James Alexander - How I Found Photography in America

I’m from the North East of England, a place called Sunderland. There’s a saying here ‘It’s Grim Up North’ and that is for the most part true. It’s usually wet and grey. The further North you go the more rain you get too. I always describe Sunderland as the Detroit of England. Maybe that’s a little dramatic as the crime is no way on the level of Detroit but it sure has gone through a real rough time and continues to do so. In the 70’s it lost its industry which was ship building, that was a major blow for the region and its never really recovered.

My mother, bless her, decided to get me and my brother out of Sunderland as soon as she could, settling on a place called Durham which is a small Historic City. The main reason for moving was the schooling. 

My parents had separated so we would only spend weekends and odd days at my father’s house. My earliest memory of staying there was of my dad putting up an American flag he had just brought back from Los Angeles, in my room, this was probably the first time I had dreamt about one day going to that far away distant place called America. 

My dad had worked out in Los Angeles for over a year and would always tell me stories about his time over there. He would play American bands like The Eagles, Jackson Brown and Bob Dylan, these became the soundtrack of my life and I would listen to every lyric dreaming about the day I would eventually get to experience America.

It would be another 10 years or so before that trip would happen. Back in 2007 I made my first trip to America. I was 21 at the time and it changed my life. 

I came back to England and finished university where I studied film. I never stopped thinking about America and how one day I would like to go back. I planned a trip to land in Los Angeles and drive to New York. Crazy, right? This was a trip I would make with my cousin. We spent three months weaving in and out different states - I’m proud to say we hit 18 states in total. During this trip is where I found my love for photography. 

I’d always dreamt about doing a road trip over America. The ever-changing landscapes were breathtaking, we didn’t have much of a plan and decided to be open to anything that came our way. We spent Thanksgiving in Idaho just because we met a country singer on a random night in LA and he invited us to spend it with his family. The trip quite literally changed my life and made me realize America is the place I want to be full time. 

I shoot with a Nikon 35mm and Pentax 645 Medium format Camera. 

The main inspiration for my work is the film ‘Paris,Texas’. Seeing America through foreign eyes, like Wim Wenders did, is something I hope to capture within my own work. 

I’m currently in development of a feature film entitled ‘Two Sisters’ which is a road movie set in the Californian desert.

James Alexander

IG@jamesalexander1

website: www.jamesalexanderfilms.com


Richard Bram - AllFormat takeover (2)

(cont’d from part 1)


#SquareFormat 2. 

The thing I like to do the most with the square, though, is #portraiture. There is something very settled and lovely shooting this way, and it gives even an informal picture like my old friend John in the loft reading a newspaper a certain seriousness that appeals to me. 


John, #Louisville 1991

Tom & Billy at Home, #Panicale 2002

Charles, #London 2003

Yvonne at the Pond, Panicale 2008

Silvia, #Montacuto 2000

Silvia in the Studio, #Mainz 2000



In 1997 I married and moved to London. As I began to get used to my new home and new life, I was walking all over town. I’d only been here two months when Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash by her drunken driver. I was quite amazed at the national outpouring of grief that accompanied her sad early death. At Kensington Palace was a mountain of flowers and remembrance. Still having the urge to cover big public events, I went to see what I could get at the funeral procession, 6 September, 1997. Not having any press credentials, I just played the part, kept out of the way of the police, was ordered off the route once early in the day, didn’t leave but photographed the spectators lining the route. Thus I was lucky enough to be in the right place when the cortège came down Whitehall followed by the Princes Philip, William, Harry, Charles, and Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother. This photograph has never before been shown. A year later the news cycle had moved on, but her image was still being used to move magazines and newspapers.


#Diana #PrincessofWales #Princewilliam #PrinceHarry #PrinceCharles #PrincePhilip #Funeralprocession #Whitehall

#NikonF5 #LeicaM6



To come to grips with my new London home, I walked all day with my camera and took pictures of everything that interested me, no matter what it was. I also spent a lot of time on the Underground getting from one place to another. There the advertising constantly juxtaposed itself with people waiting to get on their way, as was I. Occasionally something magic would appear for an instant. If you always have a camera, you just might get it. Today, we tend to think of these as clichés, but 20 years ago, ‘Street Photography’ by that name was not a near-universal thing and this was rare. Now I think of these as ‘warm-up exercises’ for truly interesting photographs. 


Soho Square, 1997 – spotted on my way to an internet café. Remember those?

Angel, 1998 – my first photograph that became well-known.

Gunslinger, 2000

Comfortable Changing, 1998

Countdown, 2003

#London #LondonUnderground #advertising #visualjokes #blackandwhitefilm#LeicaM3 #LeicaM6 #leica_fotografie_international #in_public_collective



London is where I truly came into my own as a street photographer. I’d been making images here for a little over three years when David Gibson saw my work at a gallery and invited me to join the nascent iN-PUBLiC.com @in_public_collective [@un_public]. It was the very first – and still going strong - street photography collective. At the time, I hadn’t thought of these as ‘street photography’ as such – just photographs. In 2001, there wasn’t any contemporary street photography on the still relatively new Internet. Creating iN-PUBLiC changed that. In those early days we were simply like-minded friends who went shooting together then got together at a pub to talk about photographs, life, the Universe and everything.


One afternoon David Gibson was over looking through some of my contact sheets. I remember him saying something like “It’s amazing: Most of your contact sheets are just crap, then BANG – An incredible shot! – followed by more crap.” “That’s my method,” I replied. It continues to be my way no matter where I am in the world. 


Second Story Man, #Clerkenwell 2004. 

Selfridge’s, #London 2003. 

