Quarantine made us bake break, take on gardening, and workout in our teeny tiny apartments, but for Isabel Malia, it was the perfect occasion to try out film photography. Originally from Boston and now based in New York City, she always had an artistic fiber in her: from drawing at 9 years old, acrylic painting at 12, and digital photography at 17, she finally caved to the analogue fever in March 2020. Shooting landscapes, both natural and urban, she experiments with films, sometimes as old as the buildings she photographs. We talked to her about her experience with film so far, especially with the Lomography CN 400 as well as her future projects and endeavors.
Hey Isabel! First off, can you tell us how you got into photography? Especially analog photography?
I started when I was in my freshman year of college. I bought a cheap DSLR and just started shooting. My analogue fascination started in March during the quarantine. All of my friends shot film and if it weren’t for them entertaining all my questions, I probably would never have gotten into it! My first film camera was a Lubitel 166B, which is my go-to camera now.
What do you like to shoot the most?
I really love to shoot landscapes, vintage items and old buildings. There’s something about them that’s special enough to be worth a frame of film. It’s also interesting when I take photos of buildings and cars that are just as old as the film cameras I use!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from things that are old and will probably outlive me. There’s something humbling about looking at hundred year old buildings and objects that were around before I was born and will stay there well after I’m gone.
From the series you sent us, do you have a favorite one? Can you tell us the story behind it?
My favorite would have to be the minimalistic shot of the MGC. This was my first roll so I wasn’t expecting it to be good. I was also getting the hang of the functions of my camera at the time. It’s my favorite due to its minimalistic composition, but also because the car was a gift to my mother. There are less than 400 of these cars in the world. I thought it was special enough to be my first film subject.
Although you don’t have people in the pictures you sent, they all seem to achieve a character and a personality. How do you do that?
My inanimate subjects usually have stories of their own. They have history that shows in their composure. Between rusty cars and old buildings, they can all stand on their own. That’s why they make such interesting film subjects!
Do you have any future projects we should be on the lookout for ?
Soon I will be releasing a series of photographs taken on my 117 year old film camera! It barely works, and it’s a little rough around the edges, but the fact that a camera that old works at all is amazing to me.
Do you have any advice to give to any photographer trying out film?
Take it slow. Film will teach you patience during its intimate process. It’s easy to get swept away in today’s age of instant photographs. Just take your time and it will show you how to be a better artist. The only way to get good at it is to practice!