Film News: Washi Paper Film
Recently I was contacted by Lomig Perrotin about a type of film that he has been working on. Lomig has created Washi Paper film to bring us a fascinating and different method of shooting film. I got to ask him a few questions about it. Check it out.
First of all, welcome to JCH, please tell us about yourself.
I am a french photographer, 31 and currently working in an Analog Lab in Paris. I had the luck to grew up surrounded by lens as my father was an amateur photographer and a passionate collector of old camera. I started photography 14 years ago while going in a trip in Northern Ireland with friends. Back in France I began to use my fathers dark room to make my own black & white prints and that was it…
I really love the materiality of film processing so I never turned digital. I also prefer old and simple camera, speed or aperture priority are already too much for me… I could define myself as a contemplative photographer: I like to take my time to take pictures and very often I don’t take any pictures at all. I am not a believer in the «decisive moment», in fact most of the times I don’t even have a camera with me.
So you create your own film. What inspired you to do this?
I always like to construct, experiment and especially try to make my own version of things. When I was a child I was a big fan of MacGyver, so I grew up with this idea that you can do almost anything on your own.
Two years ago I was working on a serie of cliché-verre (http://lomigperrotin.com/works/verre/index-en.html ) and I was looking for an easier medium to draw on. So I tried to make my own paper negative inspired by the pionneers of photography like Fox Talbot or Gustave Le Gray. But it first came out that this new Washi Film have it own soul and interest so I never try to draw on it and decided to develop it as far as possible.
Where do you want to see this film developing in the future?
I have a lot of projects and ideas, but not enough time to explore all of it. One of my main long term goal is to improve the process of making the films, to be able to produce more in the same time and with the same quality. Improving the sensitivity both in lenghtwave and ISO would be a great step too.
On a shorter term I also really want to add the 8×10 to the list of available format, because a good numbers of users are already asking for it. I already produce few 8×10 sheets and the results are very interesting.
I also try to don’t forget that I originally create this film for my own photographic projects, so I am actually exploring reverse process to obtain black & white washi slides and even it’s really complicate to achieve, I am quite happy with the first results. Using this technique I have started a work of still-life of data support like hard-drive, floppy disk, video cassette… the idea is to question the way we store information and who we lose it through the obsolescence of things.
It must have caused a lot of headaches to make this, what kept you going?
I am really amazed to see pictures washi users share on the dedicated Facebook group ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/669834733047409/ ) . It’s a great joy to see that people are able to create beautiful pictures from small rolls that you crafted yourself in a small red lighted closet. Especially considering the fact that Washi is not an easy film to shoot and most of customers are using it for the first time.
Another thing is that peoples are so enthusiastic and supportive when they find out about this crazy idea of handcrafting your own film that I owe them to keep going. Today, a lot of people think that photography is a magic gift that come from the sky and that cannot exist without big company. I want to show them that film photography is no miracle but something simple and real.
Because tracing paper, which was my first choice, didn’t react very well in water and common plastic are not so easy to coat. Washi paper are usually used for watercolor painting so I guessed it could fit my purpose and indeed it works (almost) perfectly. It’s a surprisingly strong material, transparent too and its beautiful fiber give it a very special touch that make it unique.
Other than your own, do you have a favourite film?
I am not really a film fetishist, so I use a lot of different rolls depending of the technical aspects of the current project I am working on. But I begin with Ilford HP5 and must said that I use it more than others because of it’s great flexibility. I used to push it very hard during process, with higher temperature to explode the grain. In color I recently try the Adox Color Implosion which is very fun to shoot, but for more serious works I love the Kodak Portra 400.
Where can people get your film?
Directly from my website www.lomig.fr , I ship films worldwide and I already send films to 19 different countries. For now the film production is limited so orders are managed on a waiting list.
There is also a few shop, mostly in Paris but also in England and Belgium which propose Washi Film on their shelves and I would be of course very happy if other shops around the world would consider to proposes Washi Films to their customers. The internet is very interesting to make business, but for me it’s a very important point that customers could walk in real shops and talk directly about how to use the films, how to process it and share experience about this special product.
Any words for the film community?
Since almost a decade the rest of the world is telling us that analog photography is going to fall into oblivion. So it’s very important to deliver a clear message that there is still a future for film.
Of course we can’t go back in time and pretend things never change. In fact, if you look at the history of photography, you will find out that at the beginning of the 80’s all major brand were already looking for a way to stop using silver for a simple reason : the world consumption of silver was between 13 000 and 17 000 tons per year while the production was between 7000 and 9000 tons. The gap was filled by recycling silver but it was obviously not sustainable on a long term. So in a way, I know it’s a bit provocative, digital photography saved film photography, reducing it to a much smaller and sustainable scale.
And now, against all odds, film photography is still alive, fortunatly there is actually a trend for it and it’s really a good thing but now we must go further. We can’t just hang on to the remaining analog products and desperetly scavenge the internet to find that « old stock of expired and discontinued films we used to love so much ».
Now we must have a dynamic attitude and explore both old and new ideas to create new products. We are the future of film photography so let’s make it happen.
Lomig PERROTIN – Film Washi