Sofia Padilla is a storyteller, all-around creative and founder behind Fiasfud and the soon to open Ani cafe. She uses food and film as mediums to express her curiosity and creativity for the natural world, advocate for our fisherfolk, coastal communities, and marine biodiversity, which then all brings people together to foster a loving community that puts sustainability at the forefront.
Collaboration and the integration of a variety of practices and disciplines is at the heart of Sofia’s works. She opens herself up to the world and does whatever she can to help it thrive in any way possible. In this interview with Sofia, we learn more about her advocacies, early years with film photography, and how her relationship with the medium has grown over time.
Hi Sofia! Welcome to Lomography Magazine! Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Hi! I’m Sofia. I’m a curious enthusiast for things like nature, food, adventure, and art. I enjoy telling stories about our world, biking with friends, visiting the palengke, and cooking food for the people I love.
I am a working student managing both my small food business called Fiasfud and taking my Masters degree in Entrepreneurship. But most of the time, I am just trying to live as authentically as I can and figuring things out along the way.
What’s been on your mind lately? What are you curious about?
I am trying to find my balance in creativity and work at the same time. To be honest, it is really hard because it's about knowing yourself in terms of your needs, how much work to put in, and how to balance it out with the other things you want to do given a limited time.
I am also trying to figure out how to be authentic, honest, and creative in all the things that I do. At the same time, I really want to push experimentation in food and be more involved in social causes that mean a lot to me. It’s really about living a meaningful life.
What are your earliest memories with analogue photography?
One of my earliest moments with analogue photography was in 2016, my freshman year in college. My best friend was into film cameras and out of curiosity, I tried to get my hands on a point-and-shoot. I really enjoyed film photography for its philosophy of slowness and really crafting the shot. I was already into digital photography, so jumping into film allowed me to be more selective with my pictures. I also enjoyed the film stocks such as C200, Lomo 400, Portra, and Kodak Gold. At this time, I was using mostly a P&S for its compactness.
I remember the first roll I shot, which was my family’s trip to Japan and to Batangas. I liked how the colors came out. I love how it captured memories that are so dear to me. I remember capturing a picture of my sister jumping into the sea. The color of the water was aqua; far from the deep sea blue our eyes could perceive. It made the moment look even more magical than it already was.
When I was in college, my best friends and I joined a corporate FMCG competition. We got into the finals round, however, our idea didn't bag first place. To our dismay, the FMCG used our idea without crediting us, which left us feeling really sad. As a way to bounce back and find happiness, we decided to just chill out, hang out, and enjoy film photography as our coping mechanism. This eventually led us to starting our film business.
To be honest, we did not really think much about the money; we just wanted an excuse to test and hold different film cameras and eventually sell them! It was a really fun experience since we got to meet different people and engage with the film community early on. Managing HappySnaps was one of the ways we enjoyed our time together as friends; we enjoyed trying out different films, talking about photography, and sharing them with others.
Fiasfilm on the other hand was my film account. I wanted a place to upload all my photos so I could go back and look at them from time to time. I really enjoyed taking photos because of the intentionality and creativity of it. I wanted to capture memories shared, portraits of people, and the great outdoors.
Can you walk us through your current film camera collection and favorite film stocks you opt to use for different occasions, adventures and experiences?
I currently own 3 cameras: my Nikon FE, Canon AF35ML, and my Nikonos V. I mostly use my Nikon FE for land use and my Nikonos V for underwater use. I try my best to limit my camera body collection so that I can maximize my cameras and I invest more on the lenses.
When I shoot underwater, I enjoy using film that's ISO 400 and above. But really, I choose the film based on the ISO conditions because I shoot mostly outdoors. As for the colors, I try to experiment on different film stocks to elicit the mood I want.
What about film photography compels you to go out and shoot?
I enjoy film photography because it allows me to express myself as a creative. I am a very visual person and I love embracing the emotions caught on a photo. Since my camera bodies are mostly film, this is my go-to for photography. I also find myself shooting away and finishing up to two rolls a day if I get really engrossed.
But more often than not, I try to live a life filled with excitement and curiosity. By bringing my film camera, it allows me to share the experience with other people and for me to look back at it. I enjoy taking portraits of people so I can make prints and everything! So I can also give people copies with a handwritten note at the back!
My favorite subject to shoot with my film camera is marine life and recently, portraiture. I enjoy shooting marine life because:
1) It brings the ocean to my eyes wherever I am.
2) I do not have a digital underwater camera.
3) It allows me to live my National Geographic explorer like dreams.
4) It challenges the idea of macro marine photography having a certain digital look and makes it look “dreamy artsy.”
The photos you’ve shared on fiasfilm document your trips, ranging from the mountains all the way to our oceans. How does being outside nurture your practice in the kitchen and beyond – the ways in which you connect with your customers, community members, and friends?
Being outdoors is my happy place. I find my inspiration and peace when I am by the mountains, seas, and trees. Being in the province also allows me to slow down, introspect, and reflect on the things I value. It allows me to stretch my arms outside and run great lengths. It also enables me to connect with the communities outside the city, with different stories and perspectives to share.
Film photography is my means to take home a piece of what I learn from what is around me and share them with others back home.
I personally do not see film as a means to make money or make advances; it is my medium to create and express.
Community and circularity are at the core of everything you do, and how you try to be intentional, thoughtful, and purposeful every step of the way. You have also integrated your sense of adventure with your passion for cooking and advocacy for marine life conservation and food security, which has then materialized into what Fiasfud, Naturesfolk, and Ani cafe is today. Why is this way of doing things important to you?
I believe we have one life and it is something that we should live as authentically as we can. I also embrace my philosophy of compassion and finding its intersection in the many things that we do. If we can find gaps in the world around us, we can connect them and this allows us to solve problems and also share things with others.
I just personally believe in being kind to others and to the environment around us, since there is a bigger world out there yet to be explored.
What dishes are you looking forward to making this September? What film camera and stock would you use to document it?
I am looking forward to making more summer salads, summer noodles, and refreshing seafood dishes! I am not quite sure what it is yet, but whatever is in season will do! I really love acidity. So hopefully I will have a lot of limes and citruses to work with.
I would probably use my Nikon FE or borrow my friend’s Pentax 635 since I LOVE the look of medium format cameras. But lets hope I have the energy to clean my hands after I cook so I can take pictures.
Anything you’d like to share with the Lomography community?
Just enjoy the process and don't let the technicalities stop you from doing so. Document moments in any way you can because it is also something worth looking back to!
Thank you to Sofia for sharing her photos, thoughts, and stories on analogue photography with us. View her growing collection of film photos on Instagram and make sure to check out Fiasfud, NATURESFOLK, and the soon to open Ani cafe.