French photographer Charles Schneider specializes in portraits and documentaries. He takes most of his photographs in 120 format and his images taken with our films have caught our attention. The photographer strives to create superb stagings of his models in his medium format compositions. We asked him a few questions to know more about his practice.
Hello Charles, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi! My name is Charles, I am 29 years old and I am a photographer based in Toulouse, south of France. I started photography 5 years ago out of curiosity and it has been my job for a year and a half now. I mainly do portraits and reports, at the moment I work mainly with musicians to craft the visual part of their projects
How was born your passion for images? And for analogue photography?
My first photographic memories come from my mother. When I was little she always had an old Olympus 35 mm camera with her. The camera had a panoramic mode which cropped images in 16:9. My mother took pictures during our trips and birthdays. When I lived in Scotland for a year, I wanted to do the same as her and take souvenirs, without any artistic pretension. Without knowing much about it, I bought my first camera, a Mamiya 4B and I started to take pictures of my everyday life, my friends, our outings.
What I immediately liked about film photography is the whole "ritual" around my photographic practice, loading the film, making images, and hoping that the settings were not too bad, going to the laboratory near my place and picking up my little prints. It wasn't until two years later that I bought my first digital camera.
You mainly take pictures in medium format, why did you make this choice?
I mainly use a Mamiya RB67 and occasionally a Bronica SQ-A. I tried several formats, from the half format in 135 to the 20x25cm large format camera and I think that there is not really a good or bad choice. The medium format corresponds to my way of working and what I expect from my photos. I love the details and the quality of the images you get with such a large negative, but above all the softness of the gradients, from my first portraits I was conquered by the rendering of the skins and the textures and it's always more creative to have the possibility of shooting with very small depths of field if we want to. I also find that the 6:7 aspect ratio whether in portrait or landscape is perfect for me and makes the compositions very interesting.
What do shooting portraits bring to you?
When I decided that I wanted to make a career in photography, my goal was to do reportage. I was thinking of the images of these reporters who went on an adventure with a Leica and black and white films as their weapons of choice. I think what I really wanted was to tell stories, and I think that's still what I try to do through my portraits. It's cliché but I think a portrait of someone is also a piece of a portrait of the person who took the picture, and in my case, it's my way of overcoming my shyness and social anxiety. After a photoshoot, beyond the result which can be good or less good, I am satisfied if the experience was pleasant for the person who posed in front of my lens.
What do you like about the LomoChrome Metropolis ?
I love the contrast of this film, and of course the color rendering. Before trying it I was afraid that the images would all look the same with just a lot of yellow and desaturation but I was very and pleasantly surprised by the rendering of all the colors, especially the green tones and the skins. I also noticed that the results vary depending on the light, whether the weather is nice or not and I find that early in the morning there is a kind of bluish tint in the shadows which I really like. Right now I think it's my favorite film to shoot.
"I love the contrast of the [LomoChrome Metropolis] film, and of course the color rendering."
And what about the Lomography Color Negative ?
When I decide to take color photos I want colors; the Color Negative 400 ISO and 800 ISO do exactly that, the colors are bright and saturated. These films have also a very good latitude, particularly the Color Negative 800 which I generally overexpose between ISO 200 and 400 to obtain images with more airy pastel colors. These are films that I always have in my bag because they are very versatile, whether for portraits, landscapes, or street photography.
Any ongoing projects, or future projects you'd like to tell us about?
I'm always trying to experiment with new ways of making images, whether it's with different cameras, lighting, or development methods. At the moment I am doing a lot of tests by loading my medium format with 135 film to make pseudo panoramic images to prepare a series of images with a more cinematic atmosphere than my usual work. It's not for now but I will continue to post all this on my Instagram as I move forward!