Forging Friendships Thru Film: An Interview with 'Film Based Traveler' Blog Creator Nicole Yeoh

Nicole Yeoh runs Singapore-based blog Film Based Traveler where she writes about photo-walks and make great friends through film photography. We had a quick chat with her about her loyalty to film.

© Nicole Yeoh: Contax TVS, Lomography Color Negative 100

Tell us more about how your journey as a photographer started.

I have always been into photography even since I turned 14. I never realised that I had genuine interest in it and it was my friend, Adhianto who really inspired me to start taking photography seriously. My father observed my passion for photography and he gifted me my first ever DSLR which was a Nikon D3100. Ever since, photography has become a part of me. Nowadays, I mainly shoot in film format.

What/Who are the biggest influences in your craft?

I started doing street photography at a time when it was not as trendy as now. Every person in this world has a story to tell. The ability of photos to capture the subtle emotions of somebody’s life have been very influential in my craft. Most of my work features people who are elderly and frail. Their stories and experiences fascinate me. And I believe I can perhaps play a small part by raising awareness that these people should not be forgotten in developed country like Singapore.

© Nicole Yeoh, L-R: Leica M6, Fujicolor Industrial 400; Contax TVS, Lomography Color Negative 100; Nikon FM2, Fuji Film Pro 400

How would you describe your style as a photographer?

I would describe my style as casual and discreet, capturing the candid way of life.

Why choose film?

I love the kind of ‘texture’ only film format can offer. It gives me great pleasure to go through the entire physical process from the moment you click the shutter, to the process of developing and finally holding and seeing your art work. Lastly, it also feels like receiving a birthday present every time you collect your results from the lab.

Any tips on how to develop your skills and keen eye as a photographer?

Very often, people, including myself, are into camera gears instead of focusing on making photos. After being messed up pursuing gear after gear, I learnt that it’s really important to understand your gear well. Otherwise, you will spend half the time trying to get used to the new camera or lenses. It’s only after you understand your camera, you will be able to make full use of its potential to capture great photos. On the other hand, your aesthetic vision will come along as you study the great work of art by many brilliant photographers and by constantly reflecting on your own work.

© Nicole Yeoh, L-R: Rollei B35, Kodak Ultra Max 400; Rolleiflex 2.8D, Fujifilm Pro 400; Leica M6, Walgreens 200

Tell us more about the photowalks you experience. Any memorable stories you would like to share?

One very memorable story happened during a photowalk organised by my friend around Tiong Bahru in Singapore. I was using a Rolleiflex Twins Lens Reflex (TLR) that day. We spotted an elderly man in his 80s taking a stroll. Instantly, we just started taking pictures of him and trying our best to be discreet but he still noticed us. That’s when he saw my Rolleiflex and he opened a friendly conversation. He told us that he loved photography when he was a young man and he had used a Yashica D TLR.

Since he was so kind to pose for us, the only thing we could do in return was to send him printed copies of his portraits. Although he wasn’t at home when I dropped by to give him the photos, his wife who received them on his behalf was very happy with the gesture. I was overjoyed that I could brighten someone else’s day with my work.

I really encourage everyone to try their best to send prints back to their subjects! You would never know it could be their best portraits in a long time.

© Nicole Yeoh, Rolleiflex 2.8D, Fujifilm Pro 400

Do you have ongoing or upcoming projects that you would like to tell the community about?

My ongoing project is to document places I live and travel to. Another ongoing-life-long project would be to document my family, friends and my cat.

I would also love to document vehicles in the future. Who knows how cars would have transformed in the next 100 years?

© Nicole Yeoh; Leica M6, JCH Street Pan 400

To see more of Nicole's work, visit her film photography blog and follow her on Instagram - @filmbasedtraveler.

written by crissyrobles on 2017-07-20

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