Feature Friday – Jan Gottweiss

by | Apr 16, 2021 | Interviews & Features | 0 comments

Hi Jan, Can you tell us where you’re from and how long you’ve been shooting film?

I’m from the south of Germany currently living in a rather small city called Mosbach. It is roughly an hour away from the beautiful city of Heidelberg. There’s a lot of beautiful scenery and many historic towns near me. That really comes in handy for shooting film and staying motivated!

I started shooting film in January 2020. Before that, I experimented with vintage lenses mounted on my digital camera. I just loved the character and imperfections these old and cheap lenses could achieve! While doing some research about these, I came across lots of information on analog cameras. Realizing that analog cameras could facilitate these beautiful images, I just wanted to try it out myself. That’s when I bought my first 35mm film camera, a Nikon F65. Since then, I was instantly hooked!

Your feed is super impressive with street shots mixed with landscapes, which do you prefer to shoot and why?

As you might have noticed, I have a reoccurring hashtag, which is #allthealleys. Just because of that, I would have to say that I am absolutely obsessed with narrow streets, alleys, paths – you name it, I have to shoot it! For me, that just means finding something new and different behind every corner and also discovering new details every time I look at these shots. But also, street shots are what I love to do when I explore new cities, which is not as easy at the moment!

When I roam around the south of Germany, my home base, I usually love to be outdoors and that’s when I come to enjoy the wide-open and play around with landscape photography more.

I’ve noticed your photos are (mostly) devoid of other people which makes the photos feel that much more immersive, what are your thoughts about having people in the shot?

I enjoy including people in my work, without making them the main focus of the picture. Sometimes I feel like including people in my scenes makes the picture more lively. It’s creating a kind of natural flow of the picture. With landscape shots, including people also makes the angles and perspectives clearer and gives a point of reference.

Also, as a side note, germans tend to not like being photographed spontaneously 😉

I noticed you like to try lots of different films, do you have a favourite?

Trying different film stocks and experimenting with them is so much fun. I would say it’s one of the major aspects why I like film photography so much!

In general, I like shooting with affordable film stocks like Kodak Gold, Kodak ProImage, Fuji C200 or Fomapan. It makes you worry less about the price of each shot and helps to be more creative! I usually save my more expensive rolls for special occasions.

Regardless of the price I really like CineStill 800T, Portra 800 or Lomo 400!

Another thing I absolutely love is experimenting with expired films! With a little patience, you can get expired rolls quite cheap and the results from each roll will be a nice surprise!

 

Have you changed the way you shoot film since you started?

Definitely! I learned not to worry too much about doing everything right! I don’t worry as much about ‘wasting’ film and became more relaxed. In short, I just try to have fun with the process and am more excited about fun or wonky results. That’s exactly what makes film photography so exciting and I’ve come to embrace that! I also learned that, regardless of how much time I took for a frame, it’s unrealistic that every roll will turn out perfectly. The more you get to know film photography, the more you gain knowledge about different stocks and what you like. And in my case, I just enjoy it more and more the longer I get into it!

I understand you use a mix of 35mm and 120 cameras, which do you prefer?

I prefer shooting 35mm! I absolutely love how small and compact a fantastic 35mm setup can be. I like how I can carry around my camera, a few lenses, and a few rolls of film in a small bag. Especially for longer hikes or trips, this is perfect! Most of my 35mm cameras are even way smaller than my digital camera.

Besides that, I like the ease of use and comfort of my 35mm gear while shooting. I can just be a bit more creative and spontaneous!

Last but not least, the cost is a major factor. Medium format cameras are more expensive than the typical 35mm setup. Leicas excluded ;-).

Also, 35mm film stock is cheaper since you get more pictures per roll – and there are a lot of fantastic affordable options. This also gives me some peace of mind and not worry too much.

 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into shooting film?

Just get started, it’s so much fun!

I would recommend getting started with a cheap 35mm camera as well as some affordable rolls like Kodak Gold for color shots or Fomapan for B&W shots. If you feel like you are missing something gear-wise, you can work your way up from there.

You don’t need to burn through your film rolls, but you also shouldn’t be too scared about ‘wasting’ a frame. You will only get better by practicing, experimenting, and making mistakes. Oh and, making mistakes is part of the fun, don’t stress.

Last but not least, If you have any questions just ask! Stupid questions do not exist and the film community is super helpful and supportive!

P.S. Always rewind your film before opening the back.

What’s the film community like in Germany? Do you have any good labs to recommend?

In my region, there isn’t really a huge active film community, maybe also because of the current situation. But, I already got in touch with a few film photographers around me through IG which is great! I chat with them regularly and we even did a small film photo tour together.

Since I develop and scan at home I don’t have too much experience with film labs. However, I only heard good stuff from https://safelightberlin.com/ and https://www.meinfilmlab.de/en/.

If you don’t already, follow Jan on Instagram and support him by buying a print.

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