This interview was originally published in December 2015 on my old Zenfolio website. I initially conceived this project as an interview series on my blog but I got poor response for written interviews. About a year later, after my Youtube channel was launched and growing, I would start a live video interview series with other film photographers. I believe the seeds of that project started with this interview I did with Sharon over a year ago. Hope you will enjoy. All images in this post by Sharon Heit.
Introduction to the Film is Not Dead! interview series: I've been really getting into film photography lately. I find myself shooting on film as much as digital now and have been seeking out other photographers who share my passion for the medium. With this in mind, I decided to start a series of interviews with other film photographers, called Film is Not Dead! This interview is with Seoul-based photographer Sharon Heit. Sharon has gained much recognition for her series of portraits called Unguarded. Her photos have been featured in publications such as Lomography and Whattaroll magazines. She was most recently published in volume 3 of Girls on Film. You can see more of her work on her website: sharonheit.com. (Fair warning: if you're viewing the site at work, some of her images are NSFW). Without further ado, here is the interview.
1) When did you first pick up a camera and start getting into photography?
I don’t remember when I started digital photography, only that I got into shooting during the years that I traveled extensively. I specifically remember my first experience with film photography (as more than just documenting my life, like when we were kids with our disposable cameras and 110mm cameras). I went to San Fran to visit a friend. She was shooting on a Holga and I was really intrigued by this idea of lo-fi. It was the first time I really looked at photos as an art. I picked up a Diana F+, but I didn’t get the hang of it. I ended up selling it off because it was too expensive to “figure out.” Eventually, I got back into film and bought another Diana F+.
2) With the growth of digital photography, why do you still shoot film?
Film has more emotion, more heart, more life. It makes me feel something. It feels more “real.”
3) What is the general state of film photography in South Korea? Where do you buy film? Where do you get it processed?
I think there’s a huge community of film photographers in Korea. Analog in general is back. I think as people become more skilled, as equipment becomes more advanced, lovers want to return to the what film FELT like. This is just my experience, and there are plenty of digital photographers I very much respect and am inspired by, but there’s a lot that feels very sterile to me. Hyper-digitized and hyper-manipulated feels cold and fake to me.
4) I know you use both black and white and color film. What kind of film do you shoot? 35mm? Slide film? Medium format?
I usually use color. I have used black and white before and my favorite photographer (Mary Ellen Mark) used black and white (except for her series on India) and I respect black and white a lot. But there’s a lot of mood in color for me, so I tend to stick to that. I shoot both 35mm and 120mm.
5) How do you go about making your subjects relax and be more comfortable in front of the camera?
Um, I dunno what I do that makes this easier for the subjects. I’m actually quite an awkward person. But I think that comfort comes from knowing I’m not trying to exploit them. I want to tell their story and I want to show their beauty.
6) Do you have any upcoming projects (short term or long term) that you are working on?
I’m working on publishing a photobook. But it’s long term, no rush. I want it to be right and I want it to happen naturally and organically, not because I was trying to meet a deadline.
7) In addition to all your portraits, you have a lot of interesting street and travel photography in your portfolio? Do you have any plans to travel to other places in the near future?
I HOPE! I haven’t traveled in a while, but there was a time when I traveled quite a lot. I hope to be able to do that again in the future.
8) Where can people find out more about your work?
Everything is linked from my website: www.sharonheit.com. Let’s connect ^^