Finding her previous visit to Bantayan Island in the Philippines a memorable experience, Shanghai-based Camille Robiou du Pont went back with her boyfriend to celebrate her birthday in July last year. Travelers also tend to feel a certain connection with some of the places they visit; for Camille, the Philippines made her feel at home, so it may not come as a surprise that she wanted to celebrate such a special occasion in one of the country’s most scenic destinations.
Like many people who find themselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life, the French graphic designer also saw the trip as a chance to take a break and recharge. “My life in Shanghai doesn’t allow me too have a lot of nature around me so I try as much as possible to travel during my personal time,” she shared with us.
Accompanied by her long-time analog companion, a Canon A1, Camille relished in the opportunity to take in as much of Bantayan’s natural beauty, and immerse herself in the daily life of the island’s residents. If you’re curious about the story behind the lovely travel photos that she shared with us, we invite you to read through our brief chat below!
Can you tell us something about yourself and what you do? What keeps you busy aside from film photography?
I studied graphic design in France for 3 years and moved to Shanghai in 2012 in order to finish my masters degree. During my training, I had the feeling that I had to explore both graphic design and photography if I wanted to express my ideas.
Today, I’m still in Shanghai and I am working for an advertising agency in the video/photography team. I try to develop personal projects using film cameras because for me, in terms of visual emotions, film photography is much stronger than digital and that’s why I keep using this medium. It’s a boundless playground and a poetic way to share your daily life.
Please tell us about your trip to Bantayan Island in the Philippines. When was your visit and what made you decide to go there? What were you looking forward to while planning for this trip?
I have already been in the Philippines a few years ago and this time was special because it was for my birthday last July. My boyfriend and I chose to go back there because this is maybe one of the most beautiful place I have ever seen and we wanted to see it together. My life in Shanghai doesn’t allow me too have a lot of nature around me so I try as much as possible to travel during my personal time. The Philippines make me feel like home, and the people there are very welcoming. We were looking to have a real break from Shanghai’s city and we found it there.
Describe the first scene (or scenery) that welcomed you upon arriving at Bantayan Island. What was/were your first impression/s about the place?
We arrived at Bantayan Island in the middle of the night so we were not able to see the landscape very well, but as soon as we were on the island, we had this very nice feeling of calm and quietude (no cars, no shops).
Our room was facing the sea and when we woke up in the morning we were immersed by the landscape. We left a busy and noisy place for a little piece of heaven.
Tell us about the analogue weapons of choice you used for this trip. Do you feel that the camera + film combo you used managed to capture the look and feel of Bantayan Island just as you wanted to remember it? Or would you rather have chosen a different camera and/or film instead?
During this trip, I used a Canon A1, my first personal camera. It was the first time I used it and I bought the first films I found (Fujicolor Superia 200). I had clearly no idea of the result! I feel that my casualness helps me a lot for my creativity. I also use only one lens (50mm f1.4).
The funny story is that I forgot to develop one film and when I came back in Shanghai, I did a series of double exposure pictures, mixing Philippines and Shanghai shots. I was really surprised and happy when I discovered the results! This is exactly what I love with the film camera process: you are always surprised.
Today, I have already tried other films but I think the Fujicolor Superia 200 was good for this travel. The color and the grain represents well my feelings and what I saw during this travel.
You have captured a lot of scenes involving the locals of Bantayan Island. How would you describe the interaction you had while taking their photos? Did you have any interesting encounter or experience with them during your trip?
Since I have arrived in China, I developed a personal and strong interest on the people who live around me. Shooting them makes me observe and understand their way of life. So, when we arrived on Bantayan Island, it was natural to go out and meet the locals. People are very curious when you shoot them, and they sometimes want to see the picture you just shoot. They didn’t really understand why they couldn’t see mine, because they are more used to digital cameras.
What do you consider to be the highlight of this trip?
The highlight of this trip was the nature. I was fascinated by the sky and the sea, the eternal movement of the wave reflecting the clouds.
Can you give an important piece of travel advice for film photographers like yourself?
Don’t be afraid to test different techniques because this is what will open your creative views, and don’t care too much about the equipment. From my point of view, it’s not necessary to bring a big bag everywhere with a lot of accessories (many different lens, films etc.). It’s not so convenient and removes all the natural aspect of a shoot. When you have your “basic” material, you can shoot with a free mind and be spontaneous.
Lastly, if you could take just one camera and one roll of film to a dream destination, where would it be, which camera and film would you bring, and what will you make sure to take photos of?
I hope one day I will go to Alaska to face a forest covered in snow or a white ocean. For sure, I would bring the same camera, my Canon A-1 with color films, and try to do a series based on the color of the sky and the landscape.
Interview by Joy Celine Asto / Photography by Camille Robiou du Pont
To see the rest of Camille’s photos from the trip, please head to her website: