All photos by Julija Felajn. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Film photography may now be in vogue among those looking for something different from the digital experience. The moody aesthetic, experimentation, and “happy accidents” also continue to be some of the reasons why film photographers continue to be hooked on the medium. But among all of these is the fact that film photos are timeless, as we can see in the nostalgic work of Belgrade-based Julija Felajn.
Julija took these photos with an old camera once used by her father, who used to be an amateur photographer. While he was fascinated with landscapes, she used it for portraits, much to her father’s frustration. “He still gets irritated when he sees me using f1.8, and he tends to scream, ‘Oh at least put it on f16,'” she recalled. The mix of photos she shared from her shoots with friends, and some self-portraits were “all untouched by Photoshop.” They didn’t need it then, and I think they still don’t need it now.
Many of the photos exude a vibe of experimentation and self-discovery for Julija while she was trying to figure out how to use the unnamed film camera. It’s especially noticeable in her self-portraits. But there’s also a good number of personal moments she photographed, made even more intimate by the look of film. “I also like the feeling of remembering someone or something what once was but is no more,” she captioned one photo. This suggests that the nostalgic effect of film photography proves perfect for her creative vision.
It’s also interesting to note that while Julija took these photos in 2011 — around the time we were starting to see film photography enjoying a stronger resurgence — they don’t look outdated at all. Nostalgic, sure, but not really outdated, as some may think all film photos look like. The colors and the grain definitely have a hand in the sentimental look the medium has come to be known for. But they also create an impression of depth and warmth that many of today’s photographers seek to achieve with their digital work.
On a side note, I have no way of knowing whether Julija continued to shoot with her father’s camera. Her Behance portfolio, from where we found this body of work, hasn’t been updated since 2011. I can only hope and imagine she’s having a great time capturing nostalgia with it. No better tool to do it with than a camera with a personal history!