Uma Patel has been a long time Film Club Member and Student Ambassador. Her photos are vibrant and are a great mix of street and natural landscapes. This week we decided to interview her to get to know her better and share her photos with the rest of the community. Scroll down to read more!
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
UP: I grew up seeing both my Dad and grandfather with a camera in their hand. I like to say I am a third-generation amateur photographer. None of them ever photographed for a living or for pay but it was and is such a huge part of their identity even though their careers were far from the arts. At weddings and family trips, I would often stand next to my Dad holding his lens or camera bag - closely observing what it is that caught his eye. Naturally, as a teenager, I began to develop my own eye for photography and would take and edit photos on my iPhone.
It wasn't until the end of 2018 that I decided to use my Instagram account to start sharing all the photos I loved that were hidden away on my phone. Then about two years ago, I found my Dad’s old Fuji DL-145 film camera and decided to give it a try. I enjoyed how intentional and present film photography made me. The limited number of shots prevented me from taking filler photos and forced me to think about what I wanted to capture and why.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?
UP: Most of my past film photos were taken on the Fuji DL-145 35 mm with Fujifilm Fujicolor 200 or 400 Color Negative Film. However recently, as of January I switched to the Leica C1 35 mm point-and-shoot and use the same film.
PL: Your photos have a really nice vibrant color to them. What are some qualities that you like about color film?
UP: I love how much interest color can bring to a photo. Little details like someone's jacket, the paint on a wall, or the sky hold a lot of details in themselves. For example, whenever I travel, my photos from that trip tend to fall within a similar color scheme simply due to the culture, geography, weather, etc. and that’s always a fun detail to notice.
PL: Some of your photos seem to capture a variety of places you have traveled to. What does it mean for you to capture these places/moments on film?
UP: Photos are by far my favorite souvenir whenever I travel. I love looking back on them and displaying some of my favorites around my space as a reminder of those trips. Travel brings me a lot of clarity on who I am and what I enjoy, which can easily get lost in the day-to-day routines. I also love to solo travel and so taking photos acts as a companion in that I can zone out and observe my surroundings with my camera in hand. Capturing these moments on film also carries a permanence to them because I have physical images that I can store or gift to friends and family.
PL: There are a variety of subjects within this collection such as natural landscapes and street scenes. When out photographing, what are some objects or elements within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?
UP: I really love documentary style photography, taking photos of people and things as they are. I find that whenever I set scenes or go out with the intention to photograph, I am usually not as happy with the quality versus when I let something catch my eye. For that reason, I like to make sure I have a camera on me at all times just in case of those moments. I find that my photos tend to take on this fly on the wall lens, where I try to catch moments that seem quite ordinary. For example, the photo of the saxophone player in Rittenhouse. I love how I was able to capture the second person taking a photo right when the sun seemed to create this spotlight on the musician. It’s seemingly everyday life but from a certain angle, stepping away, it can be quite ethereal.
PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?
UP: I’ve always been drawn toward the waterfall photo from Iceland. I didn’t think much of it when I took it and maybe that’s why I am always pleasantly surprised when I look at it. In the photo you can see my Dad taking a photo, my brother walking toward the camera and two other tourists in between them. I find the combination of the clouds and mist from the waterfall created this dream-like quality to it. It looks exactly how it felt to be there: remote, cool, and all-encompassing. It almost resembles a still from a movie, maybe an intermission shot or B-roll of some indie film. The photos that seem to carry stories, making you feel like something was just said or is about to be said are the ones I love the most.
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