Hello! My name is Daniel Novak ( @danielnovakphoto ) and I am a film photographer based in Buffalo, New York. I dipped my toes into film photography in back in 2015 and in 2018 went full in head first and have been film only ever since.
I don’t remember what exactly it was that interested me in film photography, but it must have been the alternative to our increasingly digital lives. What’s not to like about going on a hike with a film camera, developing the film after dark or on a rainy day, and then printing a few frames in the darkroom without ever touching a computer? It also freed me from the computer time on vacations. No more evenings spent downloading photos, making backups, charging batteries. Instead, I can be on the vacation.
I started in film photography twice. The first time was with the help of my Dad who was also a hobbyist photographer and he introduced me to black and white 35mm film while I was in middle school. My Dad also taught me the basics of darkroom printing. I would take my camera on school trips and then print photos for the class. I continued this through high school but then dropped photography at the university. Then 2015 came and something possessed me to buy a Nikon FE on eBay. I started with black and white due to its familiarity, later expanded to color negatives, and finally to slides. I do al of my film developing, scanning, and printing myself as the process is part of what I love.
I started with landscape and nature photography and I still love that the most. Not only do I get to enjoy photography while appreciating the natural world around us it also gets me off the couch. In this world packed with technology and screens of all sizes it is nice to leave that behind as often as possible. I do like a good dose of nostalgia too though and like small old towns, road trips, Route 66, and travel photography.
I definitely went through the infamous GAS stage in 2018 and 2019 but believe I am now a recovered addict. I am focusing on using the equipment I bought to get the most out of it and my experimentation is with the process now. However, compliments of my GAS stage I do have a small camera collection in 35mm, medium format, and even large format. In 35mm, my original Nikon FE is still my primary, mostly for black and white photography. In medium format, I have not settled on one favorite yet but really enjoy the simplest ones, my two TLRs: a Yashica LM and a 1940 Rolleiflex Automat. Both with a fixed lens, light weight, just the perfect fit for outdoors hikes. In large format, my Intrepid MK4 is my choice again mostly due to its compact size and light weight.
For outdoors in 35mm, Kodak Double-X. I love the tonality and its ISO 250 is very versatile. For landscapes with blue skies it definitely needs an orange or a red filter due to its spectral sensitivity but then it gives great results too. In 120, I really enjoy Fomapan 400. It’s low cost and gives me great results in both XTOL as well as D-23. In 4×5, Fomapan 100 or Fomapan 400.
I keep a Nikon F4 loaded with high speed film for impromptu indoor photography. My top choices are Cinestill 800T or Kodak Portra 800. Combined with an f/1.8 50mm lens on the F4 these films allow me to almost always be ready for the moment.
Everyone is different so do whatever you enjoy and don’t let others hold you back. That being said, I’d recommend keeping it simple. Start with one camera, one or two film stocks, one developer, and get comfortable with the whole process. In 2019, I wrote an article for Emulsive that might help too: “How to take the leap into 35mm film photography”.