Oxford Street, London 2005

Fight, #CanaryWharf, London 2004

Taxi, #RegentStreet 2007

Goggles, #OxfordStreet 2007

#blackandwhitefilm#LeicaM6 #leica_fotografie_international #in_public_collective



In the summer of 2008, my wife’s job moved us to #NewYorkCity. I’d been going there regularly for many years though had only briefly lived there in 1979-80. I was still mostly using black-and-white film as we settled in. One good thing about having a camera is it gives you something to do while you’re, say, taking shelter waiting for a summer storm to pass. I was doing just that on my way home from the #WallStreet Post Office. The camera was pre-set, focused, and ready as people scuttled by in the rain. Again, chance favored the prepared mind. A similar situation happened 10 years before in #London when waiting out a shower, I got this on Oxford Street. It was featured in the #MuseumOfLondon’s “150 Years of London Street Photography” exhibition.




New York 2. 

The #FinancialCrisis of 2008-2009 hit just as we arrived. Living near #WallStreet you could feel the tension in the air. Heads were beginning to roll.


Red Cube, Broadway, New York 2008

Nassau Street, New York 2009

Doll’s head, Scooter, New York 2009



New York 3. 

The photographs I made In New York were my last regular use of film, both monochrome or color. Most of these were made with the M3 or M6. 

In 2010 after decades of black-and-white I was feeling stale and needed a challenge. I consciously decided to switch to digital color and have only rarely looked back. Color is harder to do WELL and has re-invigorated my work, leading to the publication of my book “Richard Bram: NEW YORK” in 2016. But as I said, I had spent a lot of time in #NewYork before this and taken a few good photos over the years. Here are a few more.


#ReindeerSuit 1989

#Sisyphus 1988

#HoustonStreet 2009

#Tourists 2009

#YankeesParade 2009



I’ve been fortunate to travel to a lot of different places. There is nothing like walking the streets of a new city where you can’t even read a street sign. My approach is always the same: Have a camera, keep mind and eyes open, have a ready smile and a humble manner. It gets you through a lot. (Sometimes someone might say “Don’t take my picture.” OK. Don’t take their picture! They have the right to say no. There are always more pictures and subjects somewhere else. This applies at home, too.) But anyway, here are a few favorites. 

I first found my voice as a street photographer (though I still wouldn’t have used that term) in October 1992 when I went alone to Moscow and St. Petersburg. It was a seminal moment: For the first time since I’d become a photographer 8 years before, I had no agenda, no shot list, intense curiosity, a lot of film, and complete freedom. It had just become an early winter as I walked all day, every day until it got dark. 


Wedding Party, Red Square, Moscow

Shawl Vendor, Arbat, Moscow

Crow, Belorusskaya Station, Moscow

Footprints, Moscow

Anastasia Practicing, St. Petersburg

Great Dane, St. Petersburg

Smokers, St. Petersburg

First Snow, Sergeyev Posad

Fortress Monastery of Sergeyev Posad on the 600th Anniversary of its founding.

A 40-year-old photographer in GUM, Moscow, with his trusty 1955 M3.

#Russia #Moscow #StPetersburg #LeicaM3 #winter #GUM #crows #blackandwhitefilm #analogphotography @leica_fotografie_international #in_public_collective



The world is vast and I’ve seen only a few little bits of it. I’ve been to a very few places in #Asia and a brief time in each, but managed to bring a few decent photos back. Here’s a little sampler from #Bangkok 2000, #Shanghai 2004, and #India 2005. Spending a short time in a place that is so different from one’s own home is difficult. At least for me, it takes time to get past being overwhelmed by it and get past the obvious. But again, if you let your curiosity take over, you might. (When I said I was going to India, my dear friend Matt Stuart @mattu1 said to me “…colour, Bram. India is colour.”)


Ferry, Bangkok, 2000

Portrait, Bangkok, 2000

Card Game, Shanghai 2004

Nanjing Lu Boys, Shanghai, 2004

Nanjing Lu Girls, Shanghai 2004

Motorcycle, New Delhi, India 2005

#Cows#Holi#Udaipur, India 2005

#Blackandwhitefilm #colorfilm #LeicaM6 #streetphotography @leica_fotografie_international @in_public_collective #travelphotography



Living in London is wonderful for another reason: you can easily travel all over Europe from here (perhaps not after the hideous debacle of Brexit; we shall see). Here are a few favorites from here and there. A little story about the first photo: In 1998 we were crossing the ancient bridge of #Albi in #France when my wife said “Look! Fast!” I instinctively raised the camera to my eye and clicked as a young couple zoomed by on a bicycle. As they rode away the charming girl shouted back to me “You have a photograph of a young French girl…” 


Albi, France, 1998

#Lucca#Italy 2000

#Pienza, Italy 2003

#Mainz, Germany 1996

Mainz, Germany 2003

#Panicale, Italy 2004

#Rome, Italy 2006



#Oaxaca, in the south of México, is a very special place for us. On my first trip there in 1996 I asked the woman who is now my wife to marry me. We’ve been going back regularly ever since. I’ve made a lot of photographs, had exhibitions, and have friends there now after such a long time. You’ve seen a couple here this week; here’s a further sampler. I can be a bit of a romantic. This is a Good Thing.


