I came to analog photography late. I enjoy being able to feel the film and create with my hands, and the suspense of not knowing how the final shots look until you develop the film. Shooting film changes the style of how I work. I take less pictures and think more. It is more immersive, I have more time to feel their characters, their experiences.
I shoot all my projects in medium format film. I do use digital, but only for commercial photography or for working on reports.
Materials age well if kept correctly, you can find 20-30 year old film or paper and take pictures on it. Yes, there is no guarantee that the old material will be good, but you can try pinhole or photogram. And as a result you will get a completely unpredictable result. It's like alchemy. This is sometimes not controlled, and not repeatable!
In Belarus, a unique country in Europe, is a preserved ancient tradition of traditional healing where the sick are healed with help of water and words (in a whisper, prayer, spell). The secrets of this ancient tradition are protected and closed to others. The sacred knowledge is safeguarded and handed down over many generations from grandmother to granddaughter, from grandfather to grandson. Carefully selected descendants who can be trusted with the gift to heal people and animals, protect the economy from the troubles and bad weather, diseases sent by magicians and witches ...
Today these people are becoming less and less. Most of them are gone, so no one and not passing "the science and the gift to treat of the healing word", native word.
In my project the visual language and how to shoot it dictated the project itself, no matter how strange it sounded. Silver, water, light and darkness ... sounds like magic.
Initially, on the first expedition, I took several colored films, my Mamiya RB worked regularly all the time, but when I gave them to the photolab - they were all without images, just spoiled. So I decided to try the b&w and develop myself and luckily it turned out all right.
I use HP5+ film (iso 400). It suits me best for taking pictures in different conditions. Working with one iso, you can get used to the light and do not use a flashmeter. This gives a certain comfort in work. In addition, it is difficult to predict where and in what conditions I will have to take pictures, because sometimes to make a portrait I have to go about 500-800 km a day. Therefore, I'm not afraid to push the film and get the image that I need.
Technical parameters are not interesting to me. It is important for me what I shoot and for what, what I want to tell. Film is a very good tool for telling your stories.
Siarhiej Leskiec born 1984 – ethnographer, freelance photographer, traveller, born in Maladzieczna (Belarus). He works in documentary photography, photojournalism. In 2009 he graduated from Department of History at the Maxim Tank Belarusian State Pedagogical University and Department of Contemporary History at the Belarusian Collegium. His photography focusses on everyday life, folk traditions and rituals of the Belarusian village. He spent four years documenting the ancient healing practices of Eastern Europe among women who claim to have God’s gift of healing the sick and expelling evil. He lives in Maladzieczna (Belarus).
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