Film Photographer Interview | Aliki Komps

1. Hi Aliki! Great to have you on FSC. Do let our viewers know more about Aliki.
Thank you for the warm welcome Kevin. I am a wearer of many hats really. And the older I get, the more this becomes truer. I was born in Florina, Greece and have lived in Melbourne, Australia for the most part of my life. I am a proud mother. I am a freelance photographer who enjoys working on various assignments. And I’m also a writer, editor and interviewer with She Shoots Film. Interestingly, I met the two other women who joined me to create She Shoots Film, Lucy Wainwright and Lilly Schwartz, through the FSC! 

2. How did you get to know about FSC? How different is FSC from other film communities? 
I have a distinct memory of wanting to connect with a community of passionate film photography enthusiasts. After finding and reading about the various photographers involved in the FSC, I felt a sense of awe. The FSC is a colourful film photography community that is rich with passion, commitment, knowledge, skill, diversity and character. I felt welcomed into the community by Cameron Kline and the collective members from the outset, and have grown as a film photographer as a result of direct engagement with the FSC.  

3. What is it in film that draws you in? How did you get started?
I got started some time ago by experimenting with various Lomography cameras. Initially, I was drawn into the strange and warped photographs that these types of cameras are renowned for. The double exposures, fisheye, sprockets, light leaks. However, at a deeper level, what tends to draw me in time and time again into the practice of film photography is when I experience some type of challenge in my life. This challenge often acts as an initial catalyst to get back into film. It’s strange how the mind can work really. For me, if I cannot express something in words, either verbal or written, I attempt to express through image. Ultimately, what draws me in is the exercise of attempting to get something out through the medium of film photography. 

4. You dabble with various formats, from 35mm, 120, instant, peel apart and digital as well. Which is your absolute favorite and why? Also, color, black and white or slide?
Yes, indeed, over the years I have dabbled in various formats. For me, they all seem to have a place in my practice. Despite how hard I may attempt to stick to one format, I find that I am naturally drawn to using a couple of different format cameras at any one point in time. In writing this however, by and large, I identify most as a medium format film photographer. The square is kinder to my eyes - although I do try to break the square sometimes. And I see in black and white. So my natural internal grain sits moodily with a medium format camera that contains a roll of black and white film. I do experiment with colour and slide film regularly, but this can sometimes feel awkward, almost as if I’m going against my grain. Despite this though, I do engage with the different formats and film types because I feel like pushing against my grain is the only way I’ll grow. Comfortability is not a place I ever really want to be with in my practice. And although the act of photography can be an extension of my limbs and mind, a level of uneasiness with the process and practice drive me to be hyper alert, always listening and attempting to see. 

5. What is your shooting style? Care to share a favorite photo that you took and why this is so.
I think my style has changed over time. I have moved in, out, in, out, in, out. Meaning I have moved from personal themes, to external themes, back to personal matter, and so the movement has proceeded. What has stayed the same, is that I try to highlight something ‘real’ in my photography. Whether it’s making photographs of the face of a child, families, people, a discarded chair, I attempt to draw out the real.  

This is a photograph of my son drawing with chalk on concrete. Just after completing his drawing, my son bounded up and gleefully expressed "Look Mama, I'm drawing a Polaroid!" And right after that, he also proceeded to draw, in his words, a “Yashica” and a “Canon” film camera. Without warning, in that moment, I felt a deep sense of utter wonderment. Interestingly, my son is part of Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2009) - he’s on the tail end of the first generation never to have experienced the pre-internet world. Shortly afterward, it occurred to me that many of his pre-prep peers will have never seen a film camera, touched film or experienced the practice of making a photograph that does not digitally appear before your eyes. My son is is exposed to film photography daily. He observes me, asks questions and every so often asks to make a photo. This conversation and doing with my son is nothing short of golden to me. I have chosen this photograph because of the strength of emotion it elicits inside me. 

6. I see that you shoot a lot of children's portraits. Aren't they difficult to shoot with their high energy and unpredictability? How did you manage to "tame" them for your shots? 
I do indeed make many, many children’s portraits. Strangely enough this has evolved very naturally as I did not set out to specifically photograph children. And to be honest, I don’t manage to tame children at all. On the contrary, children tame me. They pull me right into being with them. I work with their high energy and their unpredictability. Their movement. Their resistance. Their enthusiasm. Children are honest. So by and large, when I’m with children, I feel like I’m working with subjects that are raw and genuine. They are less interested in the outcome of how they look after I depress the shutter. And just do what they’re driven to do. Move, wriggle, turn away, turn toward, turn around. Upside down. I attempt to make photographs of children that speak of the experience of childhood showing the softness and innocence of the inner being of a child.

7. Do you shoot based on instinct, certain conditions or do you have a project in mind beforehand? 
I make photographs based on instinct and conditions. I have worked on more longitudinal themed projects, but I identify as an everyday film photographer, so working with instinct and condition can often suit this variable for me. I rarely photograph in the evening, preferring to practice at all times of the day using different forms of natural light. And I try to work with all types of light. No matter the time of day. 

8. If you could only have 1 camera, 1 lens and 1 film, what would they be and why?
I would have to say that it would be the Contax 645 with a Planar 80mm/F2 lens and a roll of Kodachrome 120 slide film. And why? I like what I see out there amongst other photographers using this camera. The film is more my personal preference. And I’d love to experiment with this combination.

Left to right: Canon VT Deluxe, Yashica Mat EM and Mamiya 645 1000s   

9. Some people think that film is dying with the death of Kodak and also the ceasing of major film types. What words/advice would you give to such people?
“Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.” Hunter & Thompson. Film gets the blood racing for a fairly significant amount of film enthusiasts that strongly believe that the practice of film photography and making of film photographs is still very much worthy of engaging in. Independent of Kodak and the other major film companies, as long as this community continues to feel this way, there will always be a way with film. Consider the birth of Cinestill film in 2012 and Film Ferrania restarting production soon. We can even consider more granular examples where individuals such as Teknari making their own film. As long as film continues to get our blood racing, it will continue to be worth doing. And in so doing, there will always be a way.

Thanks Aliki for taking time to share with our readers! You can look up Aliki's work at the links below:

Morning With You

Instagram

Twitter

She Shoots Film


Singapore-based film lover, Kevin Lim, interviewed Aliki for this post. See more of Kevin's work on his website, on Tumblr or on the Film Shooters Collective

Kevin Lim

Singapore

Someone who's crazy about cameras. Someone who loves photography but wouldn't call himself a photographer. Someone who's lazy to do PhotoShop. Someone who loves the smell and physicality of film. That's why he loves films.