After stumbling across Anseong-based Patrick Bresnahan’s photography online, I got in touch with him to talk some more about his artform. I was astounded to discover that every image he has created is from one of his various film cameras, none of which are digitally manipulated. He let me publish some of his stunning pictures and shared some words about why he shoots in film.
(Hold your mouse over the picture for info on the photographic technique/ camera used.)
I’ve been asked countless times before why, in this digital, technology-crazed age, I’m still using film.
Isn’t it limiting? Isn’t it expensive? Isn’t it antiquated? Not at all. There are so many reasons to use film over digital cameras. For one, it’s simply more fun. Digital cameras give us that instant gratification. You take the shot, look down, see it right away. With film, you gotta wait. The excitement and anticipation to see what you captured can be really engrossing.
Using film cameras can make us better photographers.
We’re limited by only so many photos on the roll we have ready. So, we must ask ourselves what we want to capture. Instead of taking seven thousand mediocre and twelve good digital images in an afternoon, we have to focus on making every frame of film count.
For me, using digital cameras can be too mindless.
If I have film, I’m naturally concentrating more on my lighting, my angle, subject, everything. More energy goes into producing one shot. And, since my mind’s in it, I’ll know why the image was wrong if it comes out poorly. The next roll should be better since we all inherently learn from our mistakes.
I like to shoot film on several toy cameras because of their flaws.
Digital cameras can yield these perfect, crisp images. Yet, the world isn’t always so lucid. I’d rather capture more of an impression of my surroundings.
I’m not one for photoshop.
Absolutely none of my pictures are photoshopped in any manner. Digital photography often feels like an imitation of sorts to me. Folks go out, shoot digitally, and spend hours in front of their computers digitally manipulating their pictures – making them like toy camera snaps.
I’d rather shoot with a toy camera and skip staring at a screen.
I want to go out, take a photo, and be proud of it the way it came out as opposed to liking it only after it has been digitally edited. Some of my cameras give light leaks, strong vignetting, and all sorts of other unpredictable results. It makes photography more exciting. With digital, there’s really no surprise as to how one’s shot is going to turn out.
One other benefit of film photography is its tangibility.
You can hold, touch, sniff a negative. It feels real, and you can keep it forever. Sadly, hard drives crash. USB sticks get lost. I feel it’s easier to hold onto a pile of negatives.
I do a lot of my work in a darkroom, developing and printing my own black and white photos.
This is an art and skill that can be really satisfying. Watching an image emerge on a piece of paper in a red-lit tray is so fascinating.
One can be very experimental using film photography.
One technique I occasionally practice is cross processing, meaning developing slide (positive image) film in color negative chemicals. This gives odd color shifts, vibrancy, and ultimately a trippy looking photo.
Another thing I experiment with is double and multiple exposures, which is taking several pictures on the same frame.
The results can be really dreamy. Sometimes they come out a complete mess, distracting to the eye. Yet, sometimes they work really well.
I also do a bit of camera modification, mainly turning a Holga medium format camera into a 35mm shooter.
Even though the Holga was designed for 120 film, it can easily be modified for 35mm. Since 35mm is physically much shorter than 120, the sprocket holes will be exposed to light when shooting. Therefore, the entire strip of the film can be seen, and all the little spaces between the sprocket holes will also give an image
I’ve tried my hand at making my own redscale film.
Essentially, it’s just taking out film from one canister, inverting it, and putting it into another empty canister. When the light comes in and touches the opposite side of the film, images turn red and smoldering oranges.
Photography works for me because it incorporates travelling, another thing I love.
Taking pictures gets me in motion. It’s a hunt, and it trains the eye for all things odd and aesthetic. The hunt is my catalyst for creativity.
Patrick Bresnahan is showcasing some of his photography this Saturday at the Outlanders exhibition, POWWOW, near Noksapyeong station. If you happen to be around Cheonan, Patrick’s infrared images are currently being featured at Aalto Cafe in downtown Cheonan until November 15th