Revolog Film Interview - An Exploration of Colour
By Paul McKay
What a treat! A conversation with two of our favourite Austrians in the whole world: the dynamic duo behind revolog films. revolog was one of the first brands to merge colour effects and exceptional branding to build a loyal fanbase of photographers. We sit down with Hanna and Michael to understand a little bit more about what drives them and what inspired revolog. The answers are fascinating! Note that the lower-case r of revolog throughout is a deliberate branding choice :-)
So - thank you both for taking the time out of creating analogue magic to talk with us. Let's start easy: what’s your background?
H: My name’s Hanna, I am from Vienna, Austria and I am 35 years old. I always had a love for analog photography and after a couple of years spent at the university studying for a career, which I decided I’d never want to pursue, I applied for photography school ten years ago where I met Michael.
M: My name is Michael, I am also from Vienna and I am 32 years old. After school I did my civilian service (instead of going to the military) abroad in an orphanage in Honduras for one year. Since I always wanted to work with photography I did a photography class there and when I came back I applied for the same photography school as Hanna did.
What inspired you to start revolog?
To be able to graduate from “Graphische”, which is the photography school we went to, we had to work on a diploma project. Michael had the idea to try to physically age films to create an expired look, but after some tryouts figured that creating special effects would be more interesting. Since I had a huge interest in analog photography and didn’t have a partner for a diploma project yet, we teamed up. Usually the students will work together with an external partner, to for example take pictures for a companies’ website or something of the like. We preferred working on our own, so the school said we would need to have a “commercial” side to the project for it to be a legitimate diploma project. Hence the company revolog was born. We founded it in June 2010 shortly before graduating from Graphische.
What has been the inspiration for revolog's branding and designs?
The goal was to create a simple branding, that wouldn’t be “over the top”, but easily recognizable as well. We went for a plain black and white logo, featuring the “sprockets” of a film. For each film we assigned a color, so people wouldn’t necessarily need to remember the name of the film, but could also go for the color. Creating the brand name was quite hard, we had lots of ideas (one worse than the other) and decided to make a poll and let the people we asked decide. Luckily they went for revolog, which we quite liked in the end. As for naming the films: for the first eight special effect films that we had, we also asked members of our facebook community (we already had almost 400 followers before we even had the company founded) for ideas. Nowadays we create the names together in long, exhausting brainstorming sessions. I could never work in the advertising industry, thinking about names makes me dizzy.
Have there been any particularly interesting/challenging episodes so far?
Mostly the past eight years have gone by smoothly and luckily we didn’t have any real struggles. The most challenging parts were finding out how and where to get film supplies in large quantities and creating new effects.
For me, the best part of having founded revolog is, that I get to meet so many likeminded people all around the world. We went to analog festivals in Berlin (AnalogueNow!) or Spain (Revela-T) and talking to other film photographers is so inspirational.
How did you both get into film photography?
H: I grew up in analog times, got my first analog compact camera for my 6th birthday and from then on loved to take pictures. My Dad gave me his Minolta XG-1 when I was a teenager and with that camera I took the pictures for my portfolio to apply at photography school.
M: I also got my first camera a Nikon (I don’t know which one exactly) from my Dad. We also build a Darkroom where I first came in touch with the analogue wonderland! [Ed: excellent reference. We can tell you guys are pros] My first prints where really bad but I liked working in the darkroom very much. In photography school we also had darkroom classes where we could experiment with analogue developing and enlarging.
What is your preferred non-revolog film to shoot with, and what's your favourite photo you've ever taken on it?
H: Phew, that is really a hard question. I would probably go with Rollei Orthocrome 25 film. I love the hard contrasts and the great dynamic range of this film. My favorite photo with this film is this accidental double exposure that I took with my Hasselblad 500C of my boyfriend, when we were in Texas (actually visiting friends that I got to know through revolog!)
M: I am currently working on a new project in black and white. So right now I am really into Ilford HP5 400Iso and pushing it +3f. It is incredible how good that works with that film.
I cannot really tell which my favorite photo is. I am really into that one shot I took when I was scouting locations for my project. It was taken with a Nikon F100 and Ilford Delta 3200Iso, I love the grain!
What - in your view - is the best thing about shooting with revolog?
H: I can’t get enough of the unexpected results when shooting with revolog film. I must have shot hundreds of rolls in the past years and I am still surprised when I get the developed negatives and start scanning. I have a hard time deciding on my favorite picture, there are so many.
I especially like the Tesla 1 shot of the couple who’s wedding pictures I took a couple of years ago. They were goofing around and she was “hitting” her husband with the bridal bouquet and that’s were the lightning bolt struck, too.
I also love this Lazer photo of my boyfriend being circled in by the blue line.
Last but not least, I took this photo in NY only to find out later, that the building in the picture is the famous one from ghostbusters, which had a lot of lightning effects going on in the film.
M: Like Hanna said I also love the unexpected results you get. I always shoot revolog when travelling because I love that, especially the colour effects, add some dreamy layer to your photos.
The photos I picked are from a trip to Kerala, India. We were hiking at the coastline and found an incredible beautiful hidden beach. On the way there we encountered a guy who was washing his clothes and also taking a shower in the middle of nowhere. It was quite a surreal place there and the Kolor film definitely supports this mood.
Let's talk cameras: what's your go-to?!
H: Also a hard question to answer, but I dearly love my Minolta X-300. After my beloved Minolta XG-1, which I got from my Dad, broke down, I wanted to get a replacement camera with which I could use my lenses. The used camera shop in my street had this one at offer and it’s my favorite travel companion since.
M: It is hard to say. It always depends on what kind of photos you want. For my project I use the Nikon F100 and also a Sinar F1. I really love working with that Sinar F1 now but it also drives me crazy because sometimes it’s just not doing what I want :-)
Overall the Nikon F100 is my favourite. It’s my first choice when it comes to travelling but also for other projects.
What do you hope to achieve with revolog?
World domination. Haha, just kidding. Personally I’d like to see the company grow big enough to not only pay Michael and my bills, but to have enough revenue to start bigger projects, like maybe trying to produce 120 film.
What would your advice be to anyone who's never shot analogue photography before?
H: If you’re new to photography at all, I’d say get an easy to use compact 35mm camera and shoot one roll of film. Any kind at all. You’ll be hooked by the beautiful look of the pictures you will take. And think about it, you will get a “full frame” camera for very little money! If you have some experience with photography, get yourself a nice SLR and shoot a roll of black and white film and develop the film and photographs yourself. There isn’t anything else as magical as suddenly seeing your own photographs magically appear on paper in the darkroom.
M: Like Hanna said I also think it is best to start with an easy to use camera to not get frustrated with a blank film. Analogue photography is kind of magical and sooner or later you will become addicted and try different cameras, films or developing techniques. The possibilities are endless.
And finally...if you could create any film in the world, what would you make?
H: To have a colour film with the same dynamic range as black and white film would be something amazing to have.
Also, I would love to create our films for 120 format, but unfortunately this is something that’s currently not possible. But who knows, we might be able to do that in the future when sales are right.
M: Maybe a cat-film, you just take your pictures and suddenly there appears a cat somewhere on the negative - would make every shot incredible hahaha!
Thank you once again for Hanna and Michael's time. If you are inspired to try their film - and help them on the way to world domination/120 film - then their full range is available to buy from Analogue Wonderland here.
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