"Film never ceases to surprises me."

Tell us about yourself.

I am 25, born and brought up in Madras. I have lived here all my life and the city has been a major part in what I am as a photographer. So yes I am a documentary photographer who produces visual content for living. It is hard to make a living just being a documentary photographer unless you have made a name for yourself. So i create visual content like music videos, product photography, corporate films which fund my life and my personal documentary projects.
Madhana Gopal When and how did the film journey begin for you?

It was a couple of years ago through Manikandan, a Director/cinematographer in the Indian film industry. A keen shooter of film and someone who understands the magic it can produce encouraged me to start shooting in film. He even gifted me 5 rolls of Kodak Portra 120 film and was kind enough to introduce me to Sekar, a vintage camera collector in the city. He owns more than 4000 vintage cameras and it was love at first sight for me when my eyes fell on them. I bought my first medium format camera Mamiya RB67 Pro S from him.
Madhana Gopal What type of film do you usually shoot and what made you choose it?

I usually shoot colour negatives, partly because that is what I started shooting in. The 120 color negatives produce sharp colors and organic grains which is not possible to achieve digitally. I have experimented with B & W’s in 120mm film and I love the freedom it gives us while developing with respect to latitude. But with 35mm i am mostly stuck with color negatives because C-41 processing are found more commonly than E6 Slides and B&W films processing. There are very few skilled hand developers left around the country and none in my city. I might start experimenting more once I begin developing on my own, which will be very soon.
Madhana Gopal What camera makes you click?

My first film camera was a medium format Mamiya RB67 Pro S which I primarily use Indoors. I have a Pentax MX and a Pentax ME Super for 35mm photography. This is what I shoot street with. I had a Pentax digital camera and had already invested on lenses for it so the Pentax MX or the Pentax K1000 were my natural first choices. I chose the Pentax MX over the K1000 because it is a smaller camera and unobtrusive for my street and documentary work.

Between black and white and colour film which would you choose?

I haven't done much B&W work to be honest to give an answer to this for the obvious constraints I have mentioned above. I have just shot a couple of rolls of Ilford B&W 120mm film inside the studio for my portraiture work and I must say I would love to shoot more of it once I start developing on my own. So for now it would be color film.

What lenses do you use?

For my medium format I have the Mamiya-Sekor 90mm f3.8. For 35mm I have the 28mm f2.8, 40mm f2.8 & 50mm f1.4 K mount Pentax lenses

Do you make any experiments on film?

I am not sure If i can call it an experiment, it was just a serendipitous accident I had with shooting B&W 120mm film. I had shot a roll of Ilford 1600 iso film with an iso setting of 400 because my friend had accidentally changed the wrapper after grabbing a look. This I realized only after I shot the roll completely and was devastated knowing I had overexposed the film by few stops .So i wrote a letter along with the film rolls while sending it for developing stating that i shot it all wrong thinking nothing would turn up on my film. To my surprise a week later I got the rolls neatly recovered with the grains looking perfectly imperfect and beautiful. Film never ceases to surprises me.
Madhana Gopal Madhana Gopal Madhana Gopal Madhana Gopal Madhana Gopal Madhana Gopal

You can find Madhana Gopal here: