Victor Kravchenko, a.k.a. wsnake, is a Belarus-born film photographer currently based in Amsterdam, shooting mainly cityscapes and landscapes on medium format. We sent Victor a roll of LomoChrome Color '92 120 film and spoke with him about his analogue journey and his experience shooting with our newest film!
Hi Victor! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with film photography?
Hi there! Sure thing. I'm from Belarus, but for the last eight years I've made the Netherlands my home. In my previous life I was a portrait and wedding photographer. Now I've “retired” from commercial photography and focused on lifestyle photography. From time to time i'm trying to make videos for my YT channel snakeytales.
My start into film photography began much like it did for many kids in the former USSR — by watching my dad develop photos in our bathroom-turned-darkroom. He had a Zenit TTL, a camera that cost more than his monthly salary back then. Meanwhile, several years later, I started with a simple, family-shared point-and-shoot Samsung (we call such cameras “soap box”).
As I got older, digital cameras took over and film photography took a back seat. Then in university, while starting a photography business, I couldn't afford the latest gear, so I experimented with old M42 lenses on my Nikon D70s. I later found my dad's old Zenit, loaded it with some Ilford film and was blown away by the photos. They had a look I couldn't get with digital, but I still had to go full-frame DSLR for my work, so film was just for fun.
Moving to the Netherlands coincided with a burnout from shooting portraits and weddings (over 200 weddings in nine years which is not much, but a lot for me). I quit commercial photography and even stopped taking pictures for a while. I missed it though. I tried different small point-and-shoot digital cameras, iPhones, etc., but nothing stuck. It wasn't until I got back into film that I found my passion again. I've got more stories, but let's save those for another time. So, here I am.
How did you find shooting with the LomoChrome Color ‘92?
It was a great experience! The colors tend to be on the cooler side, but what I really love is how the overall effect reminds me of pastel watercolor paintings. It's hard to put into words, but that's the vibe it gives me.
I've only used the 120 version, not 135, and the dynamic range is impressive — it's very forgiving! It's bailed me out a few times when I've forgotten to adjust the EV after backlit shots.
I do wish I was in Paris or somewhere in Italy, capturing photos with more sun and vibrant colors, but I'm making the most of what I have. It is what it is, right?
What do you look for when you’re taking photographs? What attracts you?
It depends. But the first thing that always catches my eye, regardless of the scene or subject, is how light plays across it. Light can completely transform something familiar into the unrecognizable depending on its angle or intensity.
In the fall and winter, here in the Netherlands, we aren’t blessed with all-day sunshine, so I start to search for shapes, patterns, and interesting color compositions, or simply for some street style stories to capture.
Interestingly, when I’m shooting in black and white, my perspective shifts. I become more focused on forms, shapes, contrasts, etc. It’s a different mindset, and I’m still figuring out how that switch happens, but the approach is distinctly different.
You shoot both 35 mm and 120 format. How do they differ, and which do you personally prefer?
My partner has a Mamiya RZ67 she uses in the studio, and I handle the developing and scanning. The results with 120 film blew me away — hardly any grain, a unique way of medium format rendering, and that irreplaceable film color. That's what drew me to medium format, so I got a Mamiya 645pro. It's smaller in size, lighter but “only” 6x4,5. Anyways, I'm really happy with it.
Talking about differences, I tend to always carry around a compact point-and-shoot 35 mm camera because they're light and don't take up much space. But for times when I want more control, like choosing different focal lengths or precise metering, I have to decide between one of my 35 mm SLRs or the Mamiya 645. I usually lean towards the 120 because I don't take many duplicates. And I'm quite impatient: knowing I have only 15 frames that I can develop quickly is often the deciding factor to choose 120 over 35 mm for a more deliberate shoot.
And of course the larger negative size of the 120 film means a less grainy picture with more room for post-production if necessary. In the age of Instagram sharing this often doesn't matter, but just knowing I have those extra capabilities brings me joy as well.
What does your photographic process look like? Do you have a specific set-up and mode of working?
It's pretty straightforward, much like Monterey Jack's reaction to cheese in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers — “Cheeeeeeese!” I see beautiful light and I'm out the door chasing it for the interesting shot.
Where do you draw inspiration for your images?
That’s a really good question! To keep it short, I tend to avoid looking at photos within the same genre I'm currently working in. Instead, I find inspiration in entirely different areas. For instance, although I'm currently focused on cityscapes and landscapes, my Instagram feed is full of fashion and portrait photographers, makeup artists, and stylists.
This means that if I pivot back to portrait photography one day, I’ll stop checking out other photographers' work. I find that this helps me avoid unnecessary comparisons or the temptation to mimic someone else's style. It keeps me from getting sidetracked and allows me to focus on what I truly want to create.
Do you have any favourite images from this shoot?
I'm fond of the café shot because it stands out with its exotic vibe among Amsterdam's gingerbread-like canal houses. The empty chairs hint at the chill in the air so no one's sitting outside. And that cooler tone from the LomoChrome Color '92 — it just nails that autumn mood.
The bridge shot is a whole different vibe from the cafe — here it's all about the sharp urban lines and those pops of red from the barrier, all set against a cool, bluish backdrop of the city's architecture. I'm really drawn to how the light and shadows carve out the bridge in the foreground from the buildings behind, leaving room for that bright barrier to take center stage. Plus, that little tram caught in motion adds just the right dash of life to an otherwise still scene.
Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to share with the community?
I’m heading to New York very soon so hopefully going to spend couple of days on walking around and making photos there on 35 mm.