serenity. The black and white photo of the people around the lifeguard stand was taken seconds after the shot mentioned, which really depicts how one can find a moment of peace during a bunch of activity.

Photograph of two people at a party

Photograph of two people holding food and smiling


Every day, Club Members take exceptional pictures. If you are not a Film Club Member yet what are you waiting for? Join today to support the photo community in Philly and to start saving money on film processing
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