Interview 23 is with Michael Weitzman. A film photographer, darkroom teacher and alternate and experimental process enthusiast. Michael was nominated back in June by Brett Hillyard.
SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE IMAGE / PRINT SHOT ON ILFORD FILM AND TELL US WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU?
Northern Line. This photograph shouldn’t have happened, but I wanted to shoot in extreme conditions. It was 5 or 10 below zero with 15 - 20 MPH wind oﬀ the Missouri River in Great Falls Montana dead of winter. I came up to this lone locomotive creeping by. I’ve always liked trains, especially diesel locomotives. Though this photograph seems crude and simple, it was so by design. Using a plastic Debonair toy camera with HP5 ﬁlm, this is a testament to its performance. I recall wearing a silk pair of gloves and then another pair of wool ones over that with a balaclava and wool sock hat on my head.
After processing, I embellished this photo in the darkroom with Lith chemistry and Gold toning. The haunted face of the engineer, the harsh weather, and the sound of Locomotive 1615 diesel drumming are indelibly etched into my memory.
JUST IN CASE ANYONE DOESN’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU DO CAN YOU GIVE US THE OVERVIEW?
My name is Michael Weitzman and I am passionate about making photographs with analog cameras and ﬁlm. I am fortunate to have homes in both Orange County CA and Bozeman Montana splitting time in each. I have darkrooms in both locations and when in California, I volunteer at Irvine Fine Art Center in their Analog Photo department and teach community workshops there as well. It is here that I have made so many friends, forged relationships, and developed and printed countless boxes of prints and negatives. My forte lies in experimental/alternative photography processes such as Lith, Photogravure, Bromoil, Platinum, Chromoskedasic, Lumenprints, and others.
Working as a darkroom tech, I get very enthusiastic when I see other patrons getting out of their comfort zone and making pictures that they hold dear to their heart.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET STARTED SHOOTING FILM?
My father shot Kodak Brownies. I remember from youth the anticipation and excitement looking at the processed photos of family and vacations. The bug was caught as a young teenager when I got my ﬁrst real ﬁlm camera, a Konica 35mm. I was shooting mostly my friends and vacation trips with my family. In my mid twenties, I travelled a lot by motorcycle, and my camera became an appendage everywhere I went chronicling my road trips.
Fast forward to my forties, I had embraced digital photography. But, only after a brief stint, I needed to move on from the digital herd that was omnipresent.
My wife is a painter and I always marveled at her creations that came from her heart to her hand and onto the canvas. This was the impetus to revisit analog photography with a renewed interest and vigor once again. My love for the tactile feel and process of making pictures with a ﬁlm camera was like getting a second wind for my aching, artful voice that I desperately sought.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST PHOTOGRAPHIC INSPIRATION TO DATE?
There are so many that have inspired by their vision, work ethic, process, and discipline. Having said that Minor White is probably at the top of the heap. There is so much emotion and thought packed into his photographs. His metaphorical abstracts of landscape are spellbinding. His belief that you need to spend time with your subject, and to make a quiet connection in order to gain permission to make the photograph, will always stick with me. A favorite quote of his is to “take pictures not for what they are, but for else they are”.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF PHOTOGRAPHY TIP OR ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Shoot often. Making meaningful photographs requires discipline, planning, and luck. And then, rinse and repeat !
Study the masters. I am constantly amazed and humbled by so many past and contemporary ﬁlm photographers. Look at the photos carefully from corner to corner. They were responsible for making iconic photos that will endure the test of time.
WHAT FILM PHOTOGRAPHY RELATED PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON (OR ARE IN THE PIPELINE)?
Due to the current pandemic, I am spending a lot of time in Montana. Here there are so many photo opportunities with the intense, varied weather, landscape, and the inhabitants that call Montana home.
I would love to plan an environmental portrait series spanning statewide of Montana cowboys and ranchers.
WHAT / WHERE IS YOUR NEXT SHOOT AND HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT FILM / KIT YOU WILL USE?
Because I have an aﬃnity to shoot pinhole and lo-ﬁ cameras, I will probably revisit Bannack, a well preserved ghost town in southwestern Montana. My ﬁlm of choice is Ilford Delta 100 for my 4x5 pinhole and HP5 for smaller format pinholes and lo-ﬁ cameras.
It’s worth mentioning that a dedicated 5x7 pinhole camera using paper negatives is always a part of my tool kit.
WHAT ARE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC GOALS GOING FORWARD?
Having a solo photo exhibition either in Montana or California. The work would be theme based using pinhole or lo-ﬁ cameras and shooting ﬁlm or paper negatives.
