Nacht by George Buchholz


First off, tell us a bit about yourself and your photography.

Hello, I’m George Buchholz. I’m 21 years old and am from San Francisco. I moved here 2 years ago with my fiance. San Francisco has been a big part of evolving my style, since before moving here I lived an hour south and would take the train to San Francisco any chance I could get just to be exposed to such an inspiring city.

Photography started to become a passion of mine after I took a film photography class in highschool. I actually didn’t even really like the class, and almost got discouraged when the professor for some reason did not like my work. In hindsight, he kind of reminds me of a father who was disappointed that he himself never became an athlete, so he pushed his kids to become sports stars. Even so, that class introduced me to photography as an art form, and neither my love for it nor my camera has left my side ever since.

Any particular reason why you shoot film? Favorite stocks or cameras?

People always try to romanticize film, as if it’s vastly superior to digital. For me, I just really enjoy using film. The look of different types of films, the extreme disappointment when all you have is daytime film but it’s midnight, and even the extremely tedious process of scanning film–I love it all. I worked with digital for a short time, but the ability to see my photos right away seemed to limit my creativity. Now, I really love waiting a while to see my images. It makes me feel like I actually crafted an image in the moment, rather than obsessing over it while staring at an LED screen. I don’t plan on stopping using film until I’m either dead, it’s discontinued or I can’t afford it. Even then I would do some dirty things to get a hold of film.

As far as different gear goes, I have a few favorite cameras. My Contax T2 is my overall favorite camera. I take it everywhere, I drop it, it slams into things and it keeps working. The lens is amazing, it has a distinct contrast to it that I haven’t seen any other camera, film or digital, do better. The Nikon FM2 is my SLR of choice, it’s also extremely fun to use and is built like a tank, and fully mechanical. For medium format, I love my Fuji GW690II. The lens adds a glow to the images, and the 6×9 format makes beastly negatives. I prefer medium format for night images because it has so much latitude.

For nighttime color film I prefer Cinestill 800T for its insane colors and distinctly cinematic look. It’s expensive, but I think it’s extremely worth it. For daytime I just love the standard Portra 400. And when I’m in a black and white mood, I use Ilford HP5+. I haven’t been using much black and white lately, but my next film order is going to be all black and white. I’ve been shooting so much color recently that I think it’s time for a change.

What is the inspiration behind the Nacht series?

A few different things inspired me to work on Nacht. I think the movie Blade Runner actually played a big part. After watching it, I went to Chinatown the next night just to capture the darkness with the contrast of bright neon signs, lit up stores and mysterious alleyways just like I had seen in the film. I love taking photos at night because everything is completely different, and in Nacht I show parts of the city at night which are worlds apart from their daytime selves.

I’m actually working on another series of night photos, in which I’ll capture the more quiet, lonely aspect of night time in the city, rather than the vibrant, neon mood which I focused on in Nacht.

Since Snapshot Galleria is based in LA and you’re based in San Francisco, can you tell us a bit about what the film photography scene is like up there?

I think we have a great community up here, and we are definitely not short on film photographers. There is a community of film photographers here called Findrangers (@findrangers). That group was my first introduction into the local film community, when I was accepted into one of their series. It’s actually worldwide but based in San Francisco, and so the gallery showings of the series are packed with other film photographers, many of whom I’ve gotten to know.

We have a few excellent professional labs here, a great 1 hour lab (Photo Plus), as well as Glass Key Photo, a store dedicated only to film photography. We also have a place called Rayko, where you can use their darkroom and get classes on developing. It’s actually amazing how many film dedicated places there are in such a small city.

What is your favorite thing about photographing your city?

I think the microclimates. I live in the Tenderloin, which is pretty damn bright and hot all the time (okay, at least for me. I find 65 degrees fahrenheit hot. I can’t even imagine the weather in LA, sorry) but if you take a short bus ride to the Outer Richmond it’s completely foggy, which gives you a totally different aesthetic to work with. I also love how many different cultures there are here, and different neighborhoods with completely different styles. I could never get bored of photographing this city.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for interviewing me, it’s an honor to be on here! Never stop shooting film.

I’m going to do some shameless self promotion now, so be sure to check out my Instagram, @georgebuchholz and my website where I’ll soon be selling my zine, Nacht.