S. Sandur gave up digital for the beautiful imperfection film can provide


"I am a self-taught photographer working under pseudonym S.Sandur. I started shooting film in 2010 and became interested in alternative techniques like double exposure and film soaking in 2016. The main focus in my work is nature and abstract shapes and forms that can be found in nature. I view my photography as a middle ground between alternative interpretation and familiar, recognizable images."


See more of S Sandur's work on instagram at @svsandur


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ALTER/ANALOG:  What processes did you use to create these photos?


SS: These shots were all made on soaked 35 mm film. I usually go for most affordable film or any expired rolls available; mostly it’s Fujicolor-C200/ Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400, Kodak Color Plus 200/Kodacolor Ultra Max 400. I soak my film for 24 hours or less most of the time, rinse in water for a day or so and leave them to dry for about a month. For soaking I usually use whatever I have in my house, never plan it in advance or acquire specific things to soak my film in. The “ingredients” are often organic things like juice, tea, salt, vinegar etc. Sometimes I use soap or washing powder, may boil a roll for a bit. I am pretty bad at remembering my “recipes” even though I try to write things down, I often end up not knowing or not being sure what I used for one roll or another. When it comes to developing/ scanning, I always let a professional photo lab to do the job. I am interested in the process of film developing but it’s not something I would like to do myself on regular basis. As for post-processing, I don’t edit my film shots besides occasional cropping and contrast adjustment.


ALTER/ANALOG:  Why is nature and abstraction such an influence to you?


SS: It’s hard for me to find an adequate answer to why it is so, but nature is something that never fails to lift me up even in the hardest moments when literally nothing else helps me feel grounded and alive. It’s something in me I guess, something intuitive and innate that makes me fascinated by every single flower, grass blade, tree, stone, and ripple on the water… It happened so that for me this appreciation of nature was translated to my art and eventually nature became my main subject. I am a very visual person and for me the process of creating my images is almost exclusively visual. I almost never have a vision of how my shots should look like eventually and just follow my gut feeling most of the time. At this point, I want my work to be a visual experience, free from elements of conceptualization, storytelling or activism. I admire artists who are able to bring visual and conceptual together or use their art to make a statement, but I guess I am not there yet.


As for abstraction, again, it’s not something conceptual for me or even intentional from a common point of view. If I had to explain it, I would connect it to my perception of visual art in general. I find a lot of beauty in shapes, patterns, colours and textures outside of the context, independently from any additional meanings, interpretations or references. Some of my “abstract” shots are intentional; of course I can’t foresee the final result, but I often look for not easily recognizable forms and patterns in nature that potentially would work well with soaking. Other shots are simply the result of film being damaged by the soaking to the point when the initial image is not discernible; it this case I still consider these images intentional to some degree, because as an artist I may choose not to show them to the viewer but if/when I do, it means that I do find this shot worthy of exposure, that this particular shot is balanced in terms of colour and shape/pattern and fits my aesthetic and perception of beauty.


ALTER/ANALOG: Why did you become interested in shooting film?


SS: When I was a teen I wasn’t exposed to film photography much because at that point everyone already switched to digital so I started my first photographic “projects” using a DSLR, but I was never quite happy with the results I was getting. At the time I was into all things from 80s and early 90s so I tried my best to reproduce that “old school” look shots from those times had. Back then I had little understanding of all the differences between digital and film and was just following my gut feeling. I was adding light leaks and noise to my digital photos using editing software but it was time consuming and never felt authentic. Then it occurred to me that I could save myself all the pains of photo editing and get a film camera. I was looking for imperfection, unpredictability, for authentic “old school” look and shooting film worked for me and eventually I got so much more than that. My style and subjects changed quite a bit since then but the core idea is still the same, I don’t want my shots be an exact replica of what I see in the viewfinder, I want to see something that wasn’t there to begin with.


ALTER/ANALOG: Where do you see your work going?


SS: From the point of my career as an artist, right now I am still in a ‘research mode’ I guess. I shoot film for almost 9 years now but I started sharing my work online very recently (September 2018). So at the moment I am taking my time to catch up with the community and research different opportunities out there, make myself aware of platforms, publications etc.


As for the work itself, I realize that I got stuck a little bit in terms of my equipment and materials. I have been using same cameras and lenses for years, shooting same types of film etc. At this point I know how to get my shots “right” in spite of the fact that with soaking/double exposure the result is never predictable. In years to come I would really like to stop playing it safe and finally switch to something different. Recently I became very interested in instant film photography and perhaps it will be something I would get into in the nearest future. I also have been shooting in the same locations for a long time and would like to make a change in that respect as well. I realize that when you work with nature and natural light it’s impossible to repeat yourself but sometimes it feels like I do. So I expect myself to finally say no to all my safe locations and explore something new, to put more work into finding new places.

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