Derek Corneau: Moments on Film


All images by Derek Corneau. Used with permission.

“You can shoot a 36 exposure roll of film and have in your mind the way the image will develop, but when you get the roll back you can be completely surprised how the photos actually come out. Also, you have to be patient while shooting film.”

“I am a 34 year old film photographer born and raised in St. Pete, Florida. I currently live in downtown St. Pete and enjoy capturing the energy of streets.” says photographer Derek Corneau. Derek is a film photographer and uses a Contax T2 & Canon AE-1. In his spare time, he runs Analogue Sunrise, which is film collective dedicated to film photography.

Though he loves digital too, he has a major affinity for film; as you can tell from his Flickr.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.


Derek: I got into photography around 1999. At first I was just going out a lot and photographing DJs and my skateboarding friends. It wasn’t until about 2007 that I began to get serious with Film photography. I realized that this tool (a camera) can be used as a form of expression and collecting my travels and other people I meet a long the way.

Phoblographer: What made you want to get in film photography?

Derek: It wasn’t anything I planned on doing. I was already shooting film from early on so I think in time it just became who I am.

Phoblographer: You work very simply with just a Contax T2 and a Canon A-E1. So to that end, you don’t consider yourself a gear head very much, right? I assume you’re mostly about getting the moment?


Derek: I am definitely not a gear head by any means. Less is more. And I feel like it’s more about the person behind the camera than it is about the actual camera you’re shooting with. I happen to love the Contax T2 because it’s easy to carry around and fits my style of street photography. People ask me all the time what’s the best film camera to shoot with? The truth is, I don’t have an answer for that. Find any old camera from a thrift store or eBay and start shooting to see if you really like photography. No need going out and buying an expensive camera just because everyone else is shooting with it.

Phoblographer: Why film? Why not digital? What about the process makes it so worthwhile for you?


Derek: Well first off, I love photography whether it be Digital or Film. I know quite a few people who shoot digital and they do amazing work and I love looking at images by other photographers. It’s so easy to spend hours upon hours browsing other photographer’s work. I don’t even own or have access to a high-end digital camera so I really can’t say too much about digital. I mentioned the camera I use fits my style of photography and the same goes with the fact that it’s film. There are obviously many reasons I shoot film but one of the things I love most about film are the imperfections you get from developing.

You can shoot a 36 exposure roll of film and have in your mind the way the image will develop, but when you get the roll back you can be completely surprised how the photos actually come out. Also, you have to be patient while shooting film. It’s quite easy for beginners to become frustrated with at first, especially since there’s no screen to look at, you can’t simply delete a photo and take the shot again. But the best way to overcome frustration is to keep shooting. Film has brought me more confidence in getting a little out of my comfort zone, which ultimately encourages growth. It teaches you to trust your shots and go for it. There is also wonderful community of film photographers but at the end of the day I respect anyone who gets out there with a camera be it film or digital.


Phoblographer: You’ve been working on a couple of projects, but one really stands out to me. Talk to me about God’s Waiting Room.

Derek: God’s waiting room is basically a saying about why so many older people live in Florida. I’m not sure where the term originated from but I thought it was fitting for the all the types characters I come across and photograph.

Phoblographer: Black and white or Color? What do you prefer and why? What films do you prefer?


Derek: Right now I’ve been on a black and white kick and shooting a lot with Kodak TMAX 400. Black and white does a really great job of capturing a certain type of mood. I’ve been shooting a lot in the south side projects in St. Pete where some of these neighborhoods can be quite intimidating. This area carries a certain energy that radiates off the streets and I love it. Black and white film seems to capture this type of energy best. It really depends on the mood I’m going for. Color can also contribute to different moods for different stories.

Phoblographer: Why is photography important to you? How do you feel it lets you express yourself?

Derek: Photography is one of the most important things in my life and has been for the last 10-15 years. It allows me to be free. Free from rules, constraints, stress from work and life. Nothing feels better then exploring the unknown with a camera, meeting interesting people on the streets and photographing them.