Lilies, 1998

Streetscape 1998

Palm Leaves 1999

Preparations, #Teotitlán del Valle 1998

Couple, #MonteAlban 2002

#travelphotography #LeicaM3 #blackandwhitefilm #analogphotography @leica_fotografie_international @in_public_collective [@un_public]



On line, on television, we are bombarded with negative messages frantically demanding our attention and our eyeballs. Tearing yourself away from that can be difficult. It’s hard to remember that the world is mostly still a wonderful place to be, filled with beauty, joy, and laughter. Don’t forget to just enjoy yourself: Stop and appreciate it. In your pursuit of ‘authenticity,’ don’t only see how aggressive you can be with your camera, how bright your flash in a stranger’s face can be, how much angst and grit you can show. Allow yourself to be kind, honest, and fair to your subjects and to yourself. Your heart rate will go down, you’ll be calmer within yourself, and you’ll get better photographs. Give in to the sublime.


Thank you for looking and reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the week. A BIG thank you to Ioana Marinca @transilvirish for asking me, and to the members of @allformatcollective for allowing me the privilege of sharing all of this with you. Love and courage, Richard.


Still Life with Fruit, Montacuto, Italy 2000

Perugia, Italy, 2008



Richard Bram - AllFormat takeover (1)

We invited Richard Bram of UnPublic to do an IG takeover in February and it was so brilliant, we had to keep it as a more permanent record. You may want to grab a coffee - there are two parts.

Note: because of a rebranding that took place shortly after the takeover, Richard’s references to inPublic mean UnPublic. 


Good day, everyone. This is Richard Bram @photobram52. I’m honoured that Ioana @transilvirish asked me to do an Instagram takeover for the @allformatcollective this week. As this is a group dedicated to film, I’ll be showing just that: photographs made with different cameras, formats, and a variety of subjects, not just the street photography I’m generally known for. I’ll show you a photograph, sometimes the contact sheet from the roll, and if possible the camera with which I made the picture. Many will be from my early years as a photographer, before I moved to London, New York, then back to London. Some of these have rarely or never been seen outside of my files. As it goes on, there will be more photographs. There will be stories. 


#Zocaló incident, #Oaxaca, #México 2001



Serendipity led me to photography: I studied political science and art history at university and international business in grad school. Like most of us, I took 35mm snapshots growing up. I’d been told that slides were the best way to record colour, so most was on transparency. I never thought about becoming a working photographer. I liked taking pictures and felt I had an eye for it. Then in 1984, when I was 32 years old, my business career ended in Louisville, Kentucky. A personal crisis became a major turning point in my life. With the encouragement of friends, I decided to become a professional photographer! I didn’t know what this really meant, only that I truly wanted this to work, more than anything in my life to that point. This first photograph was typical of my ‘pre-professional’ photographs, one of the earliest that I think of today as successful, a derelict storefront in Philadelphia made in 1979. I was struck by the streaked dust on the window and the wonderful old, stained, and worn mannequins having a conversation within.



In 1980 I was briefly living in New York City, in training for my last ‘regular’ job as a sales rep in the clothing business. I walked from my temporary quarters to the office and back. By this point, I was almost always carrying a camera, a Pentax Spotmatic - long gone. One rainy night I was heading home and this giant roller skate was out in the rain. As I clicked the shutter a man came by huddled under his umbrella. I didn’t know it, but it may have been my first ‘street photograph.’



722 West Main Street, Louisville, Kentucky 1985

35 years ago this week I became a photographer. I had a lot to learn to bridge the gap between a talented amateur and actually earning a living as a working photographer. I went to the public library and educated myself, made a lot of mistakes but worked hard, and had some lucky breaks. Within about three years I had a regular clientele as a commercial public relations and event photographer. The next two or three years were very thin, as was I during my “10,000 hours” learning period. I traded the Pentax for a used Nikon F2, bought lenses as I could, and walked all over town observing people with my camera. Here, I’d just left my friends’ loft and looked back up to see them talking in the window and made this with a 200mm. A few years later this would be my home and studio for four years. (young working guy with NikonF2, motor, & 200mm lens; 1985 photo by Nick Mills.)

#mainstreet #louisville #kentucky #35mm #blackandwhitefilm #smokers #candid



I became a photographer having never processed a roll of b&w film nor made a print in a darkroom and knew I had to learn FAST. A course at the local rental darkroom and taught me the basics. Shortly after, a distant relative died and I inherited a carload of photographica: a full darkroom kit - a big 1950s Omega B6 enlarger (35mm up to 6x9), trays, tanks, reels, &c., and a mid-50s #CrownGraphic #4x5 with a 135mm lens. I took it as a sign that I was at last on the right path. I took another course at a local college in using a #large-format camera as well as extending my hands-on b&w technique. The teacher was Andy Anderson, a sharp, experienced, hard-bitten old commercial photographer. He could see a flaw in a print from the corner of his eye and would bluntly tell you so. You get the most from the toughest teachers and I learned a lot. A bit later I was out on the street playing with motion and long exposures and made this photo. When a person is walking, one foot is absolutely still on the ground while the rest of the body is moving. Sure, this had been done before, but I hadn’t done it yet. 

It’s been a while since I’ve used the 4x5, mostly for portraiture, but I’ve gotten it back out again and there will be more.

#SeelbachHotel, #Louisville, #Kentucky 1987

#blackandwhitefilm #oldschool #analogphotography



The 4x5 was a very practical tool for a lot of things. One of my first clients was the local art museum, where I recorded paintings on large format for the Registrar’s office. This was straight-forward paying journeyman work but not interesting as photographs. In the contact sheet you’ll see a collection of things: a modern ceramic sculpture, a commercial still-life for an anti-alcoholism campaign (pro-bono work for a social service agency), and amusingly, a photo for my insurance company – all my 35mm #Nikon gear about 1990. Pre-digital meant carrying a lot more stuff around on your shoulders. Aching back, neck, and shoulders, and arthritis are hazards of the profession.



