Thomas Nassiff is a Film Club Member whose work will be featured in this year’s Best of the Year show. He has tagged us in some of his photos on Instagram which also caught our attention and inspired us to reach out. Scroll down to read our interview with him and to see some of his favorite photos.
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
TN: A friend of mine, Matt, started shooting film in 2017 and I loved how different those photos felt compared to everything that everyone was taking on their iPhones. The great thing about it is that a good film photo always looks good, even as you go back through the years and see the improvements in the iPhone cameras! I bought an Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot on eBay and only used that up through 2020, mostly bringing it out and about to take candids of friends. I fell off the hobby for a while and picked it up again this year, and I’ve easily shot more film in 2023 than any year previously. Trying to bring a camera with me whenever I leave the house now!
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?
TN: That Olympus broke this year (RIP), and I’ve replaced it with two different point-and-shoots – a Leica Mini II and a Nikon 35ti. The Nikon is proving a little tricky to learn, so for the time being I’m usually tossing the Leica in my bag whenever I leave the house. A lot of photos in this collection were taken with my Nikon N80, which I’ll bring around whenever I’m willing to carry the larger body. And I also picked up a Minolta SRT101 from a street sale in Fishtown so I can start learning about fully manual photography as well! I am mostly shooting Portra 400 and Portra 800 for color and Kodak TriX400 and Kodak T-Max P3200 for black-and-white right now.
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?
TN: I try to have a color roll and a black-and-white roll going at the same time in separate cameras … my brain usually wants to shoot something in color at the moment, but a lot of my favorite photos (especially candids) seem to wind up being black-and-white. A really great black-and-white shot of someone feels like the most timeless thing you can capture, to me. Several of my favorite photos of this year are color shots of landscapes, though! You gotta have both!
PL: Some of these photos capture people. What do you enjoy about photographing people? What is challenging about it?
TN: Easily my favorite thing about film photography is bringing a camera to some group event or on a trip and being able to send everyone photos of themselves a week or two afterward. Everyone gets to relive that time together and hopefully they get a great picture of themselves in the process. I usually don’t ask folks to pose (although I’m interested in trying out more portraits soon), and instead prefer to try to take candids, which can result in photos that aren’t particularly great, so that’s probably the main challenge. I think taking photos and sharing them in real time with your phone is great, but I love being the person in my group who provides these photos later on :)
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?
TN: My goal is to just document whatever I’m seeing that day. I will not pretend like I have some great eye for what’s around me and I only choose to take photos sparingly … if I’m taking photos, I usually want to shoot a good amount! I appreciate the Nikon N80 for making me think about the composure of a shot a bit more – with the point and shoot it’s just so easy to … point and shoot! I think learning with the Nikon has made me more thoughtful about my photography and would really recommend an SLR to folks who are having a lot of fun with a point-and-shoot.
PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?
TN: The toughest question! I love the landscapes, but my favorites are always candids – that toddler (my friends’ kid) being super bummed that he is being asked to leave the playground, and my friends Sami and Dallas at the beach are probably the two that make me happiest looking at them! Sometimes a light leak can be your friend.