Pia Posadas is a Film Club Member whose photographs are engaging and vibrant and have been featured in our gallery. This week we decided to interview her to get to know her and share a group of her photos with the community. Scroll down to see it all!
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
PP: I first got interested in photography in general. A good friend and I took a three-day summer class on digital photography when I was in high school; I enjoyed it and learned a lot, but I was intimidated by the cost of a DSLR camera (which at the time was what I thought was a must-have for “serious” photographers) and all the different settings that I felt like you had to master to take a "good" picture.
Fast forward to several years later, one of the things I bought myself with my first paycheck was an Instax polaroid camera (which I would argue is a kind of film camera too!). I really loved the way that the photos looked - that dreamy and nostalgic aesthetic film is known for - so eventually I got curious enough to buy my first film camera. Compared to other hobbies, I’d say the barrier to entry to film photography in terms of skill or talent is pretty low (i.e., all beginners are welcome)!
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?
PP: My first film camera and the one I have used the most is a Ricoh RZ-750. I didn't choose it for any particular reason - I got it from an Instagram shop (@film4ever, based in my home country the Philippines) where you had to be the first to call dibs on a second hand camera via DM in order to buy it. It took a couple of tries, but I eventually got one! I like the 90s look of it and how its (blindingly) bright automatic flash ensures clear photos even at night or in the dark.
Some other cameras I have include a Holga 135 (which I should really use more) and a Kodak Ektar H35 (much lighter than my Ricoh and gives me great value for money by doubling my film exposures!); I also use disposable cameras from time to time. In terms of film, I'm still learning about the nuances of different kinds of film - I've used Fujifilm C200 and Kodak ColorPlus 200 quite a bit and experimented with the Kodak Gold, Kodak Portra 160 and Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400.
PL: There are a range of subjects within this collection of photos. When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?
PP: I find that I take a lot of photos of patterns - the symmetrical lines of a building, the gentle curves in leaves or plants, a set of identical (or nearly identical) objects. I’m also drawn to contrasts, like something very urban with something in nature or something very large next to something much smaller in size or stature. I’m not exactly sure why I like these things, I just think they make for interesting photos.
I also enjoy taking photos of people, both of people I know and of strangers. When it comes to friends and family, I love capturing candid moments, when people are joking around or feeling carefree. I’m definitely a sentimental person, so I like looking back on these photos every once in a while. When it comes to strangers, I enjoy people-watching when I travel - I take photos of people for whom I make up a story in my mind or are wearing or doing something out of the ordinary.
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?
PP: I love coming home from a trip and having a roll of film developed - seeing the photos is a great way to relive the trip and the different memories associated with it. I try to remind myself of this feeling when I’m out on a trip, because taking photos with a film camera does require some more effort or intentionality (i.e., lugging it around and taking photos with it instead of relying entirely on my phone).
PL: Your photos have a strong composition. When photographing, what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
PP: If I have the luxury of time, I’ll think about what the subject of my photo is and what the best way to present it is (in the center? Filling the frame? “Rule-of-thirds”-ing it?). Sometimes what I point my camera at looks different through the viewfinder versus what I see with my eyes, so I’ll adjust accordingly (maybe take a few steps back or forth, bend down, etc). If I’m using a camera that doesn’t have an automatic flash, I’ll also consider if there’s sufficient lighting or how likely it is that the photo will turn out blurry or dark (which has happened a lot of times).
If I don’t have the luxury of time (which is most of the time), I’ll just take a photo and see if I like it or not when I get the roll developed. One of the things I love about film is getting your developed photos back and seeing photos that are unexpected or surprisingly better than you thought they would be. That happens in maybe one out of ten or twenty photos but I don’t really mind, it’s all part of the process!
PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?
PP: My favorite photo in this set is the one of my dad smiling and eating a hotdog in front of a Sabrett stand in New York. I don’t think it’s necessarily the most visually interesting or has the best composition, but it means the most to me.
It reminds me of how, when I was a kid, my dad would tell me stories about his trips abroad and how he loved eating Sabrett hotdogs in New York. I remember seeing a Sabrett sign on the way home from school one day and excitedly pointing it out to him. (I don’t know if it was actually a store or maybe just an office of some kind; in any case, it wasn’t open for very long.)
This photo was also taken during a post-COVID family trip/reunion, after more than two years of quarantine/lockdown. When I look at it, I am reminded of how lucky we are to be able to travel together, which is something I definitely took for granted in the pre-COVID years.
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