Arts & Entertainment Feature Op-Ed Who RU

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by James Ochoa – Student Journalist/ Photos by Marko Bulahan

These days, most people tend to pull out their smartphones to take pictures and share life’s
moments, relying on built-in cameras that nearly rival the equipment used by professional
photographers. Those that might take their photography seriously might use said equipment,
pricey digital behemoths that go by the names of DSLR and mirrorless, while some enthusiasts
are just different.

One of those rebels deviating from the digital norm is Marko Bulahan, a 21 year old Rutgers
School of Nursing Student. He shoots on film—the stuff your parents used to use—and is keen
on expressing why it’s more beneficial than contemporary digital photography.

“Film any day,” said Marko, “One of the things I tell my friends and clients is that today we’re so
spoiled by digital photography. We can take a limitless amount of photos and it’s nice to save
them, but they make the photos less special. When you take film photos, every photo you take
means so much more because you can only have so many in every roll.”

Like most film converts, Marko had to adapt to the built-in limitations of film, which forced him to
take a different approach to photography, where the pursuit of the perfect photo has to be
redefined and reprioritized.

“I’ve always been keen on taking photos but I found it as a way to capture moments forever that
I thought to be beautiful,” he said. “Film photography specifically made it a challenge to
capture the photos without seeing a preview and be limited to a certain amount of photos. So
while it challenged me to take better photos, it also made me appreciate every little detail in life.”

These limitations do not stop Marko from capturing what he likes to capture, as he treats the
subjects in his viewfinder no different than on digital.

“I like to shoot subjects that usually have a lot of nice lighting and usually very high contrast with
the lights and shadows,” he said. “But it’s usually anything that’s aesthetically pleasing to
look at or is a special moment. Varying events that’ll only happen once like an event that’s
happening or how the sun sets that day. For example, I always say that God painted the sky for
that day specifically and will never look that way exactly ever again, so take a picture and keep
that memory and art forever.”

For Marko, film has become less of a hobby, and more of an obsession, exemplified by an ever-
expanding collection of cameras. “Currently I have 36 cameras,” said Marko. “Some are purely for collections sake, some are keepsakes like my first camera, and the majority have their own unique aspect that made me get them. In total, I’ve bought over 100 cameras.”

In part to keep his hobby afloat, Marko has sold cameras that he has sourced from local thrift
stores and vintage shops to his immediate friends and acquaintances who are interested in
picking up the hobby for themselves, as they see his dedication to the craft of film photography
as validation as a trusted seller.

“I resell purely for the culture of film photography,” says Marko, “If I’m the one selling it
personally, I can ensure the camera works, answer any questions they have, teach them myself
and even repair it if they break it. My goal is to bring as many people into film photography
because it truly is a beautiful experience that’ll teach people how to appreciate life just a bit

Although Marko would have a camera or two to sell at any given time, he is not shy to turn his
potential customers towards camera stores and eBay if they are looking for a good deal or a
specific camera that he doesn’t have, albeit with as much advice as possible.

“Many trusted sellers and camera stores will offer good deals and be very helpful,” he said.
“The problem is beginners don’t know what to look for and how to ever find it. It’s hard to start
off and if they were to get overwhelmed in the beginning it usually makes them stray away from
ever even starting to take photos.”

Film photography throughout the years has experienced a steady uptick in interest, as many
young people have gained an interest in the craft through outlets such as Instagram.

Throughout the time I have spent with Marko, I observed that he is seen by many of his peers
as the “go-to guy” for anything film related; asking for advice about film stock or working out
quirks with built-in light meters in their vintage cameras.

“For me I try my hardest to ensure that everyone is exposed to it and I answer any question
possible,” said Marko. “Some people definitely want to keep the aesthetic low-key so they can
have a unique instagram photo, but generally everyone is excited to show off what photos
they’ve captured.”

When asked about his dream camera, Marko had his eyes on cameras that are prohibitively
expensive, even for the most seasoned film enthusiasts.

“My dream camera is a Leica M6 for standard 35mm film and a Mamiya RB67 for 120mm
medium format photos,” said Marko. “Each one has the sharpest photos possible, an amazing
shooting experience, and sadly over a grand each.”

When asked if he had any advice for beginners, he had this to say: “Just get a camera and take photos. My personal saying is ‘everyone is a photographer as soon as they capture something they felt like capturing.’ The more photos you take, the better you get and you capture even more memories. Moments in life happen only once, and taking a photo will solidify it forever.”