Every few weeks we find out more about one of our Brainiacs’ passions outside of work and we write about it so we can all get to know them a bit better. This week we sat down with our intern superstar, David, to find out more about his creative passion for analogue photography. Here’s what he had to say for himself.
Q: When did you get started with your passion for photography?
I got started about 2 years ago when I had the idea of getting myself a camera as a personal Christmas gift. I always enjoyed taking pictures with my phone, but at some point, I started to feel a bit limited and I became interested in learning how to use a proper camera.
Like most other people, I considered buying an entry-level DSLR camera, but even that meant having to spend at least a few hundred Euros that I didn’t have as a student.
I started to look for alternatives, and analogue photography suddenly became an option. I found out that you could buy pretty decent cameras for not that much money, so I started doing some research. I also spent some time searching where to buy film, develop and scan the negatives in Amsterdam (since I was not going to do that myself). After making some enquiries and running the numbers I thought that it would at least be worth a try.
Two weeks after that Christmas I found a good deal online, and after some bargaining, I managed to get myself my first camera and a nice little vintage bag.
Q: What is it about your photography that you like the most?
I always doubted if I was really a ‘creative’ person’. I used to draw a lot as a kid and I also tried learning how to play the piano, but during my high school years, I pretty much neglected any creative activity. Trying out photography really helped me rediscover that part of my personality, and so far it has been really fun.
Just like any other form of art, it takes years of hard work to really master your craft, but you can learn the basics of photography quite quickly. In a relatively short period of time, you can already start ‘making stuff’, which is extremely satisfying.
I love shooting analogue/film. I think most people would agree that having a limited amount of shots and no screen for feedback creates a different experience. You learn to value every frame, and you begin to develop a sense of trust in your photographer’s eye. Also, there’s always some randomness about shooting film that makes it very exciting. You don’t always remember what you’re getting back from the scans, plus, the development process and film stock you’re using can always affect how the final image comes out.
Q: Have you entered any competitions or will this just be for enjoyment?
Not yet, but I think it would be fun to try it in the future. Usually, if you want to enter a competition you have to submit a body of work that is somehow connected or has a certain theme. So far I’ve done photography for fun and practice, without a specific idea in mind. That’s a new challenge that I’d love to take. I feel that at some point taking images with a purpose is a very important step for growing as a photographer.
Q: What kind of pictures do you take and is there a specific technique you need to use?
I mostly do street photography. I take my camera with me and head out to a part of the city that I find photogenic or interesting, and then walk around or wait until something sparks my interest. I do this in every city that I visit, but I also try to go out and explore Amsterdam as much as possible. I’ve also been trying to shoot portraits, but I’m just getting started and haven’t had the chance to do it as much as I’d like to.
In terms of technique, I don’t really have a specific method for taking images. I’d probably say that patience is very important since waiting for the right moment at the right spot can be difficult (especially with bad weather). Besides that, I always look for symmetry in my compositions. I like to find patterns, lines, or other elements that can give the image some structure and draw attention to certain points. It also makes it more fun to look around when I have my camera with me.
Q: Where did you learn photography?
Online, just like thousands of other people. There’s a ton of free information if you want to learn the principles of photography. And as I said before you can learn the basics very quickly if you are dedicated.
Surprisingly, there’s also a lot of content on analogue photography itself. From camera and film reviews, to repair tutorials and even tips on how to do some experimentation. It’s still a niche, but I believe it’s been growing fast and I’m very happy about that.
Q: What do you generally shoot?
The streets, always trying to document what’s around me. Most of the time it will include people just living their normal life, running to catch the metro or biking around the city. I prefer having one or multiple subjects in the frame, but sometimes if there’s an empty street landscape I’ll press the shutter anyway. Busy places like parks and metro stations can be quite interesting; it’s really a matter of exploring around and finding something interesting.
Q: What equipment do you use?
I currently own three cameras. The first is an Olympus OM-2, which is classic SLR made in 1975. It’s my main camera, and I’m happy it was kept in neat condition because it has never failed me. I also own an Olympus XA2, a small point and shoot. It’s a very compact and non-intrusive camera, so I usually take it with me to parties or wherever I don’t want people to notice it much.
Then, I have a Polaroid OneStep 600 that used to be from my dad. It’s the one I use the least since the pictures are very expensive, but it’s great for making portraits and keeping them or giving them away as a special gift.
Thank you for taking the time to tell us more about your interesting passion, David! It is clear in the way you speak that photography means a lot to you and that you have found a wonderful way to let your creativity flourish. We hope to attend one of your photographic exhibitions in Amsterdam someday soon!