Film is timeless, by Tom Sebastiano
"Digital is great, but film is beautiful"
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, my name is Tom and I’m a 48 year old salesman living in London.
When and how did the film journey begin for you?
In 1982, I bought my first camera a Fujica STX1. As a kid I loved to draw and paint, but as I got older I gradually realised that to be any good required a lot of time and practice neither of which I had the patience for. So I thought maybe I could experiment with photography as a creative outlet, I guess it was the mixture of creativity and technology that attracted me.
At first I learnt by trial and error taking the usual teenage photos of my life and friends. At that time I lived in northern Italy and would sometimes go up into the beautiful Apennine mountains to take landscape photos using using Ektachrome or Fujichrome.
I just loved the look of the tiny jewel like images that came back from the lab in their little white frames, I found it so exciting holding them up to the light!
What type of film do you usually shoot and what made you choose it?
Over the years I’ve tried many different types of films, many of which have simply disappeared now. What’s left is all good and I’m increasingly confident that film makers feel the global market is sustainable. It seems that the timeless quality of film and experience of its use is appreciated even by new generations of photographers who arguably were born in to a digitally dominated world.
Digital is great, but film is beautiful. In answer to your question I have mostly been a Kodak and Fuji user. My favourite films being Kodak Portra 400 because I love its muted colours and skin tones and Fuji Neopan 400, especially in 120 format. I like its slight grain and hard contrasty look, that is until I run out since Fuji sadly stopped making it.
What camera makes you click?
I have managed to avoid becoming a camera collector, as much as I like the idea of having a shelf full of classic cameras I can’t bear the notion of them not being used on a regular basis. Sometimes I swap and borrow other photographers cameras, so I have been able to spend time using the stunning Rolleiflex ƒ2.8 a couple of brilliant Mamyia’s and even a Leica. I prefer the idea of using only one or two cameras that way I get to know them well and understand what I can do with them fully, if that’s even possible?
Currently I use a 35mm Contax S2, it’s a beautiful, small, manual fully mechanical camera with a spot meter, almost the bare essentials of photography. My other camera is a Hasselblad 500c/m which I will keep forever, period. One camera I would love to try is the Contax 645, it looks like a high tech technical tour de force and appears capable of making brilliant photographs… in the right hands of course.
Between black and white and colour film which would you choose?
I can’t photograph one without the other.
What lenses do you use?
Prime Lenses, I zoom with my feet! Both my cameras use Zeiss glass so I guess I’m spoilt. On my Contax I use a 28mm Distagon ƒ2.8 and 50mm Planar ƒ1.7 and on the Hasselblad the classic 80mm Planar ƒ2.8. I love portraiture so maybe a nice 85mm for the Contax or 150mm for the Hasselblad next.
Do you make any experiments on film?
Not a lot really unless you count using expired film. A lot of what’s in my fridge is out of date, some 1984 Ektachrome and 1990 TMAX. Last year I shot some portraits with 1993 Velvia that hadn’t even been stored in a fridge, I loved the results.
You can find Tom Sebastiano here: