If you ask any film photographer about what keeps them shooting with the medium, I’m sure that among the reasons you’ll get is the community and its collaborative spirit.
I am often inspired by collaborations between fellow film photographers across the globe, and how they go beyond the distance to put their ideas to work. Such was the case when I came across a film photography project by Warsaw-based Erik Witsoe together with two of his friends whom he has never met — yet.
Titled “We Have Never Met,” the project began with Erik suggesting to his friend Maria Ciurla from Cluj-Napoca in Romania that they document their daily walk using their Nikon FM2 cameras. But that they’d share a roll of Kodak Portra 400 film. He followed it up with a second set of snaps shot on Kodak Ultramax 400 rolls with Kenny Gabbay, who also lives in Warsaw — yet they have never met yet as well.
Collaborations between film photographers aren’t uncommon. Still, I find this to be an interesting way for creative minds who are far apart to scale the distance.
Exploring together and apart
On his project statement, Erik explained that the project was intended to be a fun way for him and his fellow film photographers to visualize and appreciate their surroundings. You can see their set of images below.
“Maria and I have never met, but have admired each other’s work for some time and this admiration is the real backbone to the project and our shared love for film and our surroundings that inspire us.”
“Kenny and I both live and work in the lovely city of Warszawa but have never met. We walk the same streets, live in neighborhoods not far from the to other and often shoot in the same places, but still, we have never met. We have probably passed one another on the street, rode a tram or metro or just missed each other where we get our film developed. Warszawa is a big city but all things considered, it’s not that big especially since we are both foreign.”
I like how Erik and his friends used a single roll of film to embody their idea of exploring together and apart. To amplify their virtual shared experiences, they decided not to tell who shot which photo and let their individual style speak for themselves.
A shared collection of everyday moments
I see “We Have Never Met” as a straightforward collection of everyday moments that Erik hopes to one day spend in actual company of these distant and not so distant friends. I also find it interesting that while Erik and Kenny are both in Warsaw but have never met, their photos give the impression that they actually took these walks together and took turns shooting with a single camera.
Here are photos from Eric and Kenny’s set:
I also like how all these slices of life seem to fuse together into one collective memory. It’s honestly hard to tell the shots apart, but I guess everything works as is. Erik also mentioned that part of the plan was to make a zine out of this project and I do hope they push through with it one day. Projects like this are great examples of how film photography is a great medium for exercising creative collaboration. So it would be great if all three photographers could come together and work on topping off this project with a tangible form.