With a moniker called HalbFormat, we initially thought that photographer Sebastian Weissinger was solely focused on shooting in half-frame format. Not one to be boxed in, Sebi revealed that he has also started doing portraiture and shooting in color, too — a pause from all the black & white street and skate action that he's been capturing on film.
Previously, you mentioned about working with digital until the Olympus Pen lured you back to shooting analogue. What is it about the half-frame format that you like?
Well, I've been getting 80 frames on every single roll lately, so that's very convenient. But it's just the whole setup I use. It offers everything I need for the stuff I do and nothing more. It just ticks all the boxes for me.
Could you tell us more about HalbFormat?
It's just my Instagram handle actually. :) When I decided to set up this feed for my film photography I tried to come up with a name for it. I already use my real name for my personal/skateboarding Instagram and to my surprise, “@halbformat” (which is the german translation of “half-frame”) was still available. I've been using it for my zines now too. It might not have been the best choice though. My friends are joking about how I can't use any other film size now. If I ever feel like shooting medium format I might have to change it. Is “@mittelformat” still available? Haha!
Your photos are clean and minimal. What do you look for when you're taking a photo?
To be honest, I've got a whole lot of messy photos too. :) But in general, there's usually something I see, something sparking my interest. This could be some little detail or a person or the mood I get from looking at a street scene. And then I'll try to isolate my subject or person and get everything distracting out of the frame. It's mainly about reduction and keeping things as simple as possible. I've come to realize that I feel better keeping things simple and minimal. Just life in general. And I guess this also relates to my photography. Even my setup is very limiting. There's just the bare minimum I can change on the technical side of things, so I can work completely intuitively.
You shoot in digital and film. How do you decide between the two if you're on an assignment?
For anything paid I've only shot digital for now, because it's convenient and fits the kind of jobs I do. So far film is “only” my personal work and creative outlet. It's a nice change of pace and a totally different mindset shooting film. If I can land jobs that fit the analog workflow, I'd love to do that too, but there's no need to rush or force anything at the moment. I'd rather go with the flow and see where this film photography thing takes me.
What drives you to shoot in film?
What really got me hooked is the whole workflow from loading the camera to the final darkroom print and the hands-on experience. Just being able to do it all myself. Pulling the film out of the reel and seeing the negatives for the first time, the smell of the chemicals in my darkroom and watching the photo appear in the developer bath. Also the joy and frustration of finding the right exposure times. Accepting and appreciating the things I can't control or which just happen by accident. There's just so much I enjoy about shooting film.
Show us your most favorite half-frame photo and please share the story behind it.
There's a couple of favourite photos but this one is kind of special because it's from the first roll I shot after getting my Olympus Pen F. This was on a really cold, grey and rainy day in January 2018. I was on my way back home from getting documents for my son, who was born a couple of days before. As I got off the metro I took a quick look down to the street and was immediately fascinated by all the lines. Usually, this is a really busy crossing, but right then only a single person walked across the tram tracks. So I quickly snapped this photo and went back home. When I got the film back (I didn't process my films yet) I was so pleased that it turned out just how I wanted. It's one of the photos that kept me shooting early on. It was also the first one I printed when I set up my darkroom recently.
All color photos were taken with Lomography Color Negative 100 film.