Interview
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Interview: Carl Fehres

” I absolutely love the process of shooting film, not seeing the results for days or even weeks.  I love the slower pace of manually focusing and the limit of photos per roll causing me to really think about every frame, every image before I press the shutter button.”

Carl is a really talented portrait photographer out of Houston, TX. His polaroid work is the best I’ve seen and his other incredible work uses several other cameras including a Mamiya RZ67, Pentax 67II, and Leica M6. His website can be found here.

JM – Why do you shoot film?

CF – Man, how do I answer that… There’s so much I love about shooting film.  I love that I’m getting the look I’ve been wanting with almost no editing after I get the images back from the lab. I absolutely love the process of shooting film, not seeing the results for days or even weeks.  I love the slower pace of manually focusing and the limit of photos per roll causing me to really think about every frame, every image before I press the shutter button.  The best part has to be scan day… getting email from the lab with a link to the files. Lastly, I love not spending hours editing digital files to try and make them look like something organic and natural.

JM – What is your favorite film?  Camera?

CF – Unfair question – that’s like picking your favorite child.  I would have to say the Leica M6 and Summicron 35mm lens with Portra 400 if I had to pick just one combination. The view through the Mamiya RZ67 is absolutely dream like and the results are incredible.  It’s just not a camera that you can use every day.

JM – Of the film stocks you use, is there any rhyme or reason as to when you use one over another?

CF – I like Portra because it’s available in both 35 and 120 format.  I’ve been trying Kodak Color 200 recently on shoots where I want more color pop, but unfortunately it’s not available in 120.  I’ve used the Kodak Color 200 for all of the double exposure and most of the underwater work I’ve done recently.  

CF – I shoot a lot of BW as well.  I shoot a lot of BW when color will be an issue due to uneven or bad lighting.  I also love using BW when shooting in harsh light.  I use Kodak Tri-X 400 when shooting 120 and TMAX 400 for 35mm.  The Tri-X has too much grain for my taste when shooting in 35mm format

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

CF – I’ll normally shoot 80-120 Images on a shoot.  I’ll typically post 80% of those for the model to review and pick from.  I’m pretty selective with what I post to my portfolio and I’m happy if 2-3 images are portfolio worthy.

JM – How often do you find yourself doing a shoot with your car? What makes the difference between those shoots when you use it and those when you don’t?

CF – I don’t shoot with cars that often but it’s fun when I do.  I like going into a shoot with some type of theme or style.  Adding a fun vintage car or a really interesting location gives me something to work from.

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

CF – I like the quality of my work better now that I’m shooting film.  I used to struggle with color more when I shot digital.  I know I can change colors really easily in post processing with digital but you can spend hours trying to find the color pallet that matches your style, I don’t have that struggle with film.  I don’t think my style has changed too much but the overall look and feel of my images is more organic and natural.  

CF – As an experiment, a few months ago I shot with a medium format digital camera along side my normal film gear.  I could hardly stand using the digital camera, shooting with it just felt so awkward to me compared to shooting my Mamiya RZ67.  I got the images back on the computer and the digital camera raw images had insane amounts of dynamic range and detail.  The digital camera had almost too much detail and the colors were uninspiring.  I spent 30 minutes editing the the digital file to look as good as my film shot was straight from the lab.  Once I was done I still preferred the look of the film file.  It had less detail which I actually prefer when shooting portraits.

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

CF – Photography for me is a passion and a creative outlet.  I’ve never considered myself creative.  My person goal is to continue trying new things and learning and to work with as many creative people as I can.

“I’m drawn to photos that capture something unique and special, something that evokes an emotion or feeling.”

JM – What do you look for in a photograph? What do you look for in a photograph?

CF – I’m drawn to photos that capture something unique and special, something that evokes an emotion or feeling.  I like a photo that tells a story, like a frame from a movie. 

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

CF – My favorite changes every few months.  Right now it would have to be the double exposure photo of @kim.vandageraad.  It’s a shot that I could never have fully planned or imaged.  I’ve been shooting flower exposed film from my friend Chase Hart @myfridayfilms.  I don’t know how the first exposure was taken before I shoot the second exposure so results are a bit random and sometimes magic.

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

CF – Just do it!  Grab whatever camera you can pick up for cheap and go shoot a roll or two.  It’s easy to get caught up with all the gear (and I love gear) but all you really need is a decent and cheap 35mm SLR and cheap fast lens to go make some magic.  

CF – Start with black and white and get the process down.  Black and white is actually pretty easy to develop and scan yourself so you can do this cheaply if you want to keep the costs down.  

CF – Color is more tricky.  Most film is daylight balanced so start by shooting outside or next to a window with natural light.  Find a good lab you can work with and talk to them!  Send them examples of work you want your final results to look like.  Scanning color film is an art form and the lab needs to understand what your vision is.

More of Carl’s work can be seen below.

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