Interview
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Interview: Gabriel Maldonado

“Film is alive and no matter how much you plan, it’s going to do what its going to do.”

Gabriel is an amazing portrait photographer out in Orange County, CA. His work is really unique and quite engrossing. I highly suggest you check out his instagram and website.

JM – Why do you shoot film?

GM – I couldn’t afford a full frame digital and I really wanted to start photography after doing video for so long. Then I asked myself why do I want to shoot digital when I’m just going to try and copy the look and feel of film in post. Well we all know you can NEVER copy the look and feel of film. 

JM – What is your favorite film?  Camera?

GM – Hate to sound cliché but it works and it’s never failed me. PORTRA 400. I’ve tried others and the only one that has come close to the love I have for portra is Cinestill 800t.

GM – My favorite camera is my current most recent acquisition, a Leica M6 in classic chrome.

JM – What proportion of your shots turn out as you hoped (or better)?

GM – I’m lucky to get 5-6 usable shots in a roll. And I’m ecstatic if I can get like 11. A lot of the shots I get are good shots but just not stuff I’d use and share – more shareable for the model. 

JM – Would you say that your style has changed since you’ve started shooting film? What was the catalyst for this change?

GM – Yes I would. I’d say I’ve become more patient with my work and humbled by film. Film is alive and no matter how much you plan, it’s going to do what its going to do. All you can do is make sure you set it up to succeed. Framing, exposure, etc…

“I think I’m always proud of the new stuff I do because I feel like every time I shoot I change and get better in other areas where I was previously weaker.”

JM – What is a personal goal you have for your photography?

GM – I’d like to do more commercial fashion work. I’d like to be published somewhere that truly likes my work and not when its convenient to have a new photographer.

JM – What do you look for in a photograph?  Is what you find compelling in a photograph different when it’s one of your photographs compared with one from someone else?

GM – Yeah, I’m definitely more hard on my work. I like everyone’s work over my own work. I’m constantly second guessing myself and I’m always a finger push away from deleting a photo I’ve already published. I’m getting over it though; I think I’m getting better. I think…

JM – What is your favorite shot you’ve ever taken?  What’s the story behind it?

GM – I don’t think I have a favorite at the moment… It always changes. If I had to say, I guess it would be my most recent work. I think I’m always proud of the new stuff I do because I feel like every time I shoot I change and get better in other areas where I was previously weaker.

JM – If someone told you they were thinking of getting into film, what would your response/advice be? 

GM – Buy a scanner and develop yourself. You will save a lot of money. There’s nothing wrong with using a pro lab. I use one . But its going to cost. Just keep that in mind. Oh, and shoot something cheap first then work your way into the pro films like Portra 400. You might end up liking the cheaper stuff more anyway.  And remember – if you shoot with a Leica, Mamiya, or Contax, they’re all just black/chrome boxes and tools. Invest in glass first and a good scanning system.  That will make for a higher quality photo. So go get those old Nikon systems or those canon FD cameras… They’re worth it. 

More of Gabriel’s work can be seen below.

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