For those of us who have been shooting with film for many years, it can be easy to forget how daunting it can be to learn the sometimes confusing world of analogue photography. Where to start? What camera to use? How to even load the thing! Thankfully, UK-based Marina Llopis is here to help. She set up the platform IFWEFILM, which hosts and conducts regular workshops, mentorships and even has a Youtube channel dedicated to learning everything you never knew about film photography. She talked to us about her time living in Japan and about her journey from hobbyist to entrepreneur.
Hello Marina please introduce yourself to our community?
Hola! I’m Marina Llopis, a professional film photographer and the founder of IFWEFILM. I am originally from Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea but currently living in Bristol, UK. I am an inveterate lover of all kinds of analogue cameras and recently self-diagnosed with filmogenes and camerogenes syndrome.
Tell us your story of how you became so invested in film photography?
My love affair with analogue photography began when I was 13 years old. My father gave me a beautiful Nikon F-301 and I completely fell in love with it. My eagerness to get more and more into photography made me combine high school with my first photography course and I started to look for inspiration in other photographers. It was during this period that I found inspiration in Japanese photographers such as Kawauchi Rinko, Moriyama Daido, Ueda Shoji, or Honma Takashii who captivated me deeply. After finishing high school, I knew for sure that I wanted to dedicate myself to photography and it was at that moment that my older sister, who had been living in Japan for 7 years, made me the proposal that changed my life completely: to go to Japan to study photography. It was something that I didn't hesitate for a second and at the age of 18, I took my suitcases and went to study in Japan. In the end, I lived in Japan for 5 years and without exaggeration, it was the most transformative period for me, both personally and as a photographer. I fell head over heels in love with analogue photography and I took with me a lot of learning that made me enhance my creative capacity and my being.
Throughout all these years I have always been involved with analogue photography, whether I was doing exhibitions or working in photo labs, but it wasn't until I moved to Bristol in April 2017 that I decided I wanted to share everything I had experienced and founded IFWEFILM. I have been teaching analogue photography workshops since founding IFWEFILM and sharing both tips, reviews, and experiences on both Instagram and Youtube. I'm currently working on finally launching my online analogue photography courses in May 2021 so there are some very promising projects coming up!
Where do you see film photography going in the future, what role do you think analogue methods will play in the industry as a whole?
My vision for the future of analogue photography is certainly very positive. In the last decade, analogue photography has had a beautiful renaissance that I believe will not remain just a fad, it will be around for a long time. It is possible that there is a certain risk for the analogue camera market as at the moment no more units are being produced and the demand is increasing. However, I know that thanks to new technologies we will be able to solve this problem and even introduce new accessories and equipment that will bring new perspectives into the analogue world.
However, there is one issue that I believe could be quite a decisive factor in the survival of analogue photography in the long run: Sustainability. We all know that unfortunately, analogue photography is not a very environmentally friendly practice (the film itself, plastic pots, chemical waste...etc). That's why I think we still have a long way to go to improve these aspects so that each one of us can enjoy analogue photography without necessarily burdening the planet. There are more and more people aware of the environmental impact we are leaving and fortunately many people (myself included) and many collectives have taken the initiative to create new alternatives to these problems, so the good things are still to come.
What made you want to decide to become a teacher of all things analogue?
I decided to dedicate myself to teaching analogue photography as I truly felt that sharing my knowledge and experience was my way of thanking the world for all the powerful learnings and lessons I have experienced so far. My father used to tell me a phrase that I have engraved in my mind: If you sow love, you will reap love. Life has given me countless experiences for which I am deeply grateful, so it is time to transform all this love I have received to create a positive impact on as many people as I can.
As a woman in the industry, do you find you come across issues, and if "yes" how do you best tackle these problems?
We already know that throughout history there has never been a lack of talent in us and that we’ve been and are surrounded by wonderful and talented women in all areas. However, it is a reality that despite being in the “modern and advanced” world that we live in, there are still many inequalities between genders, and that above all, there is a great problem in terms of the visibility of the work of female artists. As I’ve been investigating the matter and as I have been asking female artists about how they feel about this issue, I have realized that there is a feeling that most of us share (and I include myself the first in this). That feeling of not believing in yourself at all, of hardly recognizing the value of the work you are doing. That sensation of being more judged than others and being many times plunged into a sea of insecurity that even leads to other people's comparisons. However, I would like to send the following message to all women: We are not alone and there are many of us, so let's stick together and once for all, let’s begin to believe in ourselves and in what we do. Please share, spread, expand and promote the work of female artists and above all, remember that a great change first begins with oneself and, as Eva Perón said, only women can save women.
What kind of people come to your tutorials and what are they looking for?
The people who attend my workshops or the one-to-one mentorships I offer, come from a wide range of ages and nationalities. In fact, this is an aspect that I am very happy about
because it means that this love for analogue photography transcends all barriers. Although all these people come from different backgrounds and ages, they all have in common an irremediable desire to learn how to use their analogue cameras and a huge passion to push their creative potential to new heights.
If you were only allowed one camera and film to shoot for the rest of your life what would you choose?
What a difficult question! Can I make several clones of myself and have them carry more cameras and films? Nope? I guess not... Well, if this hypothetical situation happened, I would use my favorite camera, the Nikon FM3A and I would have Kodak Color Plus in bulk the equivalent of what I shoot in a year so that I can shoot for the next 80 years.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the long term are quite promising. I have many projects in mind that I am certain will have a huge positive impact on the film community. This year my main goal is to launch my online analogue photography courses in both English and Spanish. Although here I’d like to clarify one thing: the truth is that I’ve bought online courses myself from other fields and in most cases, I was quite disappointed with them. Because they were either super boring or because they didn't delve into what I wanted to learn. That’s why these online analogue photography courses are totally different from what is on the market. Apart from the fact that I have created them with all my heart, they are super close and interactive in which while I explain concepts I ask students to touch the camera to do mini exercises with me and why not, while we have fun and laugh together (yes, I have to confess that there will be some bad jokes in them too) If all goes according to plan, the first beginner course will be ready by mid-May 2021. So I'm dedicating all my time and energy to make this happen and I'm really looking forward to it!