How did I get to a point where I shoot 99% of the projects on medium format film?
Growing up in the early digital era I got a Olympus point and shoot when I was 13. It helped me to learn the basics. Fast forward a couple of years, between 2011 - 2013 I had the chance to shoot with multiple top end models from different brands including the Pentax 645Z, the digital medium format. They all seemed more or less the same to me with no real distinct characteristics besides the pixel count.
At the time I started to realise that I was taking too many images and therefore losing the connection with the subject, location and myself. I was not enjoying it as much as I did years ago.
Photography had become too instant, too easy, too superficial. There was no deep focus or element of surprise for me anymore during that process. I felt like my photography didn’t have a face and I could be replaced. I didn’t feel like an artist. I didn’t like that.
I got myself a Flexaret Standard 80mm f3,5 few months before going to the UK to study Photography in 2013. It was made in the 1960’s in Czechoslovakia and as a tool it was directly the opposite that I had been used to. Flexaret was slow to operate, it was hard to focus, setting it up and taking a single portrait took me around 5 minutes in the beginning.. But there was this engaging process which involved setting up the camera and getting everything ready to take the image, I really liked that part. I felt like an artist. This old medium format TLR really got me thinking and acted as a visual filter for my work. When putting the composition together it helped me to leave out the unnecessary noise and focus on the visual aspects I enjoy in the image. I ended up shooting with Flexaret around 3 years throughout my time in the Coventry University. Sticking with that method of image making helped me greatly to form my ‘’ style ‘’ as a photographer.
When I take portraits now with the Mamiya RZ67 I immerse myself as much as I can into the environment and to the people I am with. I would say that the actual image making takes 30% of the time spent on the set. Speaking with the models, looking how the light bounces in the room, thinking about compositions takes all the rest. Many models have said that taking the time on set and shooting less frames makes them feel more comfortable. Trust is gained more naturally. One of my main agendas is to win the trust of the people I photograph in order to empower them and capture their most attractive self. I am using the waist lever viewfinder to make images with the RZ. That means my face is mostly uncovered by the camera which helps me to connect more with the models by direct eye contact. I love to collaborate and make the whole process two sided. I do that to give more power and control to the other side in order to share ideas and have a more stronger outcome. I feel confident when shooting with medium format film, but still there is that surprise element every time when I see the final images. I love it. It keeps me coming back and perfecting my craft.
I feel like an artist who is creating in his own way.