A black and white story, by Valentin Derrien
"I definitely go for that feeling I have when I discover my photographs, this mix between anxiety and excitement is priceless."
Tell us about yourself.
I am 23 years old, I was born and raised in Brittany, France. I then moved to Montreal, Canada for my studies. I am currently based in Lyon, France, where I am doing a masters degree in engineering.
When and how did the film journey begin for you?
Back in the days, when I was still living in Brittany, my garage was a total mess and between surfboards and skateboards were my grandpa’s old cameras : Zeiss Ikon Ikonta, Yashica Mat 124, Balda Baldessa… I asked my dad to show me the photographs : numerous black and white portraits and architecture pics. I was definitely intrigued.
After that, when I moved to Montreal in 2014, I decided to buy myself an analog camera to capture my new life in a different way than taking iPhone pics. So I bought an Olympus Trip35, a bunch of Tri-X400 rolls and started to shoot during a trip to Boston. I was totally charmed by the finish and it got me addicted to film photography.
What drives you to keep shooting film?
First of all, I love the texture of analog shots, the grain always surprises and amazes me. I also appreciate taking the time to find the best angle before capturing architecture instead of shooting many digital pics and then delete them all.
On the other hand, the fact that I have to be very reactive to shoot people and their emotions is thrilling. And I definitely go for that feeling I have when I discover my photographs, this mix between anxiety and excitement is priceless.
What do you focus on when shooting film and what inspires you?
I love to shoot my everyday life : my friends, random people in the streets, skateboarding and surfing atmospheres, architecture… My camera is always close to me so I can react quickly and immortalize the moment. I’m not really into shooting models because I don’t feel like I’m capturing an original emotion.
Many photographers influence my work : Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa or Dorothea Lange. But if I have to choose one between all those artists, it would be Henri Cartier-Bresson. I really love the approach he had on photography. I have received his book ’’The Decisive Moment’’ a few years ago and it has been my Bible ever since!
What cameras and films do you use most and why?
I still use my Olympus Trip35 and Kodak Tri-X400 films because I know perfectly how it works and I love the finish it gives me on black and white films. It is a really light camera, I always carry it with me and it never bothers me. It also takes very sharp pictures.
And last but not least, it is one of the most beautiful cameras I’ve ever seen, I really love the black and silver colors and the selenium cell.
If you had one last chance to shoot film, where would you go? Who would you take with you? What would you shoot? Why?
That’s a tough one ! If I had only one last chance to shoot film I’d probably go by myself, to enjoy this incredible feeling one last time. There are so many places where I wish I could go and shoot film. But if I have to pick one, I would definitely chose New York City. This city is totally insane and full of unforeseen events. It is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the world and everything seems shootable. The energy in this city is astonishing and as a photographer it is my favorite playground, specially Brooklyn.
Where do you develop & scan your film?
Unfortunately I can’t develop and scan my rolls myself. I hope I’ll be able to do it one day! I give them to a photo lab here in Lyon, named «Labo Gris Souris». They do it quickly and properly and it’s not that expensive. Hopefully I’ll have a dark room when I’ll have my own place !
You can find Valentin Derrien here: