The Melvin Mapa Interview

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and a brief story on how you got into film photography.

Before I have fallen in love with film photography, literature and cinema occupies my thoughts.

Got hooked in buying, shooting, and developing film around 2014 and I haven’t bought a digital camera since then.

2. What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?

Although I’m shooting medium format, I’m still a 135 guy. I have more shots in a roll so more room for fun and experimentation. To take risks is essential to make your creative life sensible.

I love to work on projects on both black and white, and color.

3. What do you think film has that digital doesn’t have?

Film photography helps me contemplate. From what film to load, perspective to take, and to ask myself if there’s something I really want to talk about. The slow process of film photography is like doing yoga or meditation. Shooting film helps me introspect about life better.

It’s challenging because I need to be spontaneous yet precise.

4. Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?

To be an auteur is the goal. I have a limited darkroom experience. It’s like a kiss from a stranger who I need to see again.

I’m comfortable printing my photos in a lab as long as Fotofabrik works on them. Looking forward for their printing services.

5. What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?

Film photography is harder and the challenge is romantic. Waiting for my rolls to be processed is like loving someone without having the assurance of getting loved in return but it’s ok because love should be unconditional.

I’ve learned that I’m not a good photographer. But I don’t want to be just a craftsman. I want to be like an athlete who needs daily practice to hone my skills and to complete the stories or feelings that I need to tell.

6. Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?

Trent Parke, Rinko Kawauchi, Robert Frank, Masao Yamamoto.

For local photographers, this is a top-of-the-head list. I like the work of Arthur Quejadas II, Mindy Alberto, Digoy Isleta, Ernesto Enrique, Wyg Tysmans, Nana Buxani, Jez Asnar, Teo Esguerra,

7. Do you see any value or merits shooting with film?

Shooting film is a conscious choice so the merit is fulfillment. The variables to commit mistakes will force someone to close his eyes and to see within his heart.

Harvesting keepers when shooting film can break one’s heart. I have 36 shots in every roll and might get 6 good images but none of them could be a keeper. In a roll, I might not get an image that I find worthy.

Digital photography is prose. Film photography is poetry.

8. What do you think your future is like with film photography?
I’ll continue shooting film. I’m hesitant of buying a digital camera because I’m anxious that I might use it first before a film camera. Mobile phone photography for snapshots is enough.

Film photography won’t die in my lifetime. And if it ever dies, romanticism won’t.

9. Do you have any dream film photography project?
I value photography books more than exhibits. I have several series already and I’m saving money to publish them.

To nurture the growing film photography community in Bicol.

10. Would you like to share some advise to those who want to try out film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?

Be patient and you’ll feel that you’re getting better as a photographer and as a person.

Buy fresh films to save yourself of heartaches because expired films have variables where your shots could end up a disaster.

Be with people who are better than you. But also be with people who need guidance.

11. Anything you want to add? Future exhibits, projects you’re currently busy with? Anything…

It’s not a long shot. More love and light between RFF and LM.