“I love the look of film. I like the grain, the light leaks, and the imperfections.”
A conversation about shooting film with Mike Caputo, film enthusiast and Hoya user
When did you first get into photography?
I’ve always had an interest in photography. Most of my memories are in photo albums taken with disposable cameras. I remember I took a photography class in high school and the funny thing is I failed. I spent more time and attention on the girls in class than my assignments. A more serious interest in photography developed over the last few years. Now it’s my number one hobby. Well, it’s tied with surfing, playing chess, shooting pool and riding my Harley.
What inspired you to start using Film?
A few things inspired me to start using film again. I love the look of film. I like the grain, the light leaks and the imperfections. I enjoy the wait and the analog process. Photography seems more enjoyable shooting film. That’s just my opinion. It’s like Harry Callahan said, “Opinion are like assholes, everybody’s got one.”
Was it hard to get the supplies you needed for the dark room aka the “Dark Toilet”?
Ye Olde Darktoilet! Haha, my little joke of a name for the darkroom I set up. No, it wasn’t hard to get the supplies. A nice fella had a bunch of gear he never used and gave it all to me. I met him through a mutual friend on Facebook. The wonders of social media. I’ve made some great friends through photography. It wouldn’t be hard to get all the supplies though. Anyone could set up a darkroom for a couple hundred bucks using eBay and craigslist.
What is your favorite part of the process of using film?
My favorite part of using film is printing. I really enjoy setting up the equipment and making hand made prints. I get a six pack of beer, put on a podcast (I’ve been listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and the Film Photography Podcast) and print away. I mostly print 5×7’s of family and friends and fill up albums. Watching the photo appear in the developer is awesome. Always gratifying.
Where did you find all the film and cameras for this video? I imagine it isn’t just lying around on the Big Island.
My never-ending film and camera collecting enthusiasm has me frequently looking at eBay and craigslist. I found a sale on craigslist for thousands of feet of 35mm and 16mm cinema film from a studio that was closing. I got it all! I sold all the 35mm cine film and used that money to buy a 16mm movie camera. I’m always hustling and trading and selling film and cameras.
Did you process the film yourself?
No way! I only process B&W film at home. Color film uses different chemistry and I don’t care to scan and edit color photos on my own. I send all the color film off to labs.
How do Hoya filters fit into shooting film?
Hoya filters are a requirement with me. At the minimum I put one on to protect the lens. I really enjoy using a red, orange and blue filters with B&W photography. Sure, I got a few tips. If you’re using color filters with black and white film you need to understand the cameras metering system or how many stops you need to adjust for the filter. And don’t try to take a photo of a black steer’s tukas on a moonless prairie night.
What other photo styles inspire you?
Styles that are not my own, inspire me. I’m not sure if I even have a style. I don’t really care enough about having a style to try and cultivate one. I just enjoy taking pictures and making short movies using film.
What three things do you find most satisfying about your photography?
Three things I find most satisfying about my photography… I’d say the act of taking photos, making prints and giving prints to family and friends. Sharing prints is always fun. Everybody enjoys getting a print.
Tell us about your favorite music/song/band? The music in the video matched the vibe perfectly?
I’m a bit of a music man. I play guitar and was in a band for a bit. Most of my closest friends are musicians. We recorded a lot of songs back in the day on 8-tracks and my playlist is filled with hours of songs all my friends and I wrote. As far as bands go: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jimmi Hendrix are a few of my favorites. I listen to a lot of blues and jazz and 60’s funk off 45’s. Whenever I set up the darkroom I usually listen to some Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”. Gets me in a printing mood. Lately I’ve been on a classical country kick, like Johnny Horton with “The Battle of New Orleans!” I love me some Honky Tonk.
Do you consider yourself a trend setter? Your ideas are fun and interesting, something that’s not easy to accomplish.
I’m not a trend setter. I don’t much bother with trends and fads and I never thought of myself as setting anything. I’m glad you think my ideas are fun and interesting though. That’s nice to hear.
Your ideas seem almost childhood inspired. What’s something you miss the most from childhood?
If my ideas seem childhood inspired I’d say that’s because I have two children that are 9 and 11 years old. Kids are the best. You get to be a kid again with them sometimes. I’d say the thing I miss most from childhood is the sense of wonder you have as a kid. It’s easy to get caught up in daily activities and forget you still have it. I make it a point to remember and create it again. Finding wonder in the simplest things is easy if you try.
Who do you follow on Instagram and why?
Instagram is great. It’s so great that I haven’t been on it in 6 weeks. That goes for Facebook as well. I was spending too much time on social media. I wanted to take some time off from social media and the internet: a vacation from digital media and blue screens. Luckily I’m a fireman and I don’t need a computer for work. Anyway, I’ve meet so many people and made good friends through Instagram. I also got some photography gigs through it too. Like this one. Naturally I follow all my buddies and family. I follow about 750 people. I’ll just mention the Dude here, @thejeffbridges. Did you know the Dude shoots Kodak Tri-X in a Widelux? He’s a film guy too. The Dude Abides.
Mike Caputo is a fireman living in Hawaii and when he’s not working, he’s out shooting film or having fun with his friends and family. Give him a follow on Instagram @aloha_bigmike.