I really dig people who shoot on film, and I mean, photographers who are darn good in shooting on film. The photographs that film produced - I just find they are magical - something that digital cameras can't even replicate.
Fifi is coming from an emerging community of film photographers here in Brunei. I got the chance to ask her why shooting film gives her a sense of satisfaction
My name is Fifi. I'm 20 years old. Currently, I'm studying BA Philosophy and Politics at the University of Essex in the UK. When I'm not drowning myself in assignments, I'm a film photographer and a huge lover of all things creative, vintage and rustic.
How’s life being a student in UK?
There is a lot of challenges to living your life as a student in the UK especially when your main support system (family and friends alike) is not there with you. I knew what I was going to face before I went there. So, what I did to keep myself positive was to look at being abroad as an opportunity for me to meet people that I wouldn't have met and to visit the places that I wouldn't have visited otherwise, and even to do some things that I wouldn't have been able to like film photography.
So what attracts you in shooting film? Just strictly film?
I absolutely love the colour composition that film gives. Some effects on Photoshop have tones that can be easily achieved on film. So I figured I might as well experiment with film straight away. In time, I realised how shooting film allows me to sink into the slow progression of time, resulting in a contemplative outlook on my surrounding, which ultimately brings the subject matter into focus.
Sometimes, I like to take photos with my Samsung A5. At the moment, I'm considering to get a digital camera as another mean to explore my creativity.
Have you done any projects using film?
Yes, I have a couple of series highlighting and exploring different themes such as light and leisure, but they're not exactly major projects. I would say that all of my work is personal because I shoot while I am amongst loved ones, or alone when my mind is the loudest.
Any photographers’ work that you follow?
You! Hehe. Others include Parker Fitzgerald, Christian Watson, Rona Keller, Müjga Afran Özceylan, Spenser Sakurai and Luthfi Kautsar. Parker Fitzgerald is actually the film photographer who really inspired to delve myself into film photography and he works with Leica M6 and Leica M3, both of which are on my wishlist!
Haha, thanks. I’m humbled. Tell me your fascination with anything-Kinfolk? How does it inspire you?
I must admit, I am heavily influenced and inspired by the Kinfolk magazine. Its whole manifesto speaks soundly to me on what it means to gather with family and friends where food and conversations are the centrepiece on the table. As a little busy bee who constantly goes around, I do feel the need to unwind and relax with my loved ones or spare some quality me-time by immersing myself in the little things that make me happy, and Kinfolk somehow allows me to manifest that through film photography.
I guess it influences you to be a lifestyle blogger?
What’s your process of capturing portraits?
Before I go out to shoot, I like to drown myself in indie folk music as I visualise what I have in mind. People say that having a moodboard helps. I do that from time to time, but I'm a very spontaneous person, so sometimes I just shoot whatever that I find deeply and perhaps ostensibly thought-provoking. I think shooting film helps me to capture what I truly want by waiting for the right moment. So if you find me in a daze along the street, that's just me waiting for the right moment.
Regardless of film and digital, I look out for light and shadow which makes and shapes the image. For me, I always think, "Is the light too dim? Do I want harsh lines?" So by understanding what I want to achieve through light and shadow, I try to create an image that conveys what I want to deliver to the viewer.
Any preferences for subjects that you shoot?
Not really. I'm always into subjects that I either know personally or not at all. At the same time, I want the subjects to be able to tell their own stories and emotions. It's definitely easier to work with close friends. So I'm looking into working with others in the near future just to get out of my comfort zone.
How challenging is it to be a film photographer? Especially in Brunei
It's very challenging! I find it difficult to maintain myself as a film photographer due to two reasons: 1) Lack of studio labs that develop films, 2) Lack of suppliers for film rolls. I can hardly find any studio that develops films anymore, but I did come across one called Station Eight. Unfortunately, their chemicals ran out, and it's taking a while for the chemicals to arrive. They also sell 35mm films and medium format films, but not a lot. There is a choice of sending your film rolls to be developed overseas, but that's a lot of money for me as a student.
Is it because people have transitioned from film to digital?
How do you showcase yourself as a film photographer?
I think this is exactly where I'm on the grey line. I've been showcasing my work by putting them up on Instagram and my blog for the mere purpose of sharing and advocating 'slow living' and 'travelling the world'. Now what I'm not sure about is whether or not these platforms of social media would suffice in sharing my work with the whole world. But I always keep in mind that as long as I enjoy doing what I'm doing, I shouldn't worry too much about that unless I'm actually making a business out of it.
What’s your definition of slow living?
To live slowly is to give yourself time to just be as you are where time is of the essence in spite of your hectic schedule. It also means to give room for mindless musing and wandering or even spontaneity. This notion may seem idealistic, but it's truly rewarding if one could be appreciative of unwinding, reflecting and reminiscing. One of the utmost important values here is that less is more and it all comes down to finding contentment within yourself before you seek that in others. Slow living is not just a lifestyle. It's also a principle.
Anything that excites you in the future?
I'm definitely excited to travel more and to get my hands on a Leica. Hahah! But in all seriousness, there is so many things for me to look forward to aside from travel and photography. I'm stoked to fly back to the UK to continue my second year of undergraduate studies next week!
Any good music recommendations?
Oh Wonder is currently my mostly played band! All of their songs are chill and relaxing. Alina Baraz & Galimatias is another contender as well. For those who love indie folk, I'd recommend listening to anything by Angus Stone, Bon Iver, Daughter, Jose Gonzalez and Andrew Bird.
If someone were to look at your portfolio, what do you want them to take away from it? What do you think you're trying to communicate?
I want them to think about what's going on inside the mind of the subject and to feel what they can muster from it. What could possibly be going on in the mind of the subject? What was happening when the photo was taken? Some photographers create moments, others document. I am a bit of both, so I'd like the viewer to think of whether the image was a documentary or a creation to incite the emotive mood of the subject at hand. Thus, this would encourage a somewhat philosophical connection that for the viewer to ponder and wonder about because whatever they can think of, they might be right and that is the beauty of transcendence in photography.
And it is that beauty that I want to deliver to the viewer.