As I said, in February 1984 I had a lot to learn and had no other source of income. As my wife often says, “Chance favours the prepared mind.” While taking that first darkroom course, an acquaintance was leaving a public relations gig with the Louisville Library system and recommended me. I interviewed with them and got hired to make PR pictures for the Library newsletter and any other photo needs. I was in the Library all the time – where the knowledge is. I worked through all of the 779 (Photographs) and 771 (Techniques & Materials) sections. I read some, skimmed others and soaked up photographers’ monographs like a sponge. As I got to the end of the monograph stacks, I first came across Garry Winogrand. “Public Relations” hit me between the eyes. I was shocked: tilted perspective, no formal grace or composition, backlit, hard light; what was this stuff? Social event photos were harsh, critical, often lit by “melt-the-eyeballs” flash. Struggling to learn my craft, make everything look as good as possible, and eke out a living, another question came to me: Who would have paid for these pictures that made so many of their subjects look terrible? I put the book back in the stacks and moved on. 

The contact sheet here gives a good idea of an average working roll: a portrait of a librarian, a reception for the Japanese Consulate donating books, a ribbon-cutting. This is straight-forward and a lot of it is pretty routine, frankly. But it’s work and it pays the bills which is a Good Thing. But soon I began to notice things: the uncomfortable moment at an event, something out of place, unscripted, that the organizers might not want to see. I began to understand what #Winogrand was getting at. Here’s a Congressman speaking with the Japanese Consul who is a bit surprised at what he is saying – it’s awkward and uncomfortable. His body language and expression tell the story.


Congressman and Consul, Louisville Free Public Library #lfpl #Louisville #Kentucky 1989

#LeicaM3 #blackandwhitefilm #publicrelations #analogphotography



The biggest break I got in the early years was being asked by John Nation, a prominent #Louisville photographer and fine friend to this day, to join him when he was asked to be the official photographer for the Kentucky Derby Festival. From that day forward, my career took off. There were nearly 100 events NOT including the horse races all over town, each of which had corporate sponsors. Before long, every company in town knew who I was and that I was working down front at their events. I never had to show a portfolio again. Of course, there are always things that a client’s not interested in seeing, and after a few years I began specifically looking for these and taking these uncomfortable moments with the M3 tucked into my bag. 


Kentucky Derby Hats, 1989

Celebrity Luncheon, 1991

Clown, 1991 

Winn-Dixie, 1991

President and Princesses, 1993

@kyderbyfestival #blackandwhitefilm #publicrelations #analogphotography #LeicaM3 #LeicaM6



On the sweeter side, working for the Kentucky Derby Festival meant having a press pass and the ability to spend time on the backside of Churchill Downs. It was a beautiful time of day to be there, before dawn as the track came to life and the horses were fed and exercised. One morning in golden light I managed to get a horse in full gallop with all four feet off the ground. 


Red Rider, Churchill Downs, 1986

Stable Hand, Churchill Downs, 1986

#Fujichrome #Provia100 #colorfilm #transparency #NikonF2 #churchilldowns #kyderbyfestival #fromthearchives



#Contactsheets are important in many different ways. For example, I’d seen the work of the photographic pioneer Eadweard #Muybridge in the library including his famous early studies of running horses. (The original sequence reproduced here was made in 1878 to settle a bet between by railroad magnate Leland Stanford.) I was often at the track well before dawn, using the motor drive on the camera trying to duplicate his famous sequences. However, it was DARK that early and required longer exposures, like 1/8th or ¼ sec. I didn’t get what I’d hoped for. But when looking at the contact sheet, I realized that there was something more interesting, at least to me. This turned into a series over the next few years called “After Muybridge”. (Always credit your sources.) 

#blackandwhitefilm #Horses #churchilldowns #Sequentialphotography #NikonF2 #equinemotionstudies



Though I don’t play an instrument, I’ve always loved #classicalmusic - as well as the many other types of music that I’ve burnt my ears with. In early 1986 I met Lawrence Leighton Smith, conductor of the #LouisvilleOrchestra, and was asked to photograph a rehearsal or two for the season’s opening concert. I was overjoyed: Smith was going over the #Beethoven ‘Emperor’ piano concerto with his teacher Rudolf Serkin, one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century. I was free to walk around and make whatever photos I wished as long as I kept out of the way. The stage lights reflected up from the pages into their faces as he and Smith compared notes on the score. I noticed little bandages on the ends of Serkin’s fingertips – he was 83 at the time. They played the entire piece together on two pianos. Standing at the end of Serkin’s piano, I made a few photos, but was so overwhelmed I just put all the gear down, closed my eyes, and felt it wash over me. 

Because I deeply loved the music, Larry and I formed a professional friendship. I became the in-house photographer for the Orchestra for 12 years and got to meet, photograph, and hear an incredible amount of fabulous music from the world’s greatest performers.



When you’re working with an orchestra, you need to be quiet. Early on I was using the F2 which has a shutter clack that you can hear across the street. A friend told me I needed to get a Leica. I knew it was a famous camera and all, but didn’t see the reason. “Because it’s almost silent” she replied. A couple of months later, a beat-up Leica M3 with a 35mm lens showed up in a local shop and I bought it. It has the quietest focal-plane shutter of any camera I’ve ever handled, including later Leica Ms. Soon I could walk around in the sections during rehearsals and no one minded. They knew I would not get in the way nor startle them with a loud camera in their ears. (The father of modern photojournalism, Alfred Eisenstaedt, was the first to do this with the Berlin Philharmonic in the early 1930s.) Here is the great violinist Isaac Stern in a difficult rehearsal, the player’s-eye view of Pinchas Zuckerman, as well as a delightful children’s concert, all from the early 90s. 


