Member Moment: Steve Slatky

Film Club

Steve Slatky is an active member of the community and recently won our rainbow themed photo contest on Instagram. This week, we decided to get to know him a bit better and to see what types of photo projects he has been working on. Read on to see three unique collections of photos that Steve has been creating and our interview with him about them. 

 

Best Of series

Best Of series

PL: What got you interested in film photography? 
SS: So many things. I always have a fascination with breaking every concept down to its barebones. I want to know how stuff works. And lock back on the history and see how we got to the point of where we are today. And with cameras I am interested in everything from the Camera obscura* to the new arri cinema cameras. 

The price of gear. I have always found the price of new lens and cameras a hard thing to commit to. For over 10 years I basically shot with only a Canon 60D and the classic nifty 50, the canon 50mm 1.8 II. And at the cost of what that was all those years ago I could get 1 film camera and a good portion of the entire lens range for that mount. Not to mention the increased field of view and depth the 35mm size gives you compared to the aspc sized sensor in the 60D. There is so much more creative freedom given when you add it all up. Just gotta ignore the continuous and every increasing price of film and it’s a great value. 

*  A hole in the wall to a darkened room to assist painters outline a scene.

Best Of series

Best Of series

PL: What type of camera do you shoot with, and what kind of film do you usually use?
SS: Surprisingly hard question to answer. For film I will shoot with whatever new film I can find. I love experimenting with everything. Everything with film gear has its own little flaws or personality to them, it would be a shame to stick with one. 

Color film, the choices are more limited, Kodak Ektar is wonderful from the rich saturation you get from it. The Kodak Portra line is of course great as well. But with prices I have been shooting whatever is the cheapest option I can get my hands on. I do with one day we could get new color film. There are only 2 manufacturers of color currently in production. Fuji keeps killing their lines and Kodak continues to price people out of the hobby.  

Black and white film has so many exciting options Kodak Tri-x is a go to for me it’s able to provide amazing contrast while preserving details. It’s also the film most used by photojournalists, so it can really give that classic feel as we are so used to seeing it from history books. The Ilford products are great as well, HP5 is a great all around film for anything and I just picked up a 100ft bulk roll of it. 

For cameras there are two that I use the most. The canon Canonet ql17 giii is a rangefinder with a 35mm lens on it. I love it for being so small, I can slip it in a small bag and go. It’s fully mechanical and always ready to go. It’s always a joy to use, 

The Canon F1 is my other goto. It’s a workhorse. With it being the pro model in the 60s-90s it's extremely solid and trustworthy. The FD mount gives a wide range of lenses and the quality of even the basic ones are amazing and have their own unique personality. 

The camera that might have my heart the most is my medium format Salyut C. A soviet union made camera that was manufactured in Kyiv, Ukraine at the Arsenal factory. The same place Hasselblad made their famous Hasselblad 1000f was manufactured. The soviets went on to copy the design and make their own. They even  kept in the flaw of a curtain shutter, which could shake the camera at slower speeds. It has so many flaws but there is so much fun to use, the odd shape makes it eye-catching as well.

Happy Little Mistakes series

Happy Little Mistakes series

PL: Your “Happy Little Mistakes” collection of photos feature imperfections in images such as light leaks. What makes you want to embrace the mistakes? 
SS: To break the idea of perfectionism in myself. In my life I have attempted to do everything as perfectly as I could as to never be a burden on the people around me. Living this way is insufferable. Accepting the issues that come along the way and making the best out of what you have is freeing. On film I can’t just look down at the screen and see how it came out. I need to live with my decisions at that time. That can include opening the back of a camera while forgetting there is a roll in there. These mistakes will ruin many photos. But every so often it can enhance it and give it more personality. Those are moments to celebrate. 

Happy Little Mistakes series

Best Of series

PL: Alternatively, you have a few photos that you feel are more “perfect” in a collection called “Best Of.” Out of these photos, which one is your favorite and why? 
SS: There is almost always something I can find that I would want to change or improve in a photo. That being said I am drawn to my recent photo of the septa train on the tracks behind a wall. The way I was able to capture the slight motion of the train gives it dimensions. Along with the color stripes being framed well on the train. 

That being said I think I could have taken it a stop higher and the exposure would be better. The lamp post in the bottom right bothers me and I wish it wasn’t there. It adds another layer of focus I don’t want. 


Happy Little Mistakes series

Frames series

PL: Your interest in capturing a frame within a frame is a specific thing to notice and capture in the world. What inspires you about this style of photography? 
SS: The random happenstance to have this in this chaotic world some object fill into a randomly placed frame is beautiful. There are so many moving parts and in this moment of time these 2 things line up in such a way to form an aesthetically pleasing view. I just love it. 

Frames series

PL: Throughout all collections of photos you use a mix of black and white and color images. What are some qualities that you like about both color film and black and white film?
SS: The type of film really dictates what I will think about when I am shooting. When on color you look for the patterns in colors around you. Do they clash, does the pallet match the feel you are trying to go for? It will give an accurate representation of the scene as most see in color. 

Black and white you have to focus on different aspects. You can rely on the colors to entice people to care. The lines and composition of the photo matter more. Shadows become widely important and you can play around with them so much. I get excited to shoot black and white it forces me to take a different view of the world around me and appreciate it that much more.


Frame series

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