A Photographic Love Affair Between Siberia&Portugal

Film Swap Across 7,000km

3 min read by Justino Lourenço.
Published on .
Photography is a process of experimentation. When the light burns through the virgin film’s chemicals, we hope to bring some glow into the darkness; and at the end of the tunnel, at least to be a print that may collect dust in the drawer for years to come.

This short essay is a showcase of an unexpected virtual rendezvous between two amateur photographers living 7,000 kilometres apart.

Film swap between @jmrlourenco and @yulia_paix .

Two perfect strangers, we connected over Instagram and went ahead with the project after a brief DM exchange. No rules, no planning, no physical interaction.

Film swapping is an old practice; like pen-pals, we exchange pre-exposed film instead of words and letters. I shot the first roll around my town, V. N. Gaia, Porto (Portugal) and sent it to Siberia so that Yulia Perminova (@yulia_paix) would take her pictures right on top of what was already there. Meanwhile, she did the same at home, mailing me her pre-exposed roll to layer my photography across.

We worked blindly. The rolls we received from each other had no clues or information as to what was on them. Could this create a disaster or a random experiment? Only one way to find out — to try, experiment, develop, and see what ended up on the emulsion.

The aesthetics came out strange and unexpected. Two distinct scenes appeared to be competing for the brightest spot on our emulsions. A panoply of colours, forms, and objects merged in each frame; each representing the perspective of a photographer venturing into the unknown, completely unaware of what the combined light will end up scribing over the void of a blank film.

Thank you to the co-author of all the photos that you see here, who’ve embraced this idea from the start: @yulia_paix.

Our analogue “blind date” was “written” on Kodak Colorplus 200 and Fuji Eterna 500T.