Life by the Bay Area on Film with @estellamoralopez

Youthful spirit radiates from Estella’s (@estellamoralopez) frames of the Bay Area. Photographs of people catching waves, dropping into half pipes, wandering through forests, and chasing sunsets followed by sunrises all fill up Estella’s growing collection of film photographs of the places that mean a lot to her.

Born and raised in a small town along the coast of West Marin, the 21-year-old shares that she had a childhood filled with creativity and artistry in all its forms. Having just finished her sophomore year at university as a photography student, Estella is eager to explore other forms of analogue photography this summer. With her past experiences working across 35 mm, 120, and super 8 film formats, Estella has developed a unique visual language. Her images prove that choosing film has the indelible ability to capture something that cannot ever be replicated or replaced.

Here, Estella shares her beginnings with the analogue medium, her creative inspirations, and the reasons that drive her to continue pursuing this visual craft.

Credits: estellamoralopez

Hi Estella! Welcome to Lomography Magazine! Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

I’m an artist and photographer living in West Marin. I attend California College of the Arts and am currently pursuing a degree in photography.

What is the creative and film photography scene like in West Marin?

Everyone in the community are artists of some kind. Surfers, musicians, painters, really anything and everything. I feel so fortunate to have been exposed to every medium at such a young age and I think that definitely shaped who I am as an artist today.

Credits: estellamoralopez

Going back to your earlier years with film photography, when were you first introduced to this analogue visual medium? Can you share with us your history with film photography?

For my 16th birthday, I got a digital Canon Rebel. At the time, I loved the camera but the photos always came out too perfect and clean, and that just wasn’t like me. I like a little mess in my life. So I started shooting film around 2019. My first film camera was a basic Canon AE-1. I loved this camera and wore it to death. I took it everywhere and shot everything, I just loved the feeling of it all. I’ve been shooting film ever since.

What film cameras do you currently own? Which of the film formats do you enjoy using the most?

I use a Yashica similar to a Yashica Viewfinder that I got at an antique fair for 20 dollars and a 120 Holga. I recently got into shooting on a Hasselblad I borrowed from school and it has quickly become my favorite. I like experimenting with different cameras and I don’t feel the need to get the most expensive perfect camera because I love the blur, shakey frames, and the slanted horizons. It gives it more character.

Credits: estellamoralopez

When did you first learn about Lomography?

My friend introduced me to Lomography during quarantine in 2020. I wanted a way to share my photos that wasn't just through social media. I didn't know how to make my own website so this felt perfect. I also love Lomography's black-and-white films. Many of my local camera stores carry Lomography film stocks so I've been able to experiment with some throughout the years.

"Another of my favorite photos is this one of my friends on Mt Tamalpais at sunset. It was late summer and we all drove up there on a whim, I took a lot of photos but a lot of them didn't turn out except for this one." - Estella Cruz Mora Lopez

What do you like best about film photography? What kind of moments and experiences do you enjoy photographing?

I love the feeling of film photography and capturing the imperfect moments. I am drawn to landscapes, friends, sunsets, and sunrises.

How would you describe your photographic style?

I've been told my work feels very nostalgic and youthful. Even though these places and people I'm shooting are unfamiliar to many, you feel a sense of familiarity through my work.

Credits: estellamoralopez

Youth culture is an overarching theme in your film photographs. Why do you find yourself gravitating more towards these motifs and visual elements?

Growing up none of us had phones, we always found ourselves doing things to keep ourselves busy. We’d call each other on the landline, everyone knew the last 4 digits of their numbers, mine was 2268.

"I constantly find myself going back to this photo, it feels like home, maybe it is my favorite." - Estella Cruz Mora Lopez

I'm 21 now and I miss those times more than ever. A lot of the people I photograph are friends I've had my whole life, friends I used to call on the landline. It's almost healing for me to continue to photograph these people and places that hold such importance in my life.

One of the albums on your LomoHome is entitled “Wedding at the End of the World”. Can you tell us more about this event? Why did you choose that specific title?

This was a wedding between Perry and our good family friend Mirta. The whole community showed up. The location on the invitation being the “end of the world.” I've called it this my whole life, it's a bluff at the end of a long dirt road that overlooks the ocean and feels like you're standing at the edge of the world, everyone knows it by that name. I took photographs all day until the sunset and we all walked home.

Credits: estellamoralopez

What role does color play in your photography?

I love color. When I first started shooting film I only shot black and white, I liked it and still do, but not as much as color. There are so many different color films that produce such different-looking photos and I really like being able to experiment with them all.

I didn't start editing my photos until I got to college. Most of the older photos on my Lomography are unedited. I tread pretty lightly when editing, sometimes only adjusting the colors and exposure/contrast.

You’ve shared that you have printed your 120 photographs on fiber print. What was the experience like? Why is it important for you to print your analogue photographs?

My first photography class I ever took was "Tools 1," where we learned how to develop our own film and print in the darkroom. I'm not exactly a patient person so this was honestly pretty challenging for me. I eventually got the hang of things and really started enjoying printing. It's a rewarding process. I think my favorite part is being able to make minor changes that really elevate the whole print. Also fiber paper is a beautiful paper, it produces really deep dark blacks that, in my opinion, you can't get with online editing software.

Credits: estellamoralopez

You also have an album of photos from your TinType photography photographs. Was this your first time testing out this analogue technique?

Yes! My mom took the class before me and she thought I would really like it, so I took it. The tintype process is so fun. It’s long, but super cool. It’s a really delicate process and the plate the photo gets printed on is very easy to scratch, so patience is key during development. The camera itself is similar to a large format camera, but there's a lot more steps to make the photograph appear on the plate. I would definitely recommend trying tintype out, the results are beautiful.

Credits: estellamoralopez

Who are your favorite film photographers who have been invaluable in your analogue journey?

Olivia Bee. She's one of the first young female photographers' work I saw and instantly resonated with it. There's a feeling in all her photographs and I think as a photographer I strive to evoke feelings through my work. Her work made me start to love my “imperfect” shots.

What other film formats, cameras, and stocks are you looking to try out next?

I want to try it all. Medium format is definitely my favorite at the moment, I love a good square photo. I want to try out the LomoChrome Turquoise and Metropolis. The LomoKino also looks so fun. I'm hoping to experiment more with video this summer too.

Anything else you’d like to share with the Lomography community?

Just go with the flow. Don't force anything. I think the whole point of film is to be patient and accept that not every shot is going to be perfect, that's the fun part.

Credits: estellamoralopez

Thank you to Estella for sharing her growing analogue photo collection and film journey with us! See more of her film photographs over at her LomoHome and on Instagram.

written by macasaett on 2024-06-15 #people #places #university #medium-format #120 #bay-area #35-mm #photography-student #northern-california #tintype #lomochrome-turquoise #lomochrome-metropolis

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