#FILMFORYALL: ALLY ISEMINGER
We at Cute Camera Co. believe film should be for everyone, and as such, we've had the pleasure of connecting with as diverse an array of people as one could hope for. To our excitement (be still our film-loving hearts!), the pool of fellow film photographers seems to be growing by the day.
As we grow together, we've also been growing more curious, and so we want to hear more of your stories. We want to find out what drives you, the film photographer, and hopefully help to inform, inspire, connect, and share the fun!
Today let's meet Ally Iseminger (@allyise on IG), based in Chicago. All photographs taken by Ally on her Cute Camera Co. Minolta X-700.
1. How did you get started shooting film? Is film your preferred method of making photographs?
I got started shooting film in 2019 by taking disposable cameras to DIY and house shows as a way of documenting the night in an easy-to-carry-in-your-pocket way. I quickly switched over to a reloadable 35mm from there, because I hated the wastefulness that came along with disposables. I was immediately drawn to film photography due to the thoughtfulness that goes into each shot- you can’t just take continuous photos like on digital. Each photo on film has a purpose. Now, four years later, film is my primary method of photography when it comes to documenting my life and all the candid moments that come along with it.
2. What camera and film stock did you use to make these photographs? Do you have a favorite camera and/or film?
I just switched over from my Canonet QL 25 to my Minolta X-700, and I love it! The switch from rangefinder to SLR has been so very nice. I mostly shoot using Portra 400, but also really enjoy using Superia 400, Portra 800, and Cinestill 400D. I might be biased, but when it comes to 35mm, I just love the Minolta X-700. When it comes to favorite film to shoot with, I would say Portra 400 as well, but I do love the look of Kodak Gold, so I’m hoping to explore that film stock next.
3. What has your experience been in the film community? Both in person and online?
Contrary to popular belief, I’ve had a rather positive experience within the film community. I moved to Chicago without knowing too many people and have found friends from simply going to my local film lab. Also, just walking around with my film camera has introduced me to so many people. Seeing someone else with a film camera, either 35mm or 120mm is just so exciting and makes it so easy to strike up a conversation. I once met someone while on vacation in Salt Lake City that saw my camera and noticed I accidentally had it set to bulb. If he hadn’t have stopped me and told me, all of my vacation photos would’ve been ruined! Online, I’ve had my fair share of unsolicited advice but it doesn’t truly bother me. Whenever critique comes up, it doesn’t upset me, but rather pushes me to want to learn more about film photography.
4. How did you find out about Cute Camera Co.?
I follow a lot of film photographers on Instagram that influence me. I am a huge fan of @nuclearfairy, and she had tagged Cute Camera Co. in something a while back, and I had followed from there. Previous to Cute Camera Co., I had thrifted all of my film cameras from antique malls, but it was such a gamble as to if they worked. I knew I wanted to upgrade my setup and chose Cute Camera Co. because I knew the camera would come tested and I didn’t have to worry about wasting my time.
5. What is your favorite thing about shooting film? Why is it important to you?
As silly as it sounds, I feel more connected to the past through being a film photographer. I can see photos taken in the ‘60s and be able to recognize the film stock that was used, and in a way that makes the photos feel modern to me. I didn’t realize this until I came across Bob Dylan’s album, Nashville Skyline. The photo on the cover (taken by Elliott Landy) was definitely taken on a 35mm camera back in 1969, but I can view it as a modern photo, and that is just amazing. I’ve grown such a deeper appreciation for photographers simply because film photography is and will always be timeless.
6. Do you have any advice for fellow film shooters?
My advice to fellow film shooters is never feel embarrassed to ask questions. It took me 6 months of shooting to finally have a roll with no complications, which may seem tiring, but it was so very exciting to live out the journey of it all. Also, find photographers that inspire you and build a mood board. For me, I am a huge fan of Linda McCartney and Dora Maar. I highly recommend checking out their work if you’re looking for a starting point. Women in photography are so cool!
Interested in being featured? Tag us on Instagram in your Cute Camera Co. photos or use #filmforyall.