In addition, I hope to continue service as darkroom tech volunteer for the Irvine Fine Arts Center community in CA.
WE ALL NEED A BIT OF INSPIRATION AND LOVE SO THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO TELL THE COMMUNITY ABOUT YOURS – FROM THE FILM PHOTOGRAPHERS WHOSE WORK INSPIRES YOU, THE LABS YOU TRUST WITH YOUR FILM, YOUR ‘GO TO’ FILM PHOTOGRAPHY STOCKISTS, YOUR FAVOURITE COMMUNITY DARKROOMS OR JUST ANYONE IN THE COMMUNITY WHO YOU FEEL DESERVES A SPECIAL MENTION.
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO YOUR 3 FAVOURITE FILM PHOTOGRAPHERS (NOT PHOTOGRAPHY HUBS) CURRENTLY ACTIVE ON IG OR TWITTER AND BRIEFLY TELL US WHY OTHERS SHOULD FOLLOW THEM.
Andrew Sanderson. An ILFORD Master Printer with a fountain of knowledge and experience
Eric Bryan. Wonderful printer with an eye for detail. His work ethic is impressive.
Remy Alegado. For his minimalist approach to making evocative photographs.
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHY YOUTUBE CHANNELS (APART FROM THE @ILFORDPHOTO ONE).
Borut Peterlin - An interesting photographer that engages in many artful processes and online tutorials.
Joe Van Cleave - Homemade Pinhole builds and analog camera discussions
Also I'd add in a shout out to The Lensless Podcast - A Mecca for pinhole photographers hosted by Andrew Bartram and Corey Cannon. I was interviewed by them for episode #38.
Another shout out to Irvine Fine Arts Center. An oasis for Analog Photography.
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHIC RETAILERS (NAME, LOCATION AND WEBSITE).
Freestyle Photo www.freestylephoto.biz
B&H Photo www.bhphotovideo.com
Moersch Fotochemie www.moersch-photochemie.de
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO YOUR FAVOURITE LAB SERVICE, IF YOU HAVE ONE.
My own. I have not used a lab for the last 15 years.
WHAT FILM CAMERAS DO YOU OWN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
Having mostly toy and pinhole cameras, I own probably 50 ﬁlm cameras ranging from 35mm to 11x14 Large Format. My favorite format is square (2 1/4) using a Holga or a Rolleiﬂex f2.8 camera for portraits.
ASIDE FROM YOUR CAMERA, LENSES AND FILM WHAT ACCESSORIES MAKE IT INTO YOUR CAMERA BAG?
Always carry a Shutter release, gaﬀer tape, ﬁlters, pencil, and notepad. And, a light meter for large format work.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF PHOTOGRAPHY KIT YOU HAVE FOUND OR BEEN GIFTED?
My favorite is the Rolleiﬂex f2.8 Zeiss lens. I scored this one for about a thousand dollars 10 years ago. Today they are at least double that. It was a workhorse then, and a workhorse now. The sharpness, contrast, controls and compact size make this unquestionably utilitarian for a wide range of photographic subjects.
AS THIS IS AN ILFORD INTERVIEW IT WOULD BE REMISS OF US NOT TO ASK ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE ILFORD PRODUCTS. TELL US YOU FAVOURITE ILFORD FILM, PAPER OR CHEMS AND WHY?
For ﬁlm it is HP5, FP4, and Delta100. The consistency of its emulsion and unforgiving latitude are simply wonderful.
For Paper it is Ilford Warmtone SemiMatte used for most subjects and Warmtone Glossy for portraits. I love the slight warmth, and ability to handle split grade ﬁltering for portraits. Also, it tones very well with selenium and bleach back for other toning methods. Another mention is Ilford MG300 Art Paper which oﬀers interesting results for Lith Printing. It has a textured surface and is a sublime substrate to behold.
My favorite toner is Ilford Harman Selenium Toner. It oﬀers rich blacks, is consistent, and long lasting.
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them
I nominate Eric Bryan for his methodical approach to making pictures. He is a passionate Large Format Photographer, applying great detail and attention to his craft.
All images © Michael Weitzman
About The Author
Michael Weitzman is married to Jodi an accomplished oil painter and artist on her own. They have two sons and two grand daughters in Montana, splitting time there and in Orange County California. Michael enjoys “anything art”, playing bass guitar, traveling and foods of the world.
Bio Photograph details
Camera – Rolleiﬂex 2.8f
Film – Ilford Delta 100
Paper – Ilford Warmtone Glossy 20×25 cm