Film photography takes patience, keen eyes and a whole heap of concentration. That doesn't seem to faze Sabina Kazancevova though, with ties to both the UK and to her native Slovakia, Sabina grew up around cameras and while still young in age, she's acquired quite the collection of photos. Her taste in photography in unique, shooting on film certainly isn't for everyone. Here's what she's got to say for herself:
How does photography empower you?
"With the medium format that I shoot with, I only shoot with film, I grew up around it. I've always been interested in shooting and when I was younger, my grandad showed me one of his old Leica film cameras, he let me play around with it. It's kind of like a sentimental kind of thing, moments like that I hold really close to me and then I studied photography at school, I did it for GCSEs and at college and now I'm at uni, I studied at as a degree. It's always been a clear thing to me."
Who inspires you now among photographers?
"It's not just newer photographers, there are others who inspire me to. People like Greg Dildren, Robert Frank, he's an American street photographer, there's loads and then within the scene, knowing people like Vicky Grout are about, it's incredible. I like to focus more on street and landscape photography although I remember before I even went to uni, I thought I wanted to do fashion photography. I did fashion promotion & imaging for my foundation course before I started my degree and then I realised I needed to take some time out, imaging and capturing what I wanted rather than following certain styles.
I thought I wanted to be a fashion photography and I thought I wanted to go and study it but the experience made me realise that my work wasn't as strong as it could be."
Is it important is it for content creators to get out their comfort zones?
"Definitely, in subjects you learn at school, college or uni, your tutors will always push you to go out of your comfort zone, no matter what you are studying, you're meant to do that. I feel like it's helped me so much, I remember being pushed to shoot a certain style and working with other people that I didn't normally connect with, that right pushed me straight away because I didn't how easy it would be to work with them, how they'd contribute towards the work-ethic and stuff like that. Being pushed is so important, not only because you learn new methods when you're shooting, you also learn that not everyone shoots the same as you, not everyone is going to like you or your images, being pushed out of your comfort zone makes you stronger mentally."
How do you capture the energy of what's going on in your pictures?
"You know what, I always have a small camera on me because I never know what's going to happen. I have my little point-and-shoot camera around my neck and because I want to enjoy the show as much as everyone else in the room, I feel like having a small camera allows me to enjoy it as much as anyone else but at the same time, when I see a specific moment or if I feel like something is going to happen, I quickly whip it out and I try to capture what's going on. The fact that's it's film and in a really cramped environment, it adds a certain energy to the image. It's one of those things where you try to get really high up in the room because everyone else is just moving about. Most of the time, it works out really well with the grittiness of the film and the flash as well, it compliments the real power and energy you get from the show. I don't like to miss out on anything whenever I'm at an event.
I hate getting out my phone all of the time to shoot stuff because then when I'm shooting at the same time, I might shoot stuff that I've already posted on my Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter, it kind of ruins my photos so I allow my camera to do the talking. I have copies of every single photo I've taken, I even make my photos in the dark in black & white form. It's really important for me to have photos from the events I've been at it, I can really feel the energy from the shows when I look at them."
It's nice to have physical forms of your work.
"Exactly, it's very nice to have it in my hands, to be able to look at it instead of my screen you know what I mean. Whether I want to put it on my wall or if I want to make some prints or if I want to give it to someone like if I took it to a show with me and be like "look, I took a photo of you". I remember when I took a picture and it had Capo Lee, Uncle Bantzz and PK in it, they all told me I had to make a copy of it for them so we can put it on our walls, it makes me smile when I can do stuff like that."
What's the best thing you've learned from your experiences so far in film photography?
"I feel like with film, you've got to learn how use it. You have to think, you've got 24 or 36 images on that role of film and whatever images they are, you're paying a certain amount of money because then you're going to have to have these images developed. You've really got to slow down because each image costs so much money nowadays, shooting film really teaches you to slow down. It's so rewarding to see the final outcome of a photo where everything's perfectly exposed, everything's in line, that's what I love about photography, it makes me think about what I'm doing rather than go like "here we go, this looks nice, click, click, click". Before I take a photo, I have to think really hard about what I want the image to be of."
So you have to think ahead?
"Yeah definitely, I think it shows that I have to be prepared that not all my images will come out how I want it. You have to think ahead and think about what you're about to do. Photography has taught me so much, I'm an incredibly impatient person and I get frustrated easily but the only time where I have patience and not get frustrated is when I'm filming or shooting."
So film-making has a positive by-product of your photography?
"Yeah, it's taught me to slow down. I used to take on loads of things at once but then the outcome wouldn't be as good as it could have been if I'd slowed down, had patience and really dedicated time towards it whereas now when I'm shooting, I have to really focus. Not only do I have to take the photo, I have to develop the film, scan the images then open them up on a computer, it's a much longer process and you have to have patience with it.
People shoot with film nowadays for the sake of shooting with it because they can post it to their Instagram or other social media and say that they shoot film. I've had this discussion with so many people now, people have only taken up a media for the sake of social media platforms, I find it quite disheartening."
Who have you enjoyed the most taking pictures of?
"I've met so many amazing people whether it's through the music industry or whether it's through my own photography, it's allowed me to get a greater following on the Internet for them to see my images. There's not...I can't think of specific people because I feel like I am just getting started. I am so up for it, I'll be honest with you, 2017 is the year where I've properly just begun. It's new and exciting for me because...I dunno, it's just crazy that in a couple of months, I've been able to meet so many people at shows and through social media who have pushed my work out and it's been really nice."
What dynamics in terms of your style of photography interest you?
"Something I've really been focusing on at the moment is movement and the flow of a subject in an image, that's definitely been the thing most interesting to me at the moment. Before I was so focused on my photos looking crisp and clean with everything in focus whereas now my style has changed, I want to see movement, I want to see energy in the image because when I look at my own images. Even if no-one else is looking at them, if I see energy in them, it makes me feel a certain way.
When I can capture a certain energy in an image just from a photo at a show, I can look back at them and it feel so good. I don't even care if no-one else likes the image, being able to see the energy of people moving, dancing, waving their arms about makes me feel good even if they're not clean-cut images. That's what I look for every single time."
What are your future plans?
"I am trying to grind, I started a blog but I haven't posted anything there yet. I'm trying to write at the moment, I used to be good at blogging but I've had a long break from it. By the end of 2017, I really want something focused on myself, I'm not sure about it yet but I know that I'm just going to be grinding. I'm going to try and push my blog as much as possible and I want to do more shoots.
At the same time, I want to become a service technician at the end of my uni course. I want to do another course to become a technician at an university or a college because I always say to myself if my plans and dreams don't work out, I've got a backup plan. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that in a bad way like my plan's not gonna work out.
I'm really trying to work hard but even if my plans don't go how I want them to, I'm still going to be able to teach other people about photography which I really enjoy, I'd be allowed to put my own work alongside it and get paid for it. Money is such a motivator for people, me included, if you could get paid for doing something you love doing then why the hell wouldn't you do it."
All pictures used taken by Sabina. Find her website at http://cargocollective.com/sabinaspace.