Film Folk: Dino Kuznik

Location: Brooklyn, NY (Originally from Slovenia)
Genre: Contemporary, Landscape, Observational, Travel, Street Photography
Camera count: 5 that I use, but probably around 25 all in all (old cameras, my grandfather’s stuff etc.)
Film stock of choice: Kodak Portra 400

Tell us about your path to becoming a photographer.
My grandfather was quite influential for sparking the interest for photography in me. We would spend countless hours looking through all of his Nat Geos and all the books. He subscribed in the late 50s or early 60s, so he had a lot of issues. I still remember a couple of shelves in his room were bright yellow from all the magazines up there.

I didn’t really start photographing seriously until my student days. I got my first DSLR and soon after that started working as a journalistic photographer, studio assistant and retoucher. What drew me to film was actually trying my grandfathers old Praktica once. The process was so different as I didn’t see the photos immediately and I only had a limited amount of them to take. And the first trip to the processing studio felt like Christmas…I just really enjoyed it. After that I started shooting film and carrying a point and shoot everywhere I went. I still do to this day.

How would you describe your work?
I think my work is a projection of myself, or my state of mind. My process right now are solo road trips on the west, which make me really focused on the environment I am in, with no distractions. And I think you can feel that in my photographs. I really put a lot of emphasis on color, composition and sometime evoking a timeless feel or a feeling of a different era. 

What do you primarily shoot with and why is it your weapon of choice?
For my personal stuff my primary camera is a Pentax 67II. It is a heavy beast, but I love it. I really want to see exactly what I am shooting, that why I like that it’s an SLR. And because it is a medium format camera, my negatives are pretty big, which in return means I can print up to 60-70 inches.

What’s your go-to film stock?
My favorite film is Kodak Portra 400. I did try a bunch, but I mostly just use Portra now. I do switch it between 160 and 400 sometimes. 160 has an even smother grain I think, but 400 is still my favorite as it’s a bit more versatile and you can really push some amazing colors out of it if you know how to properly expose it.

Tell us about scanning your own work.
I have an Epson V850 but to be honest, it cannot compare to a drum scanner. Flat beds will be flatbeds. I do scan my negatives, but for the photographs, that I want to print big, I would get a really nice and large drum scan made. I will also be trying some new processes in the future, as I want to utilize a color darkroom and try to work with photo paper and an enlarger.   

It appears you’ve travelled a lot through the USA, where has been your favourite place to photograph thus far, and is there somewhere you’re itching to capture?
I have a great connection to California. It definitely is my favorite state, just because it has so much to offer and I actually lived there for almost three years. But to be honest, as I oversaturated myself with this American aesthetic, I am looking outwards for the future. I am planning some more projects on the west in 2019, but I really want to travel to South America and Asia. 

Tell us about your zine, Late Starting Dawn. 
Late Starting Dawn is a zine made in collaboration with Pomegranate Press. It is a collection of photographs from my time in America. I’ve sold out myself, but there are still a few copies available through Pomegranate. I am working on an actual book release for 2019 or, realistically, 2020.

If you don’t have a camera in your hand, what would we find you doing?
You would find me playing my guitar, looking through a photo book or reading one, watching a documentary or a heavy movie, hanging with friends, climbing, editing my photos or biking across Brooklyn.

If you could pick one person that inspires you, photographer or otherwise, who would it be?
I really like a bunch of photographers, and they inspire me with the work they did or are still doing. From Stephen Shore, Gregory Crewdson, Vivian Sassen, Alex Webb, Joel Meyerowitz…a bunch of Magnum photographers. But if I had to choose one who I was inspired by recently, I guess it would have to be Todd Hido.

Share with us your favourite piece of your own work.
I don’t have a favorite photo. I am really self critical, so that kind of question is really hard for me to answer. I feel the most interesting photograph I have captured was in 2018 – the Palm Spring driveway with two European cars (I call it Another Era). It’s interesting to me that it looks really American, but it does feature two European cars. This contradiction is interesting and weird at the same time when you think about it. It can act as quite an interesting metaphor. But let’s leave the visual analysis to the viewer!

You can only shoot with one camera, one lens and one film stock for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?
Mamiya 7 with the 80mm lens and Kodak Portra. It’s medium format, light and has amazing glass. If I needed to use only one camera for the rest of my life, that would probably be it. No offence to my Pentax 67, it’s just too heavy.

Lasting thoughts
Thank you for the opportunity and for these lovely questions! 

Mac or PC? Mac
Kodak or Fuji? Kodak for film (Fuji for digital or instant film)
Colour or B/W? Color
Frontier or Noritsu? Noritsu for the colors
Self-Develop or Lab? Lab
Portrait or Landscape? Portrait
Lightroom or Darkroom? Lightroom (for now)
35mm or Medium Format? Always medium format
External or In-Built Light Meter? Built in – most of the time

Check out more of Dino’s work on his website and follow him on Instagram.

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