#LeicaM3 #blackandwhitefilm #LouisvilleOrchestra #PinchasZuckerman #IsaacStern #ClassicalMusic #Leica_Fotografie_International #fromthearchives



I still work with orchestral musicians here in London; Besides street work, it’s my other great photographic passion. The best part is being close enough to hear the wood. Here Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Aaron Shorr are rehearsing a Beethoven sonata. I had a Nikon F5 with me this time, but ½ way through the roll the shutter jammed! Luckily, I had a spare camera in the bag – a 1979 pocket-sized Olympus XA, a full-frame rangefinder, almost like a baby Leica. It did the job.

A year later I was at the Tate St. Ives with my musician friends. The cellist Neil Heyde and I walked into a room with sculptures by David Nash, gigantic roughly geometrical shapes of charred black wood. They were very powerful and seemed to suck the light out of the room. Neil wanted to see what effect they might have on sound so he sat down with his cello and played at one of them for a while – it absorbed sound as well. I photographed him with a 6x9 1936 Zeiss Super Ikonta. (Aside: You’ll see on the contact that landscape’s generally not been my thing…) 

#takeover #blackandwhitefilm #contactsheets #tatestives #ClassicalMusic #OlympusXA #Zeiss #SuperIkonta #mediumformat #fromthearchives



Working for the Library at fundraising events meant mingling with Louisville’s movers and shakers, many of whom were on several cultural and charitable boards. As I made photos of the local worthies at Library events, I began to be asked if I’d do jobs for other cultural organizations like Kentucky Opera and the Louisville Orchestra. In 1986 this led me to what I think of as my first ‘Winograd moment.’ Kentucky Opera hired me to cover a fundraising concert featuring the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti. I followed him around as people surrounded him for autographs, gave him gifts, &c. &c. (On the contact sheet, a lot of photos are circled to be printed for the patrons.) Later in the evening he attended a fundraising dinner and ‘society’ people were all around fawning as he signed photos. I was a bit turned off by the whole spectacle and switched to a hard flash in the dark room. Later I felt the same slightly jaded feeling while photographing a birthday party for a local fashion figure. (Technical note: Bouncing the flash on the ceiling with a white card/plastic bit or whatever is always more flattering and helps avoid the dreaded red-eye. In the days before digital this was VERY important.) 


Luciano Pavarotti Dinner, Louisville, KY 1986

Birthday Party 1987

#lfpl #publicrelations #blackandwhitefilm #NikonF2 #flashphotography



The Pavarotti photo brings up the subject of flash. Even now, I rarely use it unless it’s dark and I have to, preferring the light that I see as I’m looking at the subject. Sometimes you have to because it’s dark, or intentionally trying to make someone look bad. That’s what direct flash does. When you suddenly set off a flash in someone’s face, especially at night, you have slapped them in the eyeballs; it’s an inherently aggressive, hostile act. It’s your choice to do so, but you need to realize that and be prepared for a reaction that may not be good. Also, you only get one chance – once it goes off, that’s it and you’ve got to move. 

Other than public relations work, I’ve only shot two large bodies of work with a flash. Both times I was angry within myself for different reasons. The first and best known is ‘Big Hair & True Love,” shot over several years at summer events in Kentucky. (The picture titles come mostly from slogans on signs or t-shirts in the photos.) I mostly used the little XA and flash because it’s small and doesn’t look like a ‘professional camera.’ This particular contact sheet was from a surprisingly good hot August night in 1993. There are six shots that made the final cut for the series on one roll, including two successive frames that were a perfect pairing. Far more often there were three rolls with nothing at all.


The Great American Hog 1993

Keyhole Tops 1993

Iron Maiden 1993

Kamikaze 1993

#flashphotography #blackandwhitefilm #kentuckystatefair #bighair #fashion #candidphotography



Flash 2

In the fall of 2011 we were living a block away from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan when the Occupy Wall Street encampment started. I began to walk through every day just observing rather than participating. At first, I was sympathetic to some of the many causes being espoused but as time went on the day-to-day reality became more chaotic and for too many seemed to become a party with street cred and after a couple of weeks a tourist attraction. Lots of celebrities parachuted in to ‘show solidarity’ then left fast, as did Jesse Jackson one evening, playing to the crowd but not really looking comfortable. I shot it with an M6 and an on-camera 283 flash. The legacy of Occupy Wall Street is mixed, but in the long run it changed the political discourse in American politics to this day.


#OccupyWallStreet #blackandwhitefilm #analogphotography #LeicaM6 #Leica_fotografie_international #NewYork #ZuccottiPark



The Lost World of Polaroid 1. 

Shifting from the serious to the silly and occasionally sublime and, this being Instagram, there HAS to be a cat picture.


Experimenting is a Good Thing. It keeps your mind open and helps everything you do even if it may not work. I had a lot of fun with Polaroid films. Sadly, what I’m going to show can’t be done today as the films are gone. SX-70 film was fun – You could draw on it if you worked quickly while it was developing. It was also fun to go all David Hockney and collage, like this view of the studio of my Louisville loft c.1993. Original SX70 had a special color palette that could be quite delicate and beautiful.


