Roman Pido and Johann Espiritu of Manila Camera Style share the story behind their humble photography project, which features conversations about film and film cameras among analogue photography enthusiasts in the Philippines.
Tell us something about the founders of Manila Camera Style.
Roman: I’m relatively a newbie to photography, having started only in early 2008. Went with the typical tool for starters, an entry-level DSLR (Nikon D40) to be exact. Took a photography class to better understand photography. I then discovered film photography late 2009 when I dug up a old Canon 7 that belonged to my wife’s granddad. I immediately fell in love with it.
It should also be mentioned that Johann (who’s married to my cousin), started me into photography. In fact, he was the teacher in my photography class.
Johann: I have been into photography for over sixteen years. My background before that was painting, which had to take a backseat when I entered law school because the latter took most of my time. To get my “visual art fix”, I picked up a camera, and have been shooting ever since.
So as you guessed, I am a lawyer, licensed to practice in three continents (yup – what a nerd!). I am also involved with the Silverlens gallery as an artist working with darkroom photography. I’ve had two major art shows, and my work has been collected internationally. As Roman mentioned, I am also part of the education programs of the gallery, focusing on creating and appreciating photographs.
How and when did Manila Camera Style begin?
R: It was November 2009. Having shifted to film photography, Johann suggested to me a site to frequent because they feature a whole lot of film cameras. We toyed with the idea of starting one here and decided hell, maybe we should. So I went ahead and contacted John Sypal (owner of Tokyo Camera Style) and asked permission to copy the format. Of course he agreed so we did.
The first part of MCS was the same format as Tokyo Camera Style, until we decided to make it more interactive, intimate, allowing the owners to share stories about their film cameras. We’ve preferred this format because it’s a wonder to read the different stories that our readers share.
We’ve maintained this format since.
Where in Manila (or the Philippines) do you usually haunt for film camera enthusiasts?
R: The first place that comes to mind is still Hidalgo in Quiapo, Manila. The fact they the biggest selection of pre-owned film cameras attracts the enthusiasts to frequently window shop there (like me and Johann).
J: I usually just go up to people using film cameras and ask them about it. Lately, it’s been great that most of those I talk to have heard of manilacamerastyle, which makes conversation with a stranger (me, that is) much more comfortable. It’s nice to know people go and read our little project!
Various film cameras have been featured on your project already, which is the most memorable to date?
R: Wow. That’s a toughie. Personally, and I’m going to go a little selfish here, I’d say my Leica M7 (it’s my first Leica, you see).
J: This is my favorite post by far.
As advocates of film photography, how would Manila Camera Style influence and inspire more Manileños (and Filipinos, in general) to go back and take part in the analogue movement?
R: Personally, I’d make them realize the beauty and art of film photography. I’d argue with anyone that a film photo will trump any printed photo taken with whatever digital camera.
J: Aside from the aesthetic of shooting film, and the intimacy you have with photography when not “chimping” after every shot, it is precisely the length of time and patience that makes it worthwhile.
Think about it – in everything we do today we are in such a hurry: work gets to us instantly via blackberry, we get our news pushed to our mobile phones, and all deadlines are tight and overdue. For something that we enjoy so much (photography), we shouldn’t be in a rush to get it done ASAP. We should savor each photo as we take them, and enjoy the time in between the shot and waiting for us to see the image, then again enjoy the time in between moving from the negative to the final print. Even better, enjoy the long but romantic process that is developing film and printing photos. It’s like extending a triumphant moment from a brief moment into days and weeks. No need to rush through it!
And the best part, finally getting those contact prints – it’s like Christmas morning every time!
- Visit manilacamerastyle.com.