Why Film?

Since 2016 I’ve messed around with film casually alongside digital. Early 2020, COVID-19 forced me to return a year early from a mission trip in Colombia and completely restart my life from zero. I couldn’t afford a digital camera like the one I sold to go on the trip but, my good experiences with 35mm SLR cameras in the past led me to pick up an Olympus OM-10 for $40 and I haven’t shot digital since.

Where it began

As a photographer this was my first venture into making physical art. Starting in November of last year, I’ve begun taking film photography from more of a pastime, to a real passion in my life. Photography is a form of creating that I feel like can be easily shared in today’s world and it’s become not only my way of sharing my perspective, but also understanding people.

Snapping pictures alone in the street has completely snowballed into nonstop, collaborating, planning, and shooting of photography projects with other creative individuals I meet. In scale, effort and reception, this project I feel was the pinnacle of that for me so far.

It started out like most of my work, direct messages on Instagram with a photographer I hadn’t met back in January over the potential of mixed media and printing. That conversation planted the clear image of what I wanted to make in my head, a black and white shot of a man with a single red, semi translucent paint stroke across his eyes. One thing led to another, we split studio time together and she taught me how to use bulb lights, my friend Jean agreed to model last minute, and by early February I had traded my second stimulus payment for, ‘We Think. We Are’. My first contemporary art project.

A break down

A mixed media collection of 7 prints, ‘We Think We Are’. explores personal emotional understanding and the isolating disconnect between mentality and reality. Model Jean Mpalomby plays the ego within mind across the seven different scenes.

The photos were shot in studio on one 35mm roll ILFORD Ortho film. The original plan was to shoot the photos in medium format but due to complications in the studio my back up roll of thirty five ended creating the only photos used in the project. Ilford Ortho is my preferred black and white film stock for all my black and white shooting currently but it was specifically chosen for this project because the low ASA makes for very fine grain that kept the subject looking crisp and detailed when made into the physical 12” by 12” prints.  I had them processed in a lab and they were printed digitally. Unfortunately I’ve never even seen a darkroom or had any chance to try darkroom printing myself 🙁

The red paint brings an outside presence to a few of the pieces in the collection. I am by no means a painter and had to do a bit of my own research before deciding on oil paint for prints. More than just an added color, the texture of oil paint physically adds to the pieces and plays a role in the scene.  I don’t believe I could have done this, digitally, in camera, or with another kind of paint.

Images ©Kizzy Kalu