#Polaroid #SX70 #collage #Hockney #analogphotography #lostworld #loft #Louisville #MainStreet



The Lost World of Polaroid 2

A lovely thing that one could do was make Polaroid emulsion transfers. Using large format peel-apart color film, you made an exposure, waited about 10 seconds, peeled the print of, threw it aside and took the still-developing chemical negative, roll it carefully onto wet watercolor paper, wait one minute and then v-e-r-y gently peel the negative off to give you a transformed image. This first one was made with a Polaroid back on the 4x5 as the cover for an article on the two little girls who were dancing Clara in the Louisville Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” 


#Polaroidtransfer #CrownGraphic #largeformat #analogphotography #louisvilleballet #fromthearchives



The Lost World of Polaroid 3

Vivitar made a gadget called the Instant Slide Printer. It used Polaroid 669 peel-apart film to make small snap-shot-sized prints from your slides. It was perfect for making emulsion transfers. I made a series of these from photographs of Oaxaca for Galeria La Mano Magica who carry my work. There is a special beauty to these that I love. There were also lots of failures and occasionally happy accidents with transfers, like when the emulsion peeled back off the paper as it did on a photograph of two windows. Other times there would be ripples or stains that worked. These make up for all the ones that don’t work and end up in the bin. Sadly, these films are is gone and there will be no more. 

The first image is the original transparency made in the 16th-c. church of Tlacolula, Oaxaca, México, and then its transformation via the Slide Printer into a transfer. (Aside: In every naturalistic sculpture, the figure is looking at a particular point is space. If you find that point, the sculpture will be looking directly at you which can often be a bit unsettling. Try it.) 


#Tlacolula #Oaxaca #México #MonteAlban #ZapotecCulture #PolaroidTransfer #VivitarsSlidePrinter #GaleriaLaManoMagica



Panoramic 1. (All formats, right?)

In 1991 I read an article about re-using the ‘disposable’ plastic cameras that Kodak and Fuji were pushing. For fun, I picked up a #Kodak#Stretch35” loaded with 200 color film. I used up the roll, but rather than take it to the lab where they break open the camera and throw it away, I carefully took the film out in my darkroom. I re-loaded it with #Ilford #XP-2 because of that film’s wide exposure latitude and went out to play. The camera had a 25mm plastic lens, masking off the top and bottom of a full 35mm frame to hide the fuzziest parts of the image. It says on the box “Use out doors in bright light. OK. I was boating on the Ohio River with friends and but didn’t want to risk a ‘real’ camera falling in the water so took this one along. The point of focus of the cheap plastic lens tended to shift closer at the edges, so by chance this self-portrait utilized this otherwise bad quality well. I’ve made a lovely 11” x 14” print from it that’s surprisingly sharp.

Self-Portrait, Ohio River, Summer 1991

#plasticcamera #KrappyKamera #Panoramic #blackandwhitefilm #toycamera



Panoramic 2. 

I soon found an ‘#AnscoPixPanorama ’ for about $10 in the drug store. This was essentially the same all-plastic camera as the Stretch 35 but designed to be reloaded. I still have and use this one now and then. It’s fun, like all ‘#crappycameras.’ You can’t take yourself too seriously. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make serious photos with them, though. I’ve taken it with me to many places and gotten a lot of fun photos and beautiful ones too. 


Snowy day, #SpeedArtMuseum , #Louisville 1991

#Swans , #Prague, 1996

#Sundsvall , #Sweden , 10:30 p.m., July 1997



Panoramic 3. 

I love the panoramic format, but it’s tricky to use. As my friend Gus Powell said to me “…cool, but it’s a lot of film real estate to fill.” For serious image quality you need a proper panoramic camera. There are several variations available: Flat-field like the XPan or Fuji 617, or the rotating-lens 120º cameras, like the Widelux, Noblex, or my personal favourite, the Russian #Horizont. These last cover a huge field and have an intriguing distortion created by the moving lens. (I had an XPan briefly but never really got on with it - we went out a few times, had some laughs, but never had a relationship.) For me, there is something wonderful about the wacky curvature that I love. It can also be used vertically with care to create photos that have the air of an Oriental scroll painting. 


Paddock, #KentuckyDerby 1998. This is what I mean by filling a frame.

Water Street, #NewYorkCity 2004. The cover of my first book.

Bamboo, #AngkorWat , #Cambodia 2000.

#Holi , #Udaipur , #India 2005. (Before I went, Matt Stuart @mattu1 said to me “Colour, Bram. India is colour.” He was right.) #MonteAlban , #Oaxaca , #México 2001

#Prague , 2005. Sometimes the subject fits the format.



#SquareFormat 1. Working within a square is different. It’s inherently more centered and formal, part of fundamental classical geometry. Consciously or not, if you’re paying attention, you’re handling it differently to a rectangle. The twin-lens reflex, whether #Rolleiflex, #Yashicamat, or even a plastic toy like the #Diana or its successor the #Holga, was the camera of choice for many photographers, from the famous like Helmut Newton or Diane Arbus to the unknown (until recently) like Vivian Maier. It also allows one to crop the image easily to fit photo paper with no real loss of image quality, but that’s different from considering the whole frame. I’ve used it a lot for portraiture (more later), but also like the challenge of making it work in the quotidian world. Again, filling the frame is what it’s about, even if it may be considered negative space. (While I haven’t used it much, there’s no way you can take yourself too seriously when using an all-plastic Diana covered in black tape against light leaks and knowing that the front of the lens could suddenly fall off for no apparent reason.) 


#HorseGuards, #London, 2002

Via Gramsci, #Panicale , #Umbria , #Italy 2002

#PlaçaCatalunya , #Barcelona 2002

Market Street, #Louisville, 1994


(cont’d in part 2)


Trey @ TourDogs

AllFormat’s Ioana was curious about Trey Derbes’ TourDogs work, so she decided to ask him some questions. 


IM: Your social media followers (and ours, over at Allformat) will know you as a prolific zine maker. When did you start? And more importantly why?

