We're heading back to October last year when Arkadiy Shlein nominated Oleg Kasko to take part in this series after following his Instagram feed. Oleg is a photographer and passionate darkroom printer and advocate from the Ukraine.
Section 1 - Background
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
I like this one because when you look at the photo you see a boat surrounded by white like milk, water. Although in fact it was taken at night. I decided I would leave it as a negative as soon as I saw the film after development. I think this is the rare case when a photograph looks better as a negative. It was taken with Ilford film and to print this as a negative I use Ilford direct positive paper.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
My name is Oleg Kasko, I’m from Ukraine. I can’t say that I am a professional photographer. Photography for me is a hobby, perhaps a passion, which I give a lot of time. Although, to be honest I’d like photography to be my job and I’d have more time for this.
How and why did you get started shooting film?
I bought my first camera in 2003 and it was Canon EOS 300D, a digital camera, that was a new invention. As soon as I became interested in photography, I immediately decided that I liked film photography. Shortly thereafter, I bought Mamiya 645, then Hasselblad and started shooting on black and white film only.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?
My first photographic inspiration was Michael Kenna. I ordered a few of his books and I liked those black and white minimalist landscapes so much. This is why I began using red filters to get dramatic image mood and ND filters to get long exposition. At the moment I like many black white photographers, both modern and old. Pictorialism made the biggest impression on me! Clarence H. White , George Davison, Robert Demachy. There are many amazing American and European artists, but if you ask me to call just one, I’d say that my favorite is Leonard Misonne, a Belgian pictorialist photographer who made beautiful pictures, not just photos.
What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?
At Max Bedov @maxbedov class I found out about pin-registration carrier system. The perfect tool for precision printing and masking in the darkroom. With this knowledge, my prints became much better. Also good advice is to learn how to use the zone metering system correctly. Unfortunately, most of my early photographs were taken without understanding the zones, without applying this knowledge to the film development process. So now when I print my old negatives, I have to deal with the mistakes that were made in the past.
What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?
Besides shooting new photos and being busy printing my own negatives, I recently discovered a new hobby. I have not written about this anywhere yet. Very often I saw old photographs and could not believe how sharp they are and how beautiful the overall image is. So, I got the idea to find some old 8x10 negative just to take a look at it and maybe print it with an enlarger. Luckily I have an 8x10 enlarger. Now I just can't stop! Since then I have already bought many old glass and film negatives. Almost all negatives are about 100 years old and even older.
The most interesting thing is that most of the photos were taken by ordinary people, these negatives were lying for many years somewhere, probably never been printed and now I’m giving them a new life! I like to think of those photographers who would be grateful to me for bringing their artwork back to life. It is so exciting to discover portraits of unknown people and images of everyday life that was 100 years ago. Some negatives cost me literally just a couple of dollars but some a few hundred. It's always like looking for treasure. So, at this moment I have collected an impressive collection of really interesting old photographs and I will show them very soon.
What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?
Last year I had a planned trip around Europe, I'm just alone in the car, driving to all popular and little-known places in Europe, shooting all day long. Also I was going to get to Socotra, because that amazing island opened for tourists a couple of years ago and hasn't been filled with tourists like other places. Unfortunately, the worldwide pandemic changed my plans. At this moment, all my free time I devote to printing the already shot material.
WHAT ARE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC GOALS GOING FORWARD?
My main photographic goal is to prepare two exhibitions, with my personal photos and with prints made from old negatives that were taken by unknown photographers.
Section 2 - Shout outs
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.
I will name those who haven’t been shown at your project yet:
Trond Skoglund @skoglundtrond Apart from the beautiful content of the photos, these works are an illustration of how to do classic BW photography right.
Steve Hall @steve_glasseye This is modern pictorial photography and I believe the readers would be interested to take a look at what photography can be.
Alex Bond @oldskoolfilm To discover stand development. Especially considering the fact that Ilford FP4+ and HP5+ are great for this process.
Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).
Fotoimpex from Berlin (www.fotoimpex.com) In my country it’s a problem to buy film and paper and these guys ship worldwide with DHL and the delivery is really cheap.
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website).
I can’t tell anyone, because I don't use any lab service, I develop films and print myself.
Section 3 - Favourite kit
What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite? (Please send us a picture of it if you can).
I have 8x10 Arca Swiss F-metric and Hasselblad 503cx. I love my old friend Hasselblad but since I got a large format camera I have never used it. A large format camera is something absolutely amazing.
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
The most useful thing for any photographer with any film camera is a spotmeter. I have a Pentax digital spotmeter. I can’t imagine a more convenient spotmeter.
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
The best photography kit was an 8x10 enlarger, an 8x10 camera, tripod, lenses and all that was needed for that new for me format. If you are thinking about switching to a large format camera, don't waste your time! I wish I started filming with it earlier!
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?
Honestly I just recently switched to Ilford HP5+ because of the price. Also this film is better for push process and stand development. As for paper and chemistry I mostly use Multigrade FB Classic black and white paper and Multigrade Paper Developer with Hypam fixer. Also I like ART300 paper very much, it gives an impressive picture!
Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them
Yannick Michel @blackandwhitekorner
All images © Oleg Kasov
About The Author
I’m Oleg Kasko. I’m from Ukraine, Kharkiv. I’m 39 years old. I am a civil engineer by education, but my main job right now is web design. Although more and more I think about taking photography as my job.
Follow me on Instagram @OlegKasko