“The day you get your film back is [like] Christmas day,” computer science senior Paul Studer said.
That feeling — waiting months to get a developed film roll back, capturing 36 favorite moments from a road trip along the coast — was the catalyst for PΛCIFIC, a film photography-inspired brand created by a group of students who travel up and down the Pacific coast shooting on their 35 mm film cameras.
PΛCIFIC is not a clothing brand. It’s a creative content platform — a website for photography, video and music discovery, and it’s all inspired by film and road trips.
How it began
Studer met software engineering senior Costin Pirvu in the residence hall their freshman year and they quickly bonded over their love of photography. They would spend breaks with their friends who shared this interest, driving hours in a Ford Flex, camping and snapping photos along the way.
“We were always taking pictures, and we wanted to do something with the pictures that we had,” Studer said.
From there, the idea of a brand followed naturally according to Pirvu. The two spent classes doodling, and one day, their logo was inadvertently born.
“It started kind of like an inside joke — that those scribbles meant something more to us,” Pirvu said. “The logo started representing something to us, and we knew we could do something with it.”
They started uploading their photos to Instagram with their logo in the corner. From their Instagram posts came collaboration. Soon, their friends joined in on the idea to create a team of artists.
“Each member of the team had a very unique quality to them, whether it was photography, cinematography, drawing or graphics,” Pirvu said. “So, once we had this team that we loved, we knew a brand was the next step to express who we were and show our work somehow.”
The PΛCIFIC team prides itself on the candid nature of the photos.
“A majority of our photos are not staged. Everything we do is captured in the moment of what we’re doing and who we’re with,” Studer said. “I think that’s what makes our photos special. They’re not staged — they’re who we are.”
This is an important part of their brand — they want their creative content platform to inspire those who work with them.
“I think creative content is what we are trying to drive our attention at. We want to collaborate with artists and photographers and people who are unique and interesting and create content with them,” marketing senior and PΛCIFIC team member Peter Hou said.
The team also wanted to create tangible items that represented their brand. For their first line during Fall 2017, they created t-shirts, frames, stickers and posters.
“Not only are we all into photography and cinematography, but we all love fashion and the latest styles,” Pirvu said. “With all our creative content, we want the people following us to be able to buy something at the end of the day to be a part of it in some way. That’s how clothing comes into play.”
The beauty of film
This all stems from a love for film. PΛCIFIC’s seasonal lines feature a limited number of items only available for a limited time after their launch. After the season, the items from that line are no longer available for purchase. The goal in this was to replicate the fleeting, momentary, one-of-a-kind quality of film photos.
“Something special about film is that you only have 36 shots. You can’t just rattle out a thousand shots like on a digital camera. It makes you really think about every shot you’re taking. Each shot holds value,” Studer said. “When I’m in this beautiful place surrounded by all my friends, I can take the picture on my film camera and still be in the moment. I’m not being distracted.”
The team members hope to keep film alive, even in an age where high-quality photos are available in our back pockets.
“Nowadays, a lot of photographers and filmmakers are trying to replicate film by adding light leaks, but you can tell it’s very digital,” Hou said. “Keeping it original to 35 mm makes it authentic.”
The team said nothing can replicate the feeling of receiving a film roll after it is developed. They do not have access to a darkroom to develop their own photos, so it is often months after taking photos that they get their work back from a film developing lab.
“It gives you a mini slideshow of memories. Some magic comes when you develop it, like you get a random light leak somewhere or there’s a certain grain on it that just can’t be done on a digital camera,” Pirvu said.
The future of PΛCIFIC
PΛCIFIC aims to expand both its inventory and creative content while holding true to the original vision. Hou said as PΛCIFIC’s following grows, the team feels it’s important to not compromise their vision to appease customers.
“Don’t compromise your stuff based on what you think other people would like,” Hou said. “If you like it, then other people that assimilate with your brand will like it too.”
More road trips along the Pacific coast will inspire their work. They hope to include jackets in future collections, and they plan on creating a curated radio show for their website.
“We want people to go our website and [for it to] inspire them to try something new, to go out on a limb and be more creative,” Studer said.