TD: Thank you so much for that title! I started early in 2018 making zines featuring my personal photos because I wanted to do something else with my photos. Sharing them on social media didn’t seem fulfilling and is counter to how I enjoy looking at photos (which is through photobooks, prints and zines). At first, I followed the style of Cometbus zines - which were mainly short stories about living in punk houses and touring - and printed small A5 zines. I published my own photos like this, but I’ve always felt insecure about my personal photos. There are so many good photographers in the community and I felt better about publishing and promoting other photographers. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past year. I think photos are meant to be looked at in print form to truly enjoy them. So much is missed when scrolling through photos on a phone screen.   


IM: At first you were making and giving zines away for free. That must’ve set you back a few $ but you must have gotten something out of it - what was that?

TD: I still giveaway zines for free every month. It does cost me money, but I feel that there is more value in giving zines away for free. Maybe I could make some money by selling them, but giving them away would get them into the hands of many people. That felt way more valuable and fulfilling than making a few bucks here and there.  After I did my first few zine giveaways I noticed that people from all around the world were getting my zines (which I could never have imagined happening).  My next thought was there are so many excellent photographers that could also benefit from this. So I started reaching out to photographers I had met through workshops or online photo communities to see if they would be interested in working with me.   What I get out of it is the joy of doing something that I am passionate about and seeing the excitement of the photographers when they see that their zines are all gone in about 3-5 minutes. I started the zine subscriptions mainly as a way to help me continue doing the free zine giveaways at less of a loss. I don’t mind the loss though. I will always give away zines for free.


IM: What’s your typical process, how do you find photographers to publish? 

TD: I love to publish photographers that I think are good and also photographers that don’t get much attention in the community. There are people that participate regularly in the giveaways and we communicate a lot. There is the collective (Diffuse Collective) that I am lucky to be a part of.  I’ve made zines for them. James Moreton @go_jmo and I did a Charlie Kirk @twocutedogs workshop together and started up an online friendship through that.  His photos are amazing so of course I asked him.  Everyone in All Format Collective is so talented so I reached out to you guys individually. I don’t really have a set process. It’s sort of like deciding to take a photo. Sometimes there’s a feeling that something will be cool so you go for it. I have been receiving some submissions lately, but I don’t like the idea of people submitting photos for the zine. It feels sort of dirty to me. I would rather naturally develop a relationship with them and it’s like I’m doing a zine for my friend. I think everyone has the talent to take great photos.  Sometimes it’s the presentation and not the photo. So I’ll look through an instagram feed and if the photos feel like they would be cool as a zine I get stoked and ask if they would be interested.


IM: You seem to travel a lot, is that for work or pictures (or both?)

TD: I love to immerse myself in other cultures and traveling gives me that opportunity. Taking photos is how I document my personal excitement while traveling. Though, by the time I’ve shared the photos the novelty of the excitement has worn off and I’m mainly trying to express an emotional state that may not be happiness or excitement. I used to only travel for work or music (which is also work in a way), but I’m starting to travel more just for the sake of traveling and getting away from my day job. Traveling with bands always provides very interesting experiences because we’re typically trying to save as much money as possible which involves sleeping on a lot of random floors, eating whatever food is provided to you for free, and also playing in some very interesting venues.   


IM: Who or what inspires your own work? 

TD: There have been so many photographers that have inspired me in the past. Currently, my biggest inspiration is Daido Moriyama.  His photos have always left me puzzled, because my first impression is I truly enjoy them but the reason is not so easy to determine. I’ve studied countless books and zines of his to try to figure out why his work is so mesmerizing. I came to a conclusion of why it is so good, but I won’t bore you with the details. Everyone finds their own reasons to enjoy something and my reasoning may not resonate with others. On top of his amazing photos, he has such a huge library of books and zines. You could spend a lifetime going through all of his work. He has always felt like a D.I.Y. punk photographer to me. I can’t imagine me ever growing out of enjoying his photos. In the past I was heavily influenced by Jason Eskanazi, Boogie, Josef Koudelka, etc. Another big influencer for me is Mario Testino. His photos have such a wild energy to them and they are truly unique. The first time I came across one of his books I could not believe my eyes. His work is so daring and fun. You can’t help but get goosebumps of excitement when looking through any of his personal work. 


IM: From what I’ve seen, music is a huge part of your life. Did music inspire your photographs or did photography come first? 

TD: The music came first for sure. I’ve been playing in bands for about 25 years. I started taking photos about 12 years into playing music. I always brought a camera and tried to make cool tour photos. Sort of a tour diary. But I could never really execute that well. There was a really long time of some really terrible photos but all the bandmates enjoyed them so it wasn’t a total loss. Once I started getting into the street photography community I started trying to adapt the principles to my tour photography. Still, not very good photos. But to answer your question, the music inspired the photography. 


IM: Let’s say you could ask any photographer in the world to do a zine with you. Dead or alive. Who would you ask?

TD: I’m extremely happy and lucky for the people that have worked with me up until now. That said, if I had the chance to do a zine with Daido Moriyama that would be an amazing experience. Even though I know I would be too anxious to ask him all of the questions I would love to ask. I’m sure I would get over the anxiety and ask all of the questions I could think about. He probably wouldn’t want to do a zine with me after that!

IM: Thank you very much for your time! 


You can see Trey’s work on his IG @tourdogs and website www.tourdogs.com.


Mistakes are Magic

By Jacqueline Badeaux.


I mostly don’t like to reveal myself or anything about my “technique”, but I’d like to share some of my ideas. I hope this might encourage other people to make art with a piece of film, to not be intimidated by the medium, get to the fun part and experiment. I think people can push photography into new realms. Destroying film is a fun part of the experimental film world, and is one of the many reasons I can’t give up celluloid. 


