“I initially started shooting on digital but once I picked up the film camera, the digital had to take a back seat. Film was just too much fun and it gave me what I wanted. I haven’t picked up a digital since then but I would like to explore digital again someday”
WORDS: LANI SPICE
PHOTOGRAPHY: FRANTZ BIRKHOLTZ
Although you are currently based in Cape Town, we believe you are from a small town. Could you share with us a bit about where you are from?
Yeah, as a kid we moved around a lot and I have lived in random small towns all my life – Kleinzee in the Namaqualand, Orapa in central Botswana and Musina in the Limpopo to name a few.
You are known to be particularly passionate about film photography, when did this begin for you?
It hasn’t been that long. It was probably about 3 years ago I was given a film camera by my aunt. I fell in love with the difference it had to offer and I’ve been playing and experimenting ever since.
Your photographs seem to be mostly shot on film. What are your feelings towards digital?
I initially started shooting on digital but once I picked up the film camera, the digital had to take a back seat. Film was just too much fun and it gave me what I wanted. I haven’t picked up a digital since then but I would like to explore digital again someday.
You tend to shoot mostly in colour, is there a reason for this?
Aside from black and white being more expensive, colour is what I was introduced to and I wanted to explore that first. I have recently started shooting in black and white, also experimenting with shooting in the dark with a flash on and I’m sure intrigued and having a damn blast.
What is it about the medium of film photography that you appreciate the most?
I guess there’s a couple of answers to this, but I suppose the final product I get out of it fits my style closest. Then there is also the “lucky packet” factor. Because you can’t see the photos straight after shooting, it’s wildly exciting to eventually get the film back to see what you did and if it came out how you expected. Sometimes bad, often great or even exceeding your expectations, hence “lucky packet”.
Many photographers experience some frustrations when it comes to shooting on film, do you share any yourself and if so does it affect the way you shoot?
Yeah, I mostly use older film cameras so over the years the light meter will stop working or your film will bomb out in the camera because mechanisms aren’t working too well. Or the worst is when you’re shooting and the camera dies suddenly and you’re in the middle of nowhere and can’t buy batteries (rookie mistake).
Your photography feels as if the viewer is getting a direct view into your world. Would you say your subject matter is rather unposed and honest, almost a form of personal documentary?
Oh absolutely. I think that is kind of my style and something I enjoy the most. Because I have rather crazy friends I find myself in somewhat bizarre situations at times and it’s quite the art to sneak the camera out and snap them while things are happening organically and naturally. Like you said, documenting the true scenario happening at hand.
You are hardly ever seen without a camera in hand. Could you tell us what film you enjoy shooting the most and what kind of camera is your favourite sidekick?
This is difficult, as I am still so new to this game. I shoot on different film and Cape Film Supply usually sorts me out. They are great, and also give me lots of advice and guidance. I have quite a collection of cameras and try to play around with them all. The Olympus Superzoom 800s works well when I’m out on the town and I’m on the run and need to shoot chaos on the go. Otherwise I probably use my Pentax P30t (with 50mm lens) the most.
You are a man of many trades, could you tell us about your other skill sets and passions?
Yeah, I’ve done some randomly interesting things in the past after obtaining my degree in Drama and Theatre Arts. They range from theatre to stripping, to being a clown at kids’ parties, to name a few. Living in Cape Town for the last 6 years has given me the opportunity to land some roles for TV and film. More recently my good friend (Ruan Scott) and myself started a new venture (Local Motion) where we aim to tell stories through video. Our first video will be dropping soon – we shot with the band Black Lung.
You currently have two interesting zines out – Benzine and Smack. Could you give us more insight on them and are they still available?
Benzine is a photographic zine I did with Altus Brand and it was basically a collection of our own unconventional photos we gave to the world. Smack mag is an illustrated zine showing the humorous generalization of drug users. Benzine is sold out although we just might surprise you with a second edition. Smack mag is still available and you could get your copy at either Justus Kotze or myself or occasionally find it at markets etc.
Are there any other exciting exhibitions or projects you’ve been a part of?
There are a couple of interesting things in the happening but unfortunately, I can’t give out too much info just yet. I can say that there’s a photo exhibition, poetry zine, photo comic and another video currently in the making.
Do you have any favourite photographers or artists? Do any of these favourites influence your work and in what way?
This question is hard. Are you trying to nail me (ha ha)? I will probably have to give you a list of ten pages. There are ridiculously talented artists in Cape Town and I’m friends with so many superb photographers and I can honestly say I am inspired and learn from them every day. Internationally I would say David Lynch just because his weirdness resonates with me.
Frantz Birkholtz ///
INFO: Tumblr: frantzbirkholtz