There's an abundance of film shots nowadays, and looking for the art in them is like searching for a needle in a haystack. For Lomographer Pawel Szvmanski, a.k.a. kindmess, the future remains analogue with medium format film, as his portraits are diamonds in the rough.
Pawel's personal analogue story began with a 35 mm camera, used to go around shooting in compact cameras such as the Konica C35, a camera Andy Warhol carried with him during his parties. His experience in formats is very diverse, having already taken in polaroids, square, wide, old, and new, including the SX-70 and 195 Land Camera. However, satisfaction for Pawel was best found in medium format, particularly with his Land Cameras 195 and 645. He believes that every photographer has that preferred 'format', and you'd find it immediately as soon as you look through the viewfinder. He tells us:
"Adding the work with scanning of all those big 120mm negatives, you get an enormously encouraging process that is so satisfactory and rewarding; I definitely prefer the workflow when you have to wait for processing the film and manage to scan yourself. I've started shooting MF on digital as well, the look is different to me when compared to 35mm, more natural in terms of what human eyes see, i.e. closer but wider."
Hence, his photographic work runs seamless and clear, with the distinct 'analogue' qualities intact. Inspired by music and films by David Lynch, David Cronenberg, PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke, James Maynard Keenan, Mike Patton, and Josh Homme, Pawel prefers to make his images look like they're taken out of a movie, like a film still in medias res. The still image is moving.
" I know what environment I need and in most cases, I know what focal length will work but most importantly I think I know what emotional impact I would expect. I keep on repeating that I still search for something in photography, try to find something that can be considered 'mine', 'personal', whatever you call it. It's the harder way but worth the result."
Since storytelling is a huge element in his work, at times, he'd play with multiple-exposure as well, believing that creating multiple exposures is similar to 'turning the page' of the same story – back and forth. He tells us further:
" It’s not my main technique, although I basically tend to add context with additional shots, be it a diptych or a multiple-exposure. Since I try to get as much as I can in the camera, instead of post-processing, I definitely use it on film, not digital. I know you can stack two digital photos and play but it's really not the same, as it lacks the organic feel, contextual density, and self-explanation."
Pawel credits this unique style of photography in his anamorphic method of shooting. After mastering the technicalities of photography, particularly on focal lengths (which is the strength of his routine), Pawel then lets go of the rubrics, allows himself to be intuitive in creating the moods. That's why, for him, film photography triumphs over digital.
"Each segment of photography can teach new things and for all those years I got quite technical about the equipment but when shooting I naturally try to shake this off and focus on images – mood instead of technical precision is more powerful... I definitely prefer shooting than servicing cameras or participating in endless discussions on megapixels, dynamic range, button ergonomics; it does not bring you closer to your best shots, shooting is the most important."
In the future, Pawel wishes to transcend musicians and their music into photographs: Like any other artist, the next is "(to do) more dope things, basically."