Hipsters, We All Are. / by brasscollective

I am struggling to recall when did I started photography. 


I took it as a module back in grad school, when I was majoring in animation, but that wasn't it. 


It was back long ago when Kodak had those instant buy cameras which you wind and shoot. 

Practically BATA* cameras.

*A shoe shoe in Singapore, we couldn't figure out the acronyms, so we as kids thought of the term Buy And Throw Away, which pretty much fit the description of their products anyway.


Back then film was cheap, things were taken for granted, when digital came into the scene, it became an "analog" feature; something that is old school, usually expensive. 


Well, look at all the fuckin' hypoc- I meant hipsters film developing shops. They practically sell stuff like velvia and Provia for 800% of the price they sold twenty years ago. I don't wanna say names but it starts with a L. Then O. M. O. 


And because of the disappearing trade, film developing too became sacred, photo developing companies going bankrupt, or converting to digital printing shops etc. 


The price to develop films doubled over the years too. I know it's cheaper to develop DIY, but my room is only the size of a toilet cubicle, but longer. Singapore pigeon holes(HDB, we live in small spaces, pretty much like Hongkong) are very small, and I don't wanna risk the chances of chemicals catching fire with my cigarettes. It's not fun to get banned from smoking at home, not at all. 


I don't remember when, but I started hating clean stuff. 

Clean stuff meaning photos that look too digital, films that looks too video. 


It's just like how some guitarists prefer analog pedals than digital pedalboard. 


Maybe it comes with age. Or maybe I might had already evolved into a hipster. 


I like old films. Those Hong Kong movies, Hollywood films from the 80s, 90s. 


That film grain from the Super 35mm, 16mm, there's something beautiful about the aesthetic look to it. 


Fast forward to 2015, no one from Hollywood or Hongkong uses it anymore, lest for a few names like Wes Anderson who still prefer shooting in film, everything else is shot in digital.


Not that digital is a bad thing. It is good, it's highly cheaper than film, you get instant playback, and you don't have to carry huge rolls of film to location. 


But the dynamic range and aesthetic feel to it, is just something that can't be replace. 


Nowadays, there are companies like VSCO, Alienskin, DXO, Filmconvert that try to replicate film stock. I'm gonna admit, I depend a lot on VSCO and Filmconvert for my works. 

But there's just something missing in it, the hits and misses of using film. 


I only started from electronic SLR, the first Canon Kiss series, which had an inbuilt meter though it wasn't very amazing, but it works for me. 


The hits and misses are when the Kiss makes wrong judgement in evaluating the shot and you expose wrongly, sometimes getting underexposed or overexposed shots.


To me, to dodge and burn those, and getting the results was the fun part of photography. 


Now that everything is shot in RAW, even if you expose almost -2 or +2 EV wrongly and you can still get back most of the details, in a way. 


Of course one of the most annoying thing was that Kiss wasn't a 100% viewfinder, and sometimes I've no idea what the shot looks like until it's developed. 


There's a way to get around this, as what I've heard. Some European managed to zhng(hokkien slang for modify) his Leica M3 with a Sony sensor and LCD for live view. 


I still fancy the idea of shooting in film, but with the inflation prices of film stock and developing going higher and higher, my cigarettes just keep burning that hole in my pocket(in Singapore, cigarettes are very very god damn expensive) to remind me of that fact.


In my opinion, visuals have to be in-between clean and dirty, while framing has to be either minimalist or repetitive, pretty much like design. 


For now, I'm still happy with VSCO and Filmconvert. 


I'm still secretly hoping that there's a day I can do billboard shoots and justify to my lady boss(Sochii) that medium format 120mm is a good deal.


Henry is a film-maker, photographer, VFX artist, animator living in Singapore. 
Inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Hosoda, and the late Satoshi Kon, he pursued a career in 3D Animation, but somehow landed in Double Negative and ended up working on Hollywood feature films as a FX artist. 
His hobbies include molesting his cameras, his girlfriend and his cats. 
He also enjoys cooking Japanese dishes, however the Japanese groceries cost a bomb in the country he is living in.
He is an avid lover of coffee, cheese, chocolate and cigarettes, and is usually found at henry@brasscollective.com