Today is the beginning of a new Feature here on CP. It’s called Featured Photophile, and here we’ll showcase the photography of a talented amateur shooter, and give that person the opportunity to discuss all things photography. From their favored gear to their photographic philosophy, we’ll get to know the How, When, Where, and Why behind their photographs.
Today’s featured guest is a young photophile from Switzerland, named Luca Ellena. His stark and understated photos show an impressive reservation and an atypical view of some commonly shot landscapes. For full details, see our conversation below.
[All images used with permission – visit Luca’s website for more]
Hi Luca. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello there! I am Luca, 19 years old from Switzerland. I work at a school for children with special needs and take photographs after work, during lunch break, or on various trips. My current project, “Nature, Grain and Simplicity”, is a project focusing on symmetric and minimalist nature images that show a lot of contrast. With this project I wanted to create an antipole to regular landscape shots which are taken with modern DSLR. Those pictures seem very sterile and clean to me. I wanted to create pictures which are imperfect, with much grain and exaggerated colors. Most of the pictures were taken in the Swiss Prealps near my hometown, and during the project I realized how many beautiful spots exist in my surroundings.
When did you start shooting? What’s your favorite camera? What type of film do you use?
I first experienced film photography about 2 years ago, and have been using film on a regular basis for about a year now. I shot my first roll of film in summer 2014 when I went to the United States for half a year and took a photography class. Even though I had a lot of fun taking the pictures, developing the negatives, and making prints, I did not continue with film photography when I came home to Switzerland. I felt like it was too much of an effort without a darkroom. After some time though, I decided to give it a try again and bought an Olympus OM2n with a 50mm f1.8. Some months after that I also bought an Olympus 35RC. This rangefinder is very small and is perfect when going on trips. I now use both cameras regularly and love the aesthetics and handling of both, so I would say these are my favorites. I experiment with different types of film, but definitely shoot mostly with Fuji Superia 400 and Kodacolor 200.
What are your favorite subjects, and why?
That is a really hard question – I cannot give a proper answer. However, within the current project I am a bit obsessed with simple shots of the sky and gras in the foreground (like this one: http://www.lucaellena.com/nature-grain-and- simplicity?lightbox=dataItem-iqoaxutv). Generally speaking, I like photographs which are minimalistic, symmetrical and have strong colors.
Why do you shoot film? Do you also shoot digital? What do you think about the argument between film and digital?
I shoot film because the photos have a different look if you compare them to digital images – the grain is just beautiful, and the colors are more vivid. Besides that, I also shoot film for my personal satisfaction. I enjoy the process of taking images and thinking about each and every frame, as I only have 36 possibilities. It calms me down in a world full of hurry and stress. After that I also like developing the negatives, experimenting with different developing times, and scanning the final results. If by chance I get one nice image out of one or two rolls, I am always happy and satisfied because I know that I had to invest some time to get to the result. That being said I have to admit that I also shoot digital. In fact, for some projects like my city series, I only use my digital camera.
I do not understand why so many people fight over the question whether film or digital is “better”. At the end of the day, film and digital are just different methods of making an image. What matters more is the process of actually taking a photo – thinking about the frame, composition, light, meaning, or message behind a photograph. And all that is done by the photographer himself, not the camera he uses.
What is unique about your work?
Honestly, I don‘t know. If there is anything unique about my work, the question should be answered by other people. I am just a regular dude who likes taking photographs and realizing ideas or projects.
How do you achieve your results?
It is often recommended that we should slightly over-expose negative film because that can save highlights without losing details in the shadows. I usually try not to over-expose the film at all, and rather under-expose the frame a little bit and then leave it around 15-20 seconds longer in the developing chemistry. It is not proven, but in my opinion the graininess and contrast of the image will be a little higher. Also, I usually take photos in only very good lightning conditions, but I guess most photographers try to find the best light. What I do not like at all is when the sky shows no detail (unless I’m shooting portraiture). I do not use filters or equipment other than the camera body and lens.
Where do you hope your photography goes from here?
I would love to set up an exhibition sometime in the future. Apart from that, I just want to follow my passion for photography and continue with my projects.
Do you have any advice for new photographers?
Have a look at the work of great photographers and try to get some inspiration from them. In addition to that, think about your own photography and develop your own ideas and projects. I also have a small notebook on me where I can write down my ideas or thoughts whenever something comes to my mind (of course, you can just use your phone for that). Other than that, just have fun with what you are doing and stay passionate about it.
Many thanks to Luca for sharing his beautiful, minimalist landscapes, even if it causes my wanderlust to act up.
If you’d like to see your photography featured on Casual Photophile, send a message to email@example.com, or leave a comment below and we’ll get in touch.