Interview: Seth Gaffar

“I think the big change I have noticed since moving to shooting film is striving to make more authentic images…”

Seth’s work is incredibly interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who has such tasteful first of the roll shots or light leaks. Much of his work is based on coastal living and captures a life that inspires. I love his work and look forward to hearing what he has to say about film photography. His instagram account can be found here.

JM – Why do you shoot film?

SG – I shoot film for the love of the process and the challenge. I know a lot of people talk about quality or the archival aspect but I just love the whole process of shooting film so much more than digital. I feel that with film you really focus on every shot; there is no looking at the back of a screen to take you out of the moment…

JM – What is your favorite film?  Camera?

SG – I think my original love and the reason I really got into film photography, the Nikonos V, would have to be my favorite camera. 

SG – Although I am a big time Kodak Portra fan and user, that is just so boring. Haha. I actually really love Fuji Superia but unfortunately it is getting harder to find these days. This shot was taken with my Nikonos V on Fuji Superia 400.

JM – What proportion of your shots turn out as you hoped (or better)?

SG – Hmm… That is a tough question. I would say it depends on what I am doing and what camera I am using. It took me a while to figure out the Nikonos. There were a few rolls I shot in the water that were total duds with maybe only a couple okay shots. It is a funky camera with zone focusing and shooting surfing with a 35mm camera in the water, you really have to get closer than you think and wait for just the right moment to click the shutter. I would say now most shots I get I am pretty happy with because I am more patient. I usually swim out with just a 24 frame roll and it might take me two hours or more to finish it.

SG – But lately for instance I have been playing around with double exposures on my mamiya RZ67 and that can be very hit or miss for me.

JM – Would you say that your style has changed since you’ve started shooting film? What was the catalyst for this change?

SG – I think my style has always been and will always be an evolving thing. I think the big change I have noticed since moving to shooting film is striving to make more authentic images and getting away from the super saturated epic sunsets. I have learned to really enjoy the process of being out shooting and I am much more patient now. Instead of going crazy shooting image after image, I wait until I see something I want to capture. In a way I think it trains your eye more than digital photography can.

“I think film has made me really appreciate the happy accidents and the images I get that were not as planned out.”

JM – What is a personal goal you have for your photography?

SG – A personal goal I have for my photography is to capture more authentic everyday moments and to try to capture more of my life through photos. I have been really into shooting landscapes and surfing, but I want to try to have a camera on me more often for everyday moments. I think film has made me really appreciate the happy accidents and the images I get that were not as planned out.

JM – What do you look for in a photograph?  Is what you find compelling in a photograph different when it’s one of your photographs compared with one from someone else?

SG – I think whether it is my own photograph or someone else’s makes a difference. The images I am drawn to have a composition that just pulls you in. I usually find that my favorite photos I have taken have a very clean and minimal composition. 

JM – What is your favorite shot you’ve ever taken?  What’s the story behind it?

SG – I am not sure if I can decide on one favorite shot, but I really love this shot I took of my friend Scott. The surf was really going off and we went out to this little secret spot. I had never seen surf like this in Maine. It was an epic day. After the session I left the roll in my Nikonos and forgot it was loaded. I opened the back before re-rolling it, and I was so worried I had ruined the whole roll! Luckily I closed it quick and just about all the shots were salvaged, and a bunch had some really cool light leaks. This one was my favorites. 

JM – If someone told you they were thinking of getting into film, what would your response/advice be?

SG – Do it! Haha, seriously though it has been so much fun for me. I fell like it really brought a whole new excitement to photography for me moving to shooting mostly film from all digital. It gives you a whole new layer of things to learn, and I just think it is a super fun medium to shoot with. 

SG – I also think it is really cool that for pretty cheap you can get gear that was, and still is top of the line in many respects. There are so many different types of cameras too. Since you can usually sell cameras for what you buy them for, (a benefit unobserved in digital photography) you can experiment with all sorts of gear. You can really find the perfect camera that matches your shooting style.

More of Seth’s work can be seen below:


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