SECTION 1 - BACKGROUND
SHARE YOUR FAVORITE IMAGE/PRINT SHOT ON ILFORD FILM AND TELL US WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU.
There is so much I could say about this image, but no description I elaborate will ever do it justice. This was one of the frames in the first ever black and white film stock I shot in my life, back in 2020.
I used a point and shoot camera that was gifted to me by a man that owned a cafè in Cunha - São Paulo, that had many antiques as decoration. I was mesmerized by the film cameras there, and saw this Yashica Zoomate 76 as being the only one I could maybe afford that had a self timer (nothing was actually for sale there); so I spoke to him and asked if he could sell me that one, and he gave it to me as a gift. It was my second film camera, the first one with a timer, the beginning of my relationship with film photography, the start of my career, and a new beginning in my life.
JUST IN CASE ANYONE DOESN’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU DO CAN YOU GIVE US THE OVERVIEW?
I’m Samanta Ortega, film photographer, lab technician, teacher and researcher in alternative photochemical processes. Currently, my work focuses on teaching ecological photographic lab processes in workshops and courses. I research, test and share recipes for plant-based developers and experimental processes using film waste. My main goal as a Brazilian artist is to value and prioritize my territory’s narratives, the potential of our flora, our young artists and photographers. By tearing down what we were told photography (especially film photography) needed to be, I hope to help empower and fuel from the inside out the resurgence of film photography in Brazil.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET STARTED SHOOTING FILM?
I was already a photographer before I began shooting film, so nothing about taking pictures in itself hooked me to it. It was the film material that made me see all the possibilities of what I wished to create. I got my first roll developed in early 2020, so it took me months to get my negatives back because of the pandemic, but as soon as I got them in my hands, I knew I had to work on it and with it - so I began researching and eventually learned to develop film at home.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST PHOTOGRAPHIC INSPIRATION TO DATE?
My students. I teach photography and photochemical processes to people with all levels of knowledge; so this ends up bringing to a class people who never touched a digital camera, who never saw a film roll ever, whose families don’t even have pictures from their childhood. Yet, I get to fall in love with the process of photography again by seeing others discover it every single time.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF PHOTOGRAPHY TIP OR ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
This is a very important message I took from practicing film development: As humans, we can find meaning in anything; so the process of creating a photograph is the only thing that actually matters. Follow what makes your heart tremble and your eyes shine. The photo will make it’s own sense after, if you let it.
WHAT FILM PHOTOGRAPHY RELATED PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON (OR ARE IN THE PIPELINE)?
I am currently working on the preliminary project of a book and digital publication that serves as a baseline for home made and low cost B&W film and paper developers using plants from each biome in Brazilian flora.
WHAT / WHERE IS YOUR NEXT SHOOT AND HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT FILM / KIT YOU WILL USE?
Since I don’t photograph as much nowadays and shooting film in Brazil is extremely expensive, I’ve actually been photographing with stocks I am kindly gifted from people who believe in the work that I put forward, which I am very grateful for! So my process is kind of “backwards”, I would say; I plan a shoot based on the film I have on hand and what it calls for.
WHAT ARE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC GOALS GOING FORWARD?
To see as many people developing their own film, sharing experiences and experimenting with the process of eco friendly developers as possible!
SECTION 2 - SHOUT OUTS
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 FAVORITE FILM PHOTOGRAPHERS.
- Gal. Treegan ( @curiosolab ) is my absolute number one reference for ecology and chemistry in the lab, the first source I ever encountered on the work I do today. I am very grateful for the work he puts out there.
- Carol Menegatti ( @irretrievablepast ) is someone I met online years ago and saw her interest in photography and alternative processes grow so much over the last year. She is doing such beautiful and touching work!
- Luciana Salgado ( @lucianasalgadoartist ) is a loving and sensitive soul and photographer. She is now falling deeply in love with using film as a medium and you can expect an ever growing presence of 35mm shots from her!
GIVE A SHOUT-OUT TO YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHY YOUTUBE CHANNELS.
Got to mention the one that introduced many people to the possibilities of film in Brazil, Câmera Velha!
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHIC RETAILERS.
Divided by state, here it goes:
- O Retratista (chemicals) (https://www.diafragma8.com.br/)
- O Cara dos Filmes (https://ocaradosfilmes.meucatalogodigital.com/categoria/9269/a-filmes-cor-formato-35mm/)
- Rebobina Lab (https://www.rebobinalab.com.br/)
Rio de Janeiro
- Festival de Filmes Vencidos (https://www.festivaldefilmesvencidos.com.br/)
- Una Laboratório Fotográfico (https://www.unalaboratoriofotografico.com.br/)
GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO YOUR FAVOURITE LAB SERVICE.
Kodak Mafia ( @kodakmafia )
Rio de Janeiro
Lab Gruta ( @labgrutarj )
Una Laboratório Fotográfico ( @unalaboratoriofotografico )
O Barco ( @obarco.estudio )
SECTION 3 - FAVOURITE KIT
WHAT FILM CAMERAS DO YOU OWN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
At the moment I actually only own one functioning camera, a Pentax Espio 105WR. I also have a (broken) Nikon F2, and I like using a 3D printer pinhole I got from O Retratista, as well as improvising a medium format pinhole in a (also broken) Agfa Isola. However, I was lent a Canonet QL17 that I’ve been using for months now and it’s gotta be my favorite I’ve ever used.
ASIDE FROM YOUR CAMERA, LENSES AND FILM WHAT ACCESSORIES MAKE IT INTO YOUR CAMERA BAG?
My changing bag! Just in case.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF PHOTOGRAPHY KIT YOU HAVE FOUND OR BEEN GIFTED?
The only camera in my family is a Rolleiflex with a Rolleikin 35mm adapter kit. It was my grandpa’s and we still got it. The camera needs a fix, but the adapter is one of my favorite things ever. I’m also deeply in love with a Pentax 28mm f/2.8 lens I thrifted once and will stubbornly buy adapters for whatever SLR camera I ever get so I can use it.
AS THIS IS AN ILFORD INTERVIEW, IT WOULD BE REMISS OF US NOT TO ASK ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE ILFORD PRODUCTS. TELL US YOUR FAVORITE ILFORD FILM, PAPER, OR CHEMS AND WHY?
NOMINATE ONE OTHER PERSON YOU THINK SHOULD FILL IN THIS FORM AND WE WILL REACH OUT TO THEM.
My dearest friend Lana Maciel @apaixaosegundolm is one of my favorite artists and photographers. She’s doing amazing research in chlorophyll printing and is wonderfully talented in multiple exposures!
Images ©Samanta Ortega
About The Author
Samanta Ortega is a lab technician, photographer and teacher from São Paulo, Brazil.
By valuing the past, present and future history of photographic processes from a Brazilian perspective, she has, for the last 2 years, dedicated her practice to exploring plant-based developers in an experimental approach to film manipulation and photochemical studies, prioritizing the sharing of information on the subject in portuguese.
Her work has been recognized for a sensitive, poetic and political approach to a relationship with nature, community building and eco-consciousness.