Nostalgia plays a pivotal role in many young people's drive to pursue film photography as a craft. It's no different for Estonian architecture student Martin Sepp (@sepamart), who was inspired by childhood memories immortalized through film images.
Now film has become a valued hobby for him as he studies architecture. In this interview, he shares his background and journey with film photography so far.
Hi, Martin! Welcome to the magazine. Can you start off by telling us about yourself?
My name is Martin, I am a 24-year-old architecture student from Tallinn, Estonia, but currently I am doing exchange studies in Vienna.
How did you get started with film photography and why do you still choose to shoot analogue now?
At first, I picked up analogue photography for the nostalgia aspect of it. I remember my mom following me and my sister with a point-and-shoot and making photo albums when I was little. It was all a delight. I wanted to get the same feeling again during high school, so I turned to simple point-and-shoots and shared the pictures with my friends.
About a year ago, I once again got this obsession with film and went out and bought a couple of proper cameras, to have more creative options. I choose to still shoot analogue because I feel the pictures mean more, with it being a physical medium and not seeing the result instantly. I romanticize the whole process, with the anticipation and never being fully in control of the end result.
What is it like being a film photographer in Estonia? Would you say it's accessible and is there a film community you hang out with?
I think as in most of the world, there is this big rise in film photography in Estonia as well. Mostly point-and-shoot, in the moment sort of photography, which is how I also started. But there are also quite a few enthusiasts that I know who shoot on film and develop the film themselves. It is of course quite expensive to shoot on film as there is always a shortage of it.
I have a group of friends from architecture who also shoot on film and with whom I share my work, before posting it elsewhere. From them I also learned a lot about equipment and developing black and white film myself.
Are there similarities between the way you approach architecture and film photography?
I think I try to find the same things in my photos and architecture, such as textures, patterns and details, but also photography has made me look at architecture from a different angle. While taking photos of architecture, I sometimes try to capture the more abstract compositions or dramatize some details with a weird angle or a very cropped perspective.
It has made me more subjective in approaching architecture and not being perhaps overly rational, which I feel is what a lot of architecture photography can be. It is of course not a bad thing. Taking objective, true to reality pictures of architecture is often necessary for representation, but I feel a creative take on it is more fun.
What’s your current gear composed of? And what are your favorite film stocks or cameras to take when you go out to shoot?
I actually have a rather bare bones setup at the moment, because I like to not have too many options, but rather be the master of one or two camera systems and focus more on the photos than choosing gear. So right now I mostly take pictures on my Minolta SRT 100X, which is all manual, so I can rely on the electronics not breaking anytime soon.
The first camera I started with though was an Olympus Pen EE, which takes 72 pictures on one roll and allowed me to really go crazy and shoot anything, but it was still quite a restrictive camera and not the best for point-and-shoot stuff, since it doesn't perform too well in low light. So for point-and-shoot, I now have an Olympus Shoot and Go, which is mostly for nostalgia photos. And I dabble a bit in medium format with a really old Rolleiflex Old Standard from the 1930s.
For film, I am still experimenting with anything that I can get my hands on, but there are a few favorites that I have gained. For black and white, I really liked the crispness and contrast of Ilford XP2 400. I used to shoot a lot of Fomapan stock, since it is quite cheap and easy to develop at home, but I got tired of the grain.
For color, right now I like Fuji 200 a lot for the greens and blues, but I feel I could really like Kodak Portra as well, if I could get my hands on some.
Do you have a favorite among your photos and can you tell us about it?
You know the funny thing with that is, the photos that I like the most myself are the least popular on the internet. But I would say, I really like some in the moment rough photos that have a lot of emotion in them, or have a really interesting, perhaps a bit unexpected quality to them. My current favorite would have to be this one.
It has cool patterns, a nice touch of color. It feels like a still from a movie from Wes Anderson. I didn't think too much when I took it. I was just waiting for a train in Almere and got the urge to take a photo. And it turned out great.
Are there any film-related projects you'd like to try out in the future?
I am actually quite fascinated by some of the Lomography stocks that are stylized, like the LomoChrome Metropolis or the LomoChrome Color '92, which give a different feeling without needing to do editing on the photos themselves. A bit unexpected results to be found there I feel.
At some point I also want to try trichroming, but I need to update my filter collection for that. I feel like playing around with the different color channels has some hidden potential for me.
We'd like to thank Martin for sharing his images and stories with us! To keep in touch, visit his LomoHome.