Film Photographer Interview | Cameron Kline | Founder of Film Shooters Collective

1. Please tell us more about yourself, such as occupation, location and training. More information will allow us to know you better!

Currently I'm an underemployed wedding photographer living in a city South of Tokyo, Japan. Prior to coming here I was working as a full-time wedding photographer based out of Jacksonville, FL. As for training I'm largely self trained. In college I majored in Digital Technology and Culture at Washington State University, and while some of the curriculum was in photography I've had to supplement that with years of self-study on my own. I've been lucky enough to have been able to take some workshops at places like the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, OR and at Project Basho in Philadelphia, PA. Places like that can really help to further your skills and vision, and like I said, I'm lucky to have been able to attend.

2. What is it with film that captivates you?

There's an element of chance I think that keeps me coming back. Some of the most unexpected pictures can often be the best and I think film lends itself to that. I love seeing a really grainy roll of Kodak Tri-x and that's something that I don't get shooting digital. With digital I have to think about the processing or look of the image after the fact, and at times that troubles me. Film definitely isn't perfect as a process and still requires some additional work after it's scanned, but I find that it's 80-90% of what I want as soon as it's scanned.

At the risk of sounding like a hippy I think film also has this organic nature to it that's special. It comes from somewhere and is of something tactile whereas a digital photo remains 0's and 1's for it's entire existence. Some people of course print digital photos so they're not always 0's and 1's, but for the most part. . .

3. What is your favorite film and why?

It's Kodak Tri-x hands down. It's got a really classic look to it and it's exceptionally versatile.

4. As many people say, film is dying. What is your take on the lifespan of film and its direction in the future?

People also said that 80's glam rock died out a long time ago, but I guarantee you that somewhere out there, someone is rocking out secretly in their basement to some RATT. In all seriousness I don't think film is dead at all. I think innovations in film are for the most part dead, but I don't think that means the industry has to die, or that the craftsmanship that comes with the process has to die along with it.

Film is strong, regardless of how scary these times seem. The bottom line is there will always be one color and one black and white manufacturer for films. Think of all the Leicas ever made, or all of the Contax cameras out there. People want to shoot these; they're legends and there's so many of them floating around the second hand market. I think it'll be a long, long, time before we see film disappear completely. In fact, I'd wager we won't see it in our lifetimes unless materials become incredibly scarce or there's some serious innovations in imaging technology that render it useless.

What that doesn't mean however is that stocks and formats won't continue to change. Over the course of our lives we're going to see the disappearance of different film stocks in different sizes. The market dynamics of the film industry are only going to let those in the best shape survive so it'll be essential for these companies to focus on what they do well, what's popular, and forget the rest. No one makes money when 4x10 panorama sheets go stale on a shelf and ultimately we forget that this is a business.

If people are really worried about film disappearing then they need to find a brand and emulsion they like, and shoot it like there's no tomorrow. I'm guilty of letting rolls of film expire just like the next guy, and that's ultimately what kills film. There has to be a continuous demand for the product or there's no reason for the product to exist.

5. How did you come up with the idea to start Film Shooters Collective (FSC)?

I think it was a text message or an email to Brett. I said something like "hey man, if I do this would you be a part of it?" and he said something like "hell yeah" and the rest is history. The first people were all folks that I knew from Instagram and it grew from there.

I was on Instagram when they had their "we own your shit" terms of service change and while I enjoyed the community aspect of Instagram, and the ability to meet awesome people, I was also really burnt out on it. I wanted to create a place where like minded working photographers could meet up and share work and ideas. I wanted a place that really served to pump people up and to push each other.

6. What do you hope to achieve with FSC?

I'd really love to turn some new people on to photography and have this be their first stop for information in an encouraging environment that they ultimately become a part of. Hopefully when people get curious and search for "film photography" they find us and start asking questions on the blog and ultimately become members. Photography seems to be this unique medium where you have a large number of people who think everything is proprietary and I want to move away from that. The Film Shooters Collective should function as an open place to talk about film and the process behind it. We should be pushing each other and helping one another find opportunities and ways to strive instead of acting like this is something secret and that shouldn't be shared except for with an elite few.

Anything is possible really, but I'd like to see us looking out for one another and pushing each other to make better photographs and do so with film.

7. We know a book is coming up from FSC. How soon can we start to see this book coming into the physical world?

I think we're pretty well set for a release before the end of the year. We've had some really talented people step up to help out on this project and I can't be thankful enough that there's a community of people out there that believe in film enough that they would volunteer countless hours of their time putting up with me and making this thing a reality. We've had some hurdles to jump through, but in the end I think it's going to be a pretty impressive final product and it wouldn't have been possible without the talent of these folks.

8. Can you show the viewers your usual camera gear set up? Feel free to spread the poison!

What I'm carrying changes quite a bit based on the day, but the gear below is pretty common. Sometimes I switch out the M4 for an M6 if I'm shooting somewhere dark or think I'll need a meter.

Leica M4 w/28mm Elmarit ASPH, Nikon 35Ti, Ricoh GR, Metz 20 C-2, and of course Tri-x

Leica M4 w/28mm Elmarit ASPH, Nikon 35Ti, Ricoh GR, Metz 20 C-2, and of course Tri-x

9. What advise do you have to give to people who want to try film?

Take the plunge. Buy the camera of your dreams and go confidently in the direction of good light. . . Isn't that a quote from somewhere? Anyway, I think people should seriously take the plunge. You can buy an amazing and beautiful camera that used to cost a fortune, for pennies on the dollar. The Nikon 35ti for example is a beautiful camera that used to cost a grand. It's about $250 today. The Contax T2, also a $1,000 camera, about $350 today. Buy a cheap EOS body if you're a Canon shooter and get out there and try it.

To be frank I don't know anyone who has tried shooting film and been turned off by it. The process and the results hook everyone, and there's really no mystery to it anymore. The internet is available to most people and the answers are out there if you have questions about it. Think about how many years your parents shot film for. . . Now, only a select few of us could actually say their parents are rocket scientists, but most people always had something on their film.

The quality of film today is really exceptional and film, by nature, is very forgiving. So, go get a camera, put in a roll of Kodak Portra 400 and dominate. Now's the time.

10. Give us a quote of yours!

"You're the only person holding yourself back from making the kind of photos you want to make."

I was told that once and it's resonated in my head almost daily since.

Singapore based photographer, Kevin Lim, interviewed Cameron Kline for this post. See more of Kevin's work on Tumblr or here, on the Film Shooters Collective.  

Kevin Lim

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.