“My creativity is fueled by all the restrictions I give myself,” says film photography enthusiast Andrei Certan, about how he guides his photographic vision. Almost exclusively an analog medium photographer, Certan lets his inner sentiments drive how he composes and frames photos. Seeing the work he shared with me for this interview, I think his emotions definitely put him on the right track.
Double exposures are easily achieved in post-processing these days; there are several phone apps that can do this. I’m not taking potshots at this method in any way – we can create visually intriguing images in a variety of ways. However, I have extra respect for those who achieve this in-camera. And I have even more respect when these shots are done using analog cameras. Certan’s work has inspired me to get some rolls of Cinestill and head out at night when the weather is cooler. Maybe I’ll even carry along some expired Kodak Ultramax and see what unpredictable images I can conjure.
The Essential Gear Used by Andrei Certan
Andrei told us:
As photography is a hobby for me, I don’t own much equipment. In fact I can list from memory all the cameras that I ever used.
The Phoblographer: Hi Andrei. Tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.
Andrei Certan: Hello everyone. I grew up in Eastern Europe, now living in France. My first contact with film photography was through my grandfather’s Zenit B. One day when looking through our family album, my mother said that the camera was used for taking some of the photos in it. It is still somewhere at my grandfather’s place. This, of course, sparked my curiosity, so I decided to run a roll through it and see what kind of results I could get. The shots came out pretty ok, so I decided to explore some more.
The Phoblographer: What helps you achieve your creative vision when you’re shooting?
Andrei Certan: For me, it is about exploring what I already know whilst creating something new at the same time. I rarely shoot the same object twice unless I have a new idea for it. So you can probably say that my creativity is fueled by all the restrictions I give myself. Inspiration can also come from a random conversation I’ve heard in the street, the light hitting a building in a certain way, or simply me being in a good mood.
The Phoblographer: What’s the fascination about with double exposures in your work?
Andrei Certan: Part of my fascination for the double exposures comes from the fact that they allow me to combine two worlds that don’t exist in close proximity, and I think it is quite challenging to have everything perfectly aligned.
The other part, seen in my double exposures with buildings, is the possibility to play with symmetry. I love a good challenge I guess.
The Phoblographer: People these days are obsessed with getting sharp images; you’ve chosen to go the other way. Was this a sudden or gradual shift?
Andrei Certan: It is definitely a gradual change, and I think it is a natural progression to play with blurry lines and colors at one point.
The Phoblographer: There’s clearly a lot of film era influence in your portfolio. Who or what are you main influences?
Andrei Certan: I’ve shot only film all my life, but I never looked up a photographer or tried to replicate someone’s style. It came naturally I think, sometimes seeing a photo from a famous photographer can inspire an idea. Fortunately, we live in a society where books and cinema are easily available for anyone, so there is a gigantic pool of talent yet to explore if one chooses.
I also love the fact that a photo represents a unique moment in time, captured on film. Check the photo Tempête à Nice. Février, 1925 by Jacques Henri Lartigue to get a sense of what I mean.
The Phoblographer: What are the things you normally think about when composing double exposures?
Andrei Certan: My answer will probably disappoint a lot of your readers, but all I think is lights and shadows or blacks and whites. If it works from this point of view, then it is about combining two things or making a symmetric double of it.
The Phoblographer: There’s no real right or wrong approach to multiple exposures. However, what makes you look at one of your photos and think “That’s a great shot!”?
Andrei Certan: …it’s got more to do with the meaning of the photo in relation to my inner feelings rather than composition or the right aesthetic, etc. Sentimental value first of all. And everyone has their own way of looking at one photo anyway.
The Phoblographer: Of course this challenge presents even more difficulty when shooting on film. Do you get a thrill with the unpredictable nature of this route?
Andrei Certan: Absolutely, the thrill of receiving your scans from the lab is second to none. It is the main reason I shoot film. It is hard to imagine the result when doing a 16x exposure photo, for example, but it is the kind of thing that keeps you coming back for more.
The Phoblographer: There is some surrealism too. We’d love to learn how you come up with these ideas.
Andrei Certan: The initial idea was very simple. Some of the buildings looked like spaceships in my mind when applying symmetry to the top part. So I tried it with a Splitzer and it worked. For those wondering what a Splitzer is, check the Lomography Splitzer. I have always used whatever I had in my hand; my credit card, my gloves in wintertime, essentially everything of black color to cover half the lens before shooting the first photo.
The Phoblographer: How do you deal with disappointment when film frames dont turn out as you envisioned. What do you go about correcting?
Andrei Certan: That’s a great question. I guess I don’t deal with it? It is very rare that I try a shot twice. If the result wasn’t the one I’d expected, then surely the idea wasn’t that great in the first place. Sometimes I execute it badly, then I will try to improve it. Or wait for the perfect conditions compared to the first try. But that’s about it.