digital

The Bronica Guy

Since I got my Bronica back in 2017, I’ve produced so much content with it (and about it) that some people started to identify me as the Bronica guy.

Many stumbled upon my work while looking for information about these cameras (and film in general). Over time, a large part of my audience was built around the Bronica.

My camera was becoming more important than what I was creating with it.

As I realized about this, I started to wonder if those new eyeballs were looking at my images or at my camera. Would they stop being interested in my photography if I didn't shoot the Bronica? Would they look away if I shot digital?

I doubted myself and my work.

The Bronica had taught me so much about photography. And yet, it was making me feel trapped, even if this was a mostly self-imposed sentiment.

I knew what I had to do: to the disappointment of many, I decided to leave the Bronica behind on this trip. Not only because it'd be a pain to carry, but also because I could break that Bronica guy label once and for all.

This was one of my most productive trips and I'm very proud of the work I did on the road. It's all digital, it feels liberating, and I can't wait to use my Bronica again.

Downgrading my camera gear

I've been feeling a little bit uninspired lately. It's normal, everyone has highs and lows in photography.

When I struggle with creativity, there's one thing that almost always comes to my mind: camera gear.

"If only I had this camera or this lens... I could create something different"

I only recently realized that it's not a new piece of gear that I want to buy. I want a better version of myself, a better photographer making better images than the ones I'm making right now.

But it's not about the equipment we have, it's about the use we make of that equipment. A new camera or lens might inspire you to get out, but it will still be you who has to make the images.

A few weeks ago, I started shooting with my old Sony a6000. It's an almost 4-year-old camera, able to create beautiful images. It's always been a backup camera so I used to look down on it.

Not anymore. From now on, it will be my main camera for photography (digital, this is, the Bronica is not going anywhere!).

I also downgraded my 70-200mm big and heavy telephoto lens to the 55-210mm that came in my a6000 kit. The quality coming out of them isn't even in the same league and still, I've made more images I like with the latter. That's due to the size, weight... and also price. Being cheap means I'm more willing to risk it in rough conditions.

This kit should enable me to create most of what I want to create with my photography. Thinking otherwise has only led me to dwell and waste time looking at new gear.

Let's get out and enjoy what we have, let's get out and create something.

Shooting film is not vegan

[...] film is not a vegan product. Film is made of gelatin, which, as you may know, is a product of animal bones.

I never thought about it.

While this is not a big deal (no animals are killed to produce film), I have thought about the environmental cost of shooting film before and I have mixed feelings.

I am aware that the production of digital cameras isn't good either.

After almost two years developing film, though, it's hard for me to think that my digital cameras have had a similar footprint in the environment. Imagine the 250+ rolls of film I've shot so far: the film itself, the backing paper, the spools, the chemicals, water and paper used for development, the archival sleeves, the energy to scan them.

And I don't even have a darkroom.

DSLRs are the new film

As it usually happens with big corporations, it's taking much longer than anticipated. It's happening nevertheless: there's no room for mirrors in the future of mainstream photography.

They were just a patch to solve a problem that doesn't even exist with today's technology. They are irrelevant and unnecessary.

And that makes them cool.

Just kidding. Kind of.

The reason why I shoot film is because it's the only way I can make images with a tool like the Bronica.

For the same reason, plenty of people will keep using their DSLRs because it will be the only way to get that experience. Mirrorless cameras are lighter and smaller, they bring a lot of advantages but they change the way we take photographs.

And of course, there are people who'll embrace the flaws of DSLRs, especially the early ones that came out years ago.

DSLRs are the new film. They are about to become a niche in photography, used by some only because of the unique experience (and probably look) you can achieve with them.

I'm excited about it.

My dream camera

Have you ever thought about what your dream camera would look like?

Mine would look something like this.

I want a mini Bronica SQ. Smaller and lighter, using a new type of film for 5x5 frames, 16 exposures per roll.

The viewfinder would stay the same, a little smaller due to the overall size reduction. You'd be able to switch to a fully electronic viewfinder (very much like the Fuji X100 series) with a live preview of the exposure and the film you have loaded in the back. This preview can simulate pushing and pulling as well.

If you run out of batteries, it should still work using the optical viewfinder.

I'd like to have just one lens, a zoom lens with a range of 20-300mm. f/4 would be more than enough.

When taking a long exposure, it should be able to show you the image as it's being "built". Of course, simulating the effect film will have on it. This way, you could stop it once it looks good and not before or after.

This would be the perfect camera for a hybrid shooter.

What would yours look like?

The one and only reason why I shoot film

It's not because of the "film look" - I can achieve very similar results from a digital file.

It's not because it's cool - although this is a good bonus, who doesn't want to be cool?

It's not because it slows me down - you can be as slow as you want with your digital camera.

It's not because it costs me money, thus it makes me think twice before pressing the shutter - I do shoot more with a digital camera, but I'm merciless when it comes to delete pictures afterwards.

It's not because I like the smell of the chemicals - I do not.

It's not because I like to develop and scan my negatives - I don't mind it too much, but sometimes I wish someone else could do it for me.

No, it's not because of any of these reasons.

The one and only reason why I shoot film is because it's the only way I can shoot with my Bronica.

The experience I get while making images with that camera is unique, and there's no digital camera (under $50k) that can offer me the same.

When I shoot with the Bronica, I'm a better photographer and a better artist.

And this alone, is worth the effort and the cost.

April, 2000 -

My mom is a collector of memories.

For years, she spent a lot of money and time putting together photo albums with side notes: where we went, what we ate, how we felt.

"1985-90", "90-93"

They are images of the highlights of our lives: that wedding, that party, that birthday, that day at the beach.

"April, 2000 - ", says the label of the very last photo album.

As you turn pages on that album, you start noticing that whereas one from the 90s would have 3-4 photos per event, this one had 10-20, getting worse and worse towards the end.

No more side notes, no more anecdotes.

And one day, suddenly, no more photos.

There wasn't room for all of them.

Digital happened.