One more second and I almost

Alright! Time to get this blog back on track. Lets start by posting some digitals, that’s been a while. I really have a strange relationship with digital ever since I started shooting film. As I said before, it’s so clean, perfect – too perfect. Film just feels more ‘real’ to me. As if it is more capable of capturing true emotion.

But I admit: this may also have to do with how my shooting style changes. When I shoot film, I take it slowly, look down in the camera from a distance, try and get everything perfect – composition, light, the model’s pose and expression; while with digital I shoot more rapidly, trying to catch the perfect moment as it passes by. A film shot is more controlled, more thought over, but also more intense and perhaps therefor harder on the model because it takes a while before I ‘make’ the shot.

And perhaps that is it. I ‘make’ film photos, and I ‘take’ digitals. Sometimes digital can catch a moment I couldn’t have gotten on film. Just the littlest smile, a sudden glisten in the eyes – I could miss all these things looking down into the focussing screen of the mamiya trying to fix the composition. You cannot recreate these little moments. They float by and if you don’t grab them, they’re gone forever.

But both film and digital have their own moments. The trick is learning from their differences and trying to balance taking and making in order to create ‘le moment suprême’. The one split second we’re all waiting for. For everything to just fall into place.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for tonight. I have a feeling this probably won’t make any sense anymore in the morning so… Here are some photos of Charlotte to wish you goodnight.

Model: Charlotte @ Jill Models
MUA: Kathleen Van Walle
© Els Vanopstal

Growing old before your time

I miss this place. So peaceful, calm, wonderful. I find myself drawn to lakes all over the world. I can imagine myself sitting there, reading a book, writing in my notebook, taking pictures. Wading through the water. Watching fish swim around my feet. Will I ever go back to this one? I don’t know. There are still so many other places to visit, to explore. The heart always asks for more. More of this.

Lake Bohinj
© Els Vanopstal

And a happy new year

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you have made it to 2012 and you probably will continue to live in this wonderful world until the apocalypse takes us all down in December. But not to worry! December is still a lifetime away. To make it all worth our while though, we better make some good old resolutions. Here are mine:

  • Shoot more men (I think I have shot in total 2 men in 2011, so I’ll have to photograph at least 3 men in 2012.)
  • Practise my French (Voulez-vous parler avec moi?)
  • Make more environmental portraits (Like, you know, people in uh.. Environments and stuff)
  • Swim in a lake (Any lake)
  • Move (To another city)
  • At least do one photoshoot using a 4×5 camera (Don’t know where I’m going to get it yet, but must. Must.)
  • Travel as much as I can (On the wishlist: France (Paris), Spain (Barcelona), Slovenia)
  • Eat more soup (CatSup not included)
  • Read at least one book per month (Jan (The People Look Like Flowers At Last) – Febr (Post Office) – Mar (Norwegian Wood) – April – May – June – July – Aug – Sept – Oct – Nov – Dec).
  • Try to make some self portraits again (They are very therapeutic for people who might otherwise need therapy)
  • Write much much much more (Keep in mind Bukowski: “Maybe I’ll write a novel, I thought. And then I did.”)
  • Buy a 2012 agenda (I’d put it in my agenda but I’m currently out)

Celebrate good times, come on

I just realized today that I have been shooting film for about one year now! My first film anniversary, I’m so excited! Somebody bring me cake, quick! Anyways, I’ll try to contain myself a little and go over the process I’ve been through the last year.

October 2010: I asked my boyfriend Christophe if I could try out his Mamiya C33, an old twin lens reflex camera. He said yes (a decision he perhaps later regretted as he will have to pull it out of my cold dead hands if he wants it back), so we went to the store where we received two black and white film rolls for free, as they were expired and they no longer sold any other film. A little bit later we took a walk around the pond at my hometown, where I took – amongst a few others – the following photo.

The first times it was very strange for me, because first of all, you are not standing behind the camera, you are looking down into it. Also, the view you see, is reversed, so everything that appears to be on the right side, is actually on the left! This took some adjusting, especially when I was trying to compose my image, but also when I was directing models. I sometimes asked them to look into a certain direction, pointing out which direction with my hands, and then they’d look in the exact opposite direction of what I meant because I was seeing a mirrored image.

