Camera And Us
Once I started shooting film, I decided to start creating some photography projects. My first photographic project was called: 'Camera and Us.' This project documented people on the street and which camera they used. I chose to use a film camera to capture all kinds of people with their cameras on the street. Once I approached them, I told them my photographic intentions. We would have a simple chat to make them feel comfortable and more importantly, for them to consent to be photographed.
I use film for all of my work
After I finished shooting them, I promised that I would send them the photographs that I took of them and then I share them on my Instagram. I use film for all of my work. When working with black and white film, I tend to use ILFORD films like FP4+, HP5+, Delta or Kentmere series. So far, more than 500 groups of people have been photographed for this project. It will go on and on, documenting the cameras and people of this era.
Other projects：BW.CSE and P.subculture
When the project 'Camera with us' reached around 350 people, I started to develop new projects. I wanted to start shooting street portraits and wanted to try and find some subcultural people near where I live. These two projects mainly documented the state of people and their outfit. In most cases, I preferred to stick with black and white film. I found that ILFORD HP5+, FP4+ and the Delta series were excellent for portraiture, especially when pushed one stop to 800 ISO.
How I Shoot
Most of the time, I shoot with my medium format camera. In my collection, I have a Pentax 67 and a Rolleiflex 2.8F. Occasionally I get out my 35mm camera, especially when I am travelling. I prefer to photograph with natural light when I can, but occasionally I turn to direct flash for my more creative work.
I develop all my film myself. The developers I use the most are Rodinal and ILFORD DD-X. Once I have developed the film, I use my high-resolution digital camera and macro lens to take digital photographs of the negative and then convert into a positive image. Personally I think the outcome is pretty good from this technique.
How I Print In The Darkroom
This year, I started to learn how to print in the darkroom. I transformed my kitchen into a temporary darkroom. I use a Fujimoto G70 enlarger for optical enlargement, which can support up to 6X7 films. This process is necessary to consider how to output your photos. Enlarging the film on the paper is a completely different experience from viewing on the screen. This also expresses my insistence on traditional photography techniques. I love to print on 8x10 paper. The paper I mostly use are Kentmere 8X10 RC and Rollei vintage 111 FB.
Images ©Simon Zhao
About The Author
Simon is a street photographer in China, Shanghai who specialises in portraiture. (born 1984). Simon began studying photography in 2020. At that time, his main interest was capturing street photography and his love for digital. However, in 2021 Simon started to shoot with film and fell in love with the process deeply. Soon after, he turned to street photography and began to focus on portraiture, hoping to learn and research traditional photography techniques in depth, and record more beautiful moments and people.