Ryan Neilan talks about the freeing experience of film


Deep blacks, blown highlights, contrast heavy. Heavily influenced by the Are-Bure-Boke style from Japan, Ryan Neilan’s images are often out of focus, blurry and feature lots of heavy grain. Having shot his first roll of film back in 1999, Neilan would take pictures of his friends’ band playing in a local community center. And as he would describe it, the process of knowing how to obtain a good image got him hooked and he has been doing photography ever since. He shares his experience of changing 100% back from digital to analog and how Leica has played a key role in this unraveling process.

What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?

I’ve always enjoyed art and music, but I have never been able to draw, to really learn an instrument well. It just didn’t click with me. But when I look at a picture, a good photograph, there’s just a feeling you get. It just clicks. I’m sure it’s the same for guitarists and painters, they just have a connection with that art form. For me it just happens to be photography.

My approach is perhaps a little different to most. I shoot film and shoot a lot of film. I shot forty rolls in five days in Tokyo. When I go out to shoot I walk quickly. I like to move quickly through the streets and people. I stop for a split second to press the shutter, barely breaking stride before moving on. I rarely talk to the people I photograph, usually I’m long gone before they have a chance to react. I can easily shoot three to five rolls in an hour and thanks to the 35mm I’m trying to get closer as I shoot.

I have stopped going out to randomly shoot as I used to and am now really focusing on projects. After the Tokyo project, my next project is based in Ho Chi Minh City. The images you see of the city are usually the over done, overly pretty tourist shots. I don’t think anyone has ever really shot this city in this darker black and white style before. I have another project in the works on the growing hardcore punk music scene that is growing here in Saigon.


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Seeing as a potential Film Workshop is on the cards ...something to wet your appetite ...

These simple step by step instructions will teach you all you need to know to start processing your own black & white films at home.

  • Part 1: What you will need 00:09
  • Part 2: Preparing the chemicals 01:06
  • Part 3: Loading your film 02:06
  • Part 4: Processing your film 04:02
  • Part 5: Hanging and Drying your film


Source (V Youtube)

INTERVIEW // A conversation with Ryan Muirhead

I stumbled onto this great interview over at ....ENJOY


I think I knew really shortly after I look my first picture, to be kind of cliché. It was such an out of the blue experience; I had never done anything artistic before. I was going through a really hard time and a friend asked me to take a photo for them and I just did it, and a whole bunch of emotional content I hadn’t seen coming out worked its way into the picture.

I think my friend recognized it before I did because she had it printed out and started showing it to people and saying ‘Ryan made this.’ I was on the set of a movie, and the director of photography saw it said that it felt like something. As though I was communicating something. I can honestly say that that wasn’t even my intention. Just from that kind of feedback it hit me really fast like ‘You do have something to get out that you haven’t had the means to get out before’ and I think it just snowballed.

I shot something later that day and the next day. I ordered a DSLR a few days after that and honestly it hasn’t been more than a couple of days that I have gone without shooting since that happened about 8 years ago.


Home for me is Portland, Oregon. I moved there from Utah about two years ago. And work is a really funny definition. Work would be where I shoot from. I don’t really take any shoots for money. All my money is from teaching and print sales. So where I work is my everyday life wherever I end up, either teaching or traveling, so work is kind of everywhere. There is no start and no stop to it I guess.


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Contax G2 & Hillvale Sunny 16 -VS- Olympus Mju ii & Kodak Gold

Here is a quick CRAZY comparison, Jeremy was out shooting and ripped of these two shots from 2 different camera & film set ups.

  • Olympus Mju ii & Kodak Gold (35mm)
  • Contax G2 & Hillvale Sunny 16  (28mm lens)

Olympus Mju ii & Kodak Gold

So the Olumpus Mju ii is one HOT camera. It really is worth every cent. You could pick one up for about $60-$80 about a year ago, now expect to pay $150- $250. Still a hell of a lot cheaper than a Contax T2 or Nikon 28/35 Ti and with a razor sharp 35 f/2.8 lens in a weather sealed plastic clam-shell body, whats not to love (other than you need to switch the flash off every time you go to take a I love the Nion 28Ti). There is a lot to like about this camera. The image above proves it is a sharp little fella built to please.

Contax G2 & Hillvale Sunny 16

Contax G2 & Hillvale Sunny 16

Now the Contax G2 is like a DEMEGOD as far as I am concerned, lightning fast auto-focus razor sharp lenses which rival any of my Leica glass and one of the sexiest looking cameras evvvvver. I still have nightmares about "why did I sell my 4 lens kit and flash" chills seriously. Jeremy has provided a great example of the 28mm f/2.8's lens deadly sin 'direct sunlight' ..... ooouch.  Jeremy scanned these using our newly acquired Fugi Frontier SP3000 scanner we could not be happier. We are feeling like 'BIG men on Campus' at the moment and are happy to add it to the clubs arsenal obviously.  We love this scanner so expect to get more mindless and not so mindless random posts on scanning stuff over the next few months. 

I realize this was a crazy comparison as one has a 35mm, the other a 28 buuuuut look at the capabilities of that little Olympus & Hillvale's Sunny 16... sweeeetttttttt.

Point and Shoot cameras all the way