The next shoot I did was in November with an old classmate of mine, Julian. We met up in Antwerp, but we didn’t have much luck with the weather. It was raining pretty much constantly and it was also quite cold. I could only make 3 photos, one of which I find turned out pretty well after all. Especially considering the conditions. I had the camera on a tripod, and was holding an umbrella over it as I was trying to get the focus right while Julian was standing with bent legs to fit into the frame. Poor guy. But I’m happy we tried it as this photo is still one of my favorites amongst the bunch. It was also the first time for me shooting color film, and I was so pleasantly surprised with the contrast and the colors when I finally – it took me a while to finish the roll – got the roll back from the lab.

In March 2011, I had my second shoot with Yaelle. I had met and photographed her once before – I had shot a friend of her in the summer and that’s how we got to know eachother – but this time I wanted to try something different. I told her I was trying to get more into film and she was immediately up for the challenge, even though I told her there could always go something wrong and the outcome would be unpredictable as I had very little experience with film up to this point. Her attitude really made things easier for me, and helped me concentrate on making the pictures instead of worrying whether or not they’d work out. Safe to say that Yaelle has since been pretty much my analog muse. Too bad we live so far apart – not even in the same country! But when we can, we arrange a shoot and I’m always equally impressed with the emotion that comes through those gorgeous blue eyes.

Lets see, what’s next. Am I boring you yet? Still comfy? Feel free to get some beer and chips if you want. Or leave. I won’t know the difference. After all, I can’t actually see you through my screen. (Or can I…? *dun dun dun*) Anyhow! In May I met up with Alexandra in the woods of Brussels, as I wanted to capture her between the bluebells that were blossoming that time of year.  One of the hardest things about this kind of photography to me, is getting the focus just right. I was shooting a lot at f2.8, to get a very shallow depth of field, but that would cause my focus to be off quite a few times, and mostly I hated myself for that. Sometimes it kind of worked for the shot.

June! Another shoot with Yaelle, also in the woods (I like nature. What are you going to do about it?). I brought a blanket to keep her warm (not that it was cold), and asked her to stand on this little wooden path with the blanket behind her. I liked how the trees in the background seemed to disappear into eachother.

 What comes after June? July! And what comes after Y(aelle)? Of course! R(enée)! … No? Ow come on, play along a little, will ya? Use your imagination! So, Renée. I had also shot with Renée before but gosh. The first time I saw her, I was so stunned by her beauty. Such a special face. And such a lovely girl. So I had to shoot with her again, there was simply no other option.

July was pretty busy as I also shot (amongst others) with Margaux with the gorgeous eyes who challenged my French (“Alors.. je fais ‘un deux trois, click’ hein…”) and fiery redhead Laura who impressed me with her honest expressions.

In August, one of my fellow film fanatics, Dan, came to visit Belgium all the way from Australia, bringing his lovely long haired muse Kate with him.

Next came my “Let’s have Kathleen (make up artist and partner in crime) throw stuff on models!” phase (not that I’m implying that this phase is now over. *cough*). In order of appearance you can see here Stefanie & Charlotte. Photos of Yaelle with stuff on her can be seen in a previous blogpost.

The summer of 2011 was pretty crappy weatherwise, so obviously we planned a sunny beach shoot in October. Model here is Laure, 16 and the youngest model I’ve photographed this year. This was also one of my favorite shoots this year, aside from trees and flowers, I apparently also like the ocean. The wonderful model and sunny summertime atmosphere (and the fact that I still have sooo many photos from that day) may also have something to do with that.

Which brings us seamlessly to my shoot with Qunneth of whom I’ll post some more pictures soon! I’m also waiting for more photos taken in November but things have apparently gotten mixed up at the lab. Hopefully they will turn up soon.

So this was it, a small (*cough*) recap of the past year shooting film. I can truly say I have fallen in love with the ‘old’ medium. I love the emotion film captures, while digital can sometimes seem too clean, too sterile almost. It will probably be the direction I will try to go in more and more in the future. There is still so much more to learn! Developing negatives myself, perhaps working with a 4×5 camera (please yes)… I’m very curious to see what the next year will bring. Whatever will be, will be…