Alfonso Aguilar on Cinematic Photography


Photographer and filmmaker Alfonso Aguilar go all around with various photographic mediums. After all, photography is about the artist, not the gear itself. However, the artist does have a soft spot for the distinct analogue look.

Hood, JH, Pug walk

Growing up as part of the film generation and living with a family that encouraged the use of cameras and photography, it was natural from the very start for Alfonso to fall in love with photography himself. His mother always brought a camera with her, and would constantly take images. Alfonso set his own path by going to film school. At the time, he believed he was part of the last generations that used film. He also used film – both in 35 mm and 16 mm – during his first few years as a cinematographer, just before the digital revolution began.

In turn, Alfonso adapted to the times and started to learn digital techniques as well, eventually becoming his sole creative communication at one point in time. It was an inevitable farewell to film. However, Alfonso would experience a rekindling of the analogue medium soon enough. Having moved to a different place, Alfonso opened a box that has been in his garage for several years – and in it were his film cameras. The first one he touched after several years was his Land Polaroid 195, and having learned that the pack film has been discontinued, he got himself a Lomo'Instant Wide and bought a couple of black-and-white and color Instax Wide films. He said: “ From that moment my film thought process kicked in once again. Then I researched again to find a good film developing lab, bought some medium format film and started shooting.”

FS29, Ens Window, Heist

The artist quickly realized the difference that both mediums do to his routine:

“When I use a digital camera, I focus my attention on what I am presently seeing with my naked eye and then through the finder. Then I press the shutter many times and see the screen to asses and judge what I shot if I’m not satisfied I make adjustments and shoot many photos again. With film, I focus on how I want the end result to look while taking into consideration every variant such as light, iso, composition, etc… Then I make adjustments in situ and when I feel ready I press the shutter once. If the focus is critical then I take another photo and I move on. At the end of the day, I end up with what I hope is one or two photos that I love or I miss and learn from mistakes. I love that process.”
FS5, Vail25,Salt Lake, Raining, Nora 2

Most of Alfonso's film photography consists of aesthetics that is distinctly analogue. Sprocket holes, burnt sides, the unique film grain that pixel won't ever match with. Some of his favorite emulsions include the Ilford Delta 5, the Lomography Color Negative 800, Rollei Crossbird 200, Fuji Velvia 50, Fuji Superia 800, and Kodak Goldmax, best paired with his Pentax 67ii with a 50 mm or 28 mm lens attached. He also made several short films and ads in analogue. Alfonso shared his old projects no longer pass the commercial quality of today, but both Coppel and Matchbox, an ad, throw us back to the old days. Both were shot in 35 mm.

When finally making his photographs, Alfonso would first ensure he's at the right mindset. Meditating helps him pay more attention to his surroundings. To take one photograph a day is part of his routine:

“Because of my background I tend to compose in landscape first. I feel it is a more natural composition because we look left and right way more than up and down. But now that we touched the subject, it should be a fun exercise to shoot a roll framing for portrait composition, I shall try it soon... When I have the time to make a photo I like to focus on my subject and walk around it to get a better sense of its depth and look for its best angle. I always bring a camera with me (either film or digital) everywhere I go and at the very least take one photo a day. The only way to become a better photographer is through consistency. The more you shoot, the better photos you will take.”

As of now, Alfonso's busying himself with an urban fashion photography project, to be shot during the evening at downtown L.A. – and so it continues, Alfonso's signature in making every photograph he takes look straight out of a movie.

Sta. Fe, Heist, Marquis, Plane Red 2G, Vail 21, Imperial Beach

Images are courtesy of Alfonso Aguilar. For more of Alfonso's works, visit his Vimeo, Instagram and film portfolio.

written by cielsan on 2019-04-08 #people #film-photography #alfonso-aguilar


  1. devic
    devic ·

    these are amazing! great interview

  2. cheeo
    cheeo ·

    Digging the photos and interview style. Great work, Alfonso and @cielsan!

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