How it Started versus How it’s Going
My name is Andre. I am a photographer, musician, podcaster, and all around creator based out of Michigan. My passion for photography started about almost 8 years ago, when I met my now wife. She was a photographer long before I was and her eye for the world is something I have always aspired to achieve. She was the one who introduced me to film photography. She took me to photography studios, darkrooms, and even let me use her Canon AE-1. I remember being in her basement, lying in bed with her and the AE-1 in hand, just clicking the shutter button, taking photos of the ceiling. I don’t even think there was film loaded, but I remember wanting to capture that small moment so bad, so I could never forget it. Some years later, and here I am now, not able to leave the house without either my Fuji X100F or some kind of film camera.
I have owned many cameras over the years, both film and digital, and I have learned a lot about what makes a camera important to me in that time. My main digital body currently is the Fujifilm X100F. I got this camera after using a Sony A7II, which I do still use, for a little while. I wanted something to go everywhere with me, and to give me the feel of film without being as slow as film is. This camera really delivers, it has become my favorite piece of gear I own. It’s small, lightweight, the battery life is amazing, the JPEG images are of the best I have ever seen in a camera, and it feels perfect in my hands. It’s truly a camera that makes me want to get out and shoot.
If you go through my Instagram, you’ll see that I am pretty partial to the look and feel of film. Especially that of Kodak Aerochrome, but more on that later. With shooting the Sony, the Fuji, and films like Kodak Porta, Ilford HP5, Ektar, and various others, I find that it’s important to keep some level of constantly in my work. The way I achieve this is through the use of RNI film profiles. RNI creates profile based film presets that emulate the look of stocks like Agfa Optima, Fuji Natura, Fuji Superia, Kodak Gold, Kodak Portra, Fuji Provia, Fuji Velvia, Polaroid, Ilford HP5, and of course my personal favorite, Kodak Aerochrome. These presets are applied as profiles in Lightroom, and they do not adjust global sliders like traditional presets would. They also have a way of compressing the highlights that feels very filmic in its approach. These presets are expensive, at anywhere from 100-200 dollars US, they are more than some other options out there. But for me, they are unmatched. They genuinely feel like their film counterparts, and they help me ensure that no matter what camera I am shooting, I can get the result I am after.
Now, I did mention earlier I would talk about Kodak Aerochrome. This film stock was an infrared film developed by Kodak to be used to land surveying and earth resource monitoring. But it didn’t take long for people to figure out you could use it for some other creative processes too. For me, I found out about it from the work of Richard Mosse. Richard Mosse documented Congo using this film and the images are other worldly. His books Infra and Enclave are worth checking out if you can find a copy. Sadly, Kodak discontinued the productions of Aerochrome a long time ago. Being that I wanted to re-create this look badly, I had two options. I could either spend insane amounts of money on old expired film stocks, or I could find a way to digitally recreate the look. This is where RNI stepped in. Their Aerochrome profiles are able to change the colors of green, to shades of red with the click of a button. Not only that, but they tend to leave skin tones relatively untouched. Check out this before and after of an old hotel here in Michigan:
Text and Photos by Andre Mamola