EP. 8 - Women in Film Photography: Adventuring with April
Known as @ad.venturing on Instagram, April is currently based out of Los Angeles, California. Working with a blog and an Instagram page (like me!) April challenges herself and her creative process through these multiple mediums. In this interview, April reflects on her film photography journey (particularly post-pandemic) and gives us an intimate understanding into her artistic self-exploration.
- Introduce yourself. How old are you? Where are you currently based? How did you start your film photography journey?
Hello! My name is April del Castillo, and I am 30 years old. I currently live in Los Angeles, CA. I’m old enough to remember shooting disposable film cameras until early high school, but unfortunately the appeal of instantaneous digital photos was just too strong. It wasn’t until 2019 when I bought an Olympus OM-1 that I kickstarted my film photography journey. I started because I wanted a challenge, and the camera I bought had a nonfunctioning light meter. The mindset to shooting film is so different from digital, and it’s been great so far learning to gauge light and adjusting to my settings.
- I noticed that you pick certain items or scenery to be the focal point of your photographs. Tell us more about how you decide what to frame in your photos.
During the pandemic, I felt trapped because I created @ad.venturing as a play on my initials and the ‘adventures’ to different places I hoped to have. I had to reassess why I take pictures in general because I honestly don’t know what I prefer to shoot. I’ve recently accepted that it’s ok to feel this way – it’s part of my creative process. I tend to shoot with different photography projects I have in mind. They vary from me trying to express or capture a mood I’m feeling that week, to shooting a series of shots I want to have a collection of. Those types of projects generally dictate the subjects for my photos. My focal points change as I explore new mediums and find inspiration in different subjects.
- My favourite question to ask women in film is what your favourite film camera is to use? What film do you like to play around with the most?
All my favorite shots have been on Fuji C200 which I’m pretty happy about because it’s one of the least expensive film stocks out there at the moment. I recently bought a half-frame camera – an Olympus Pen FT, and it’s been my favorite as of now. It’s a compact camera with double the exposures, I get twice as many pictures in one roll. The only challenge for me is that now it takes me forever to finish a roll!
- Your website is gorgeous and might I add, a beautiful example of self-expression and exploration. Can you tell us how the website started?
My sister, who at that time was the only person I ever shared my pictures with, encouraged me to create the blog. I created my website to track my photography journey with no expectation that anyone would ever see it. It’s essentially a photo journal because I actually don’t print out my photos. In that space, I challenge myself to express a little bit more since I’m reserved and don’t offer much to what I post on Instagram.
I remember writing a post about the Campanile at Berkeley. While I stared at a picture, I could imagine the quietness of the campus and the smell of rain because the memory I associated with it is so engrained in my mind. Someone looking at the same picture might feel something entirely different which I love to hear about. I’ve had people reach out to me to share their thoughts on a specific picture which is a great experience as well.
Having a blog in parallel with shooting film has taught me to be more intentional about my photography – even when shooting digital. There is a memory associated with every shot I take, even the horrible ones. I can express to a ‘ghost’ audience what feelings a picture evokes or what if it doesn’t. The self-exploration aspect means that I can dive into thoughts I can’t always share anywhere else. It’s just a special place for me to explore my art in a way that makes me happy.
- If you had to send one message to the female film photographers just starting out, what would it be?
I’m going to be cliché – go out, shoot, and shoot for yourself. I feel as humans we are drawn to create, express and explore our feelings through art. I truly believe social media algorithms saturate and define what is popular, and that hinders personal creativity. Watch that video on how to load your camera, and go!
In order to discover your ‘voice’ in any art form, you have keep creating. Shoot things you love, things you’re uncomfortable with, or things you’ve never tried before. Then post it somewhere – but not for validation. Track everything that worked, and what didn’t. We forget that there is so much beauty in the process of learning!
- If you could travel anywhere in the world right now to shoot film, where would you go?
Italy. My sister and I have been dreaming of traveling together, gorge on pasta and gelato all day. I’m actually hoarding all my remaining Fujifilm 400h for our trip in 2022.
- Any cool upcoming projects we should be made aware of?
With my half-frame camera, I’ve been trying to shoot diptychs (check out @halfframeclub on IG for examples). Paired shots that hopefully tell a story. I’ve also dipped my toes in medium format, and I’m hoping to take more night exposure shots once I find my tripod!