Film to its limits, by Celine Meunier
"Photography is about capturing light and shadows and I like them shown."
Tell us about yourself.
Hi ! I'm a 26 year old born & raised in Paris, France. I work at a cultural institute named Institut du monde arabe, and i'm also part of an artist collective called Arabstazy. It is mainly electronic music, balanced with visual arts (VJing, photography...) to create a "total" performance.
When and how did the film journey begin for you?
My very first camera was a Fisherprice! I was probably 5, I still have the pictures. I was quitte short for my age and their framing reflects that; it's sort of amusing.
Then I actually got into photography in 2011, when I was given a second hand Nikon FM2 by my grand mother when I moved to study in Istanbul. I checked up the basis of the optical system on the Internet and started shooting&learning from then on.
What type of film do you usually shoot and what made you choose it?
I like low ISO film because they have thinner grain that allows to push further towards the limits of the gear which I enjoy trying (very hight/low light, no lightmeter, no tripod etc.).
B&W I like strong contrasts. Photography is about capturing light and shadows and I like them shown. Coupled with framing, I feel it gives a picture it's own life.
In the end more than a specific brand i'd go for a film that fits those characteristics.
What camera makes you click?
My FM2 has a deep sentimental value and you cannot top that !
Otherwise I use a Hasselblad 503CW, the lens quality is incredible and I like that it is a modulable camera: I'm currently experimenting a project with a polaroid back.
I also very recently got my hand on a Nikonos V. I dive quite a lot and though disposable camera makes for a sweet experience in general it doesn't quite do the trick when it comes to deep depth adventure.
Between black and white and colour film which would you choose?
That one is tough. I think I have shown better skills with b&w until now because I can more easily appeal to my long practice of visual arts with it (framing, composition...).
Which actually makes more of a reason to shoot more colour !
What lenses do you use?
I only use FFL. I have a 50mm f1.4 Nikkor, a 20mm f2.8 Nikkor, a 35mm 2.5 nikkor and a 80mm 2.8 Zeiss Planar. Most of them are old types and I'm not sure if they built them differently then but comparing the pictures it seems as if old ones take light slighlty differently.
Film photography gives you a margin of error so you don't actually have to set light and aperture each time you take a picture, but only if you use fixed lenses. Thus you can concentrate on focus, framing, composition or seize evanescent moments.
Do you make any experiments on film?
I have been doing a b&w multiple exposure series last summer. It was quite a challenge for it requires acute precision with exposure. For the very fist time I found myself compelled to using my camera's built-in light meter. FYI low light helps a lot ! It's a bit like making ratatouille since you'll be sort of overcooking the film in this process, but the aim is to do just the right amount, so it doesn't burn.
Currently i'm transferring photo gelatins on different mediums. It's a project around the idea of memory, identity, and photography as a sedimentary object. It is still a work in progress...
I actually enjoy more and more using photography as a material because it broadens the perspective of what you can express through it. But al of this has been done stunningly by many others before me !