[Interview-Tuesday] Sean Molin
I’m very pleased that today we interview Sean Molin, I’m just in love with all his photography.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I’m Sean Molin. By day I work in a guitar store, and by basically every other time of the day I’m taking pictures. I update my Facebook page a couple times a day about both the shoots I’m doing as well as photographer-centric tips, tricks, interesting articles, etc. I also update my Flickr with the best of my best. And of course, there’s always my home page, but it’s more for new clients than you and me! I photograph just about anything… from live music, to seniors, to still life, to landscapes, to weddings. My music background is responsible for me getting into live music photography, and live music photography is the reason I’m passionate about the craft in general.
Why do you like shooting film?
I love shooting film because it legitimizes you in the world of digital. No one can claim that “you have it easy and you’re just pushing buttons” when you can say “yeah, but I can do that too!” But seriously, hands down the best reason to shoot film is for the hands-on start-to-finish aspect of it. The fact that I load this magic paper into a box with a shutter and some glass… spin some dials… and then I get to go home and mix magic chemicals and I have a tangible result in my hands right there… not on a computer screen. It’s extremely rewarding to know you created something from scratch. I think the most satisfying feeling for a film photographer in particular is developing E-6 color slides. When you put that positive on a light table and you get those Velvia-rich colors just popping off the film… Wow. That’s all there is to say.
The other reason to love film is the gear. Oh man, film cameras are as cool as they come. Rolleiflex Planar? Hasselblad 501CM? Leica M3? Nikon F? They are magical, ultra-high-end, purpose-built machines, each with a history, and each will turn heads and make you the center of attention… and hey, most of us photographers have an ego to stroke!
Do you have a favorite camera and/or film?
By default my favorite camera is the Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, because that’s what I have. But going into it I could have got anything. While I had always been in love with the idea of film photography, I knew I wanted to go medium format… and with that, I was heavily inspired to bite the bullet by Vivian Maier, the Chicago nanny who’s amazing work was just recently discovered. I went to Chicago to see her exhibition, and behold: she shot with a Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar. I had to have one. Two weeks later, one was on its way from Australia into my hands. But I have other favorites, like the above mentioned Hasselblad 501CM. I shall have one. I’d *like* to get a Leica some day, but everyone has warned me to stay away as they are the easy way to make an expensive hobby, totally unaffordable. As one other photographer put it, “the sure way to get a divorce is to bring Leica into the home.” That and while I like film very much, I’m not really interested in 35mm. I think you’re crazy to say that digital doesn’t bring *so* much to the table, and I think in that format, digital takes the cake.
As far as film goes, for black and white I love Kodak Tri-X 400 and Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros… and for color (I only shoot E6), I love Fujifilm Provia 100F and 400X, and Velvia 50 (duh, who doesn’t). I am usually shooting Tri-X for its versatility and exposure latitude (plus I love the extreme high contrast I can coax it into)… and I love Provia because it’s extremely vibrant, but not nearly as cartoonish as Velvia. With a little work in post, I can easily control skin tones if necessary.
I do scan all my negatives using an Epson v750-M with SilverFast AI Studio and I mount the film with after market film holders from betterscanning.com. While I like the concept of wet printing, scanning and digital processing fits my workflow much better and allows me to have *that* much more creativity and flexibility. I’m extremely satisfied with my digital scans.
What is your best analog photo till now and a little explanation about it?
I don’t know If I’m qualified to determine my “best” film shot thus far, but I can show you my favorite. Okay, I have a couple, but here’s one I like.
Neopan 100, used a red filter, contrast curves in Lightroom. Oh, here’s a color one too, just in case.
Provia 100, added curves and vignette in Lightroom.
What’s your vision on the future of film photography?
I sincerely believe the future is bright. I think we only need to look at music. Vinyl is to film as CDs (or DVDAs) are to DSLRs as camera phones are to iTunes singles. Vinyl took a huge hit with the advent of digital music, and with good reason. The convenience and quality of digital is not seriously debatable. But it’s really the digital downloads that have been the savior of vinyl. They serve totally different purposes. You can inexpensively buy your digital music to have with you everywhere, travel with, share… it’s good enough, and it’s fun. But for the stuff you *really* like… for your favorite artists and your favorite albums… now you get a nice turntable, and you buy the record. You get that nostalga, you get that experience, you get that quality (you get that nice, big, tangible album art)… Film is the same. I save the film for my favorite stuff… for the stuff I know I’m going have for myself, that I’m really trying to save. But digital gives my clients what they want. I can experiment effectively and affordable. I can keep up with the times and deliver and quality product in a timely fashion. I can enjoy the client-photographer process. And hey, even now I’m doing iPhoneography. Instagram is fun. I never thought I’d actually ever find an interest in it, but it really is great to have a phone with you everywhere, and share your pictures at an instant with anyone who wants to see.
I think we’ll see more pros going to a hybrid workflow. I know I am. I predict it will be a huge sell with my wedding clients, and it will differentiate myself from the watered-down market it is. I’m very excited for the future, and it’s an *amazing* time to be a photographer.