I took this photograph with a Lomo LCA just before a storm. After I developed the roll at home, I put some of the negatives in the dirt for a week in my backyard. Normally we try to avoid scratching the surface of film, but I think that the textures add another layer to the photograph, and it tells another story. 



The second photograph is taken with a Holga Pinhole Camera. I developed at home, (haphazardly) and the bubble forms in the foreground are the result. To me, this negative is very special because it feels like another world, and maybe turns a portrait into dreamscape. 


The third was also taken with a Holga Pinhole Camera. I took a loooong exposure thru the window of a moving car. I always wondered what that would look like, and it turned out the horizon and and the clouds show just a little bit. 


Follow Jacqueline on Instagram for more other worldly, dream-like photographs…


Kit Young Interview

Kit Young did an interview with Melvin Mapa:

While I began taking photographs several years ago, I only started taking the medium of photography seriously when I discovered the hands-on nature of black-and-white film and what are now referred to as ‘traditional’ printing methods. For me, nothing else will do. Film photography allows me to consider my work over time as part of a creative process. I thoroughly enjoy printing my own negatives. Every moment spent in the darkroom gives me a chance to reflect on what I have done and learn from my mistakes. I’m not one for planning individual photographs or indeed photography projects. Instead, I take photographs on the spur of the moment. The four sides of the negative are my point of reference – they enable the viewer to see what I have seen.

Find it here.



Kit Young Print Sale!

Kit has been super busy in his darkroom recently and has many prints available for purchase.

Contact Kit directly via his website or through Instagram in order to purchase.


Kit Young’s Printing and Finishing Process

Kit shares some of his printing and finishing process - and some handy tools…

“Contact sheets. I’d be lost without them! I like to take my time to look at them, often in the morning with a coffee. I use a red watercolour pencil to mark potential keepers with a line. I then decide whether or not to print the potential keepers in the darkroom, once I feel I’ve hit my stride in terms of striking the right tonal balances and so on. If I end up printing a potential keeper, the line turns into a cross: X marks the spot!”

“So, once the FB prints have been made I tend to let them air dry for a couple of days. I’m not one for rushing this part because this ‘slow’ process does give me time to look at the print over several hours as it dries and reflect on what I’ve made…”

“As some of you might already be aware: I really enjoy spotting my prints. I like to put myself at a table near a window and put on some vinyl. Spotting can be quite a time-consuming process but it’s something I find very rewarding.”


Kit’s essential darkroom items:

​”This is the neg carrier from my Focomat V35 enlarger. While I do also print on a Focomat 1C enlarger now again again, the V35 always seems to lure me back…”

​”I used to use these exact same ​tongs on a weekly basis, almost religiously, when a dear friend in Paris passed on his knowledge of printing to me. I’ll not use any other. When I use these, a part of me is still in Paris, printing in my friend’s darkroom.”

“It’s probably not the prettiest or fanciest loupe you’ve ever seen but I really love it because it was one which was given to me by my father. He used to use it while he was teaching darkroom photography at college and I think it was given to him by a Nikon Sales Rep. who used to call by every once in a while with lots of treats…”

​”Because the print isn’t finished until it’s been spotted… And all my unfinished prints get torn into a thousand pieces and thrown in the bin.”​

“Hand-made by me! Can you tell? These, and my hands, are the only two tools I’ll use for dodging a print. The one on the left is made out of a small paper-clip and the one on the right is made out of a large paper-clip… Ingenious or what?”

www.kityoung.co.uk




Baldessari and the Zoo

Some years ago I made a family trip to beautiful Copenhagen. We decided to visit the highly rated Copenhagen Zoo. I knew our 3 year old daughter would love it and so would I.

However, photographically, I knew exactly what would happen. I would either line up with other tourists to get that pointlessly faux National Geographic cover shot of a depressed mammal. Or more probably my cynical and self-critical mind would kill even the slightest motivation to pull out my camera. So I tried to come up with a point of departure.

In 1967 John Baldessari exhibited a series of works under the title Wrong. The series included an intentionally bad portrait with the label “Wrong” beneath it. It was shot too far, exposed and composed badly with a background pilar growing out comically out of the subject’s head.

Resonating with Baldessari, I devised a plan for the day at the Zoo. I would make a series of bad zoo photographs. I would frame carelessly, fail in timing, compose badly and most importantly fail to present animals in any meaningful or aesthetic way. I would become the antithesis of that heroic wildlife photographer risking his life for a masterful cover shot. I would make it my mission to fail catastrophically at every single wildlife shot — in a zoo.

Several weeks later while editing the contact sheets I made an unexpected observation. My little experiment at the zoo had introduced a curious level of meaning and interpretation to my photographs. And an aesthetic that looked less of a failure than I had intended.

The animals in my photos appear completely ignorant of the photographers gaze — as if to totally and explicitly refuse their role as unwilling exhibits in fake environments. Refusing to even pretend. Like accidentally walking into an occupied dressing room they want us to feel ashamed for our gaze. Ashamed for expecting to animals to put on a show, to pose for us and our cameras. Ashamed for feeling disappointed of that tiger resting lifelessly in the shade.

The zoo had changed completely. By completely ignoring the expected subject of my photographs I had stumbled into a more meaningful subject matter altogether.

For recent work, follow me on Instagram.


Traveling Out West – The Guide To A Successful Road Trip

Now there are many ways you can have a successful road trip. An example could be going on a 150 mile drive to a national park and camping out or it could be be going on a 4700 mile voyage and viewing a ton of beautiful scenery that your eyes have yet to see. Whatever it may be there are a few things that I personally would recommend you take in mind.

This past summer I went from my hometown of Manitowoc, WI with two friends and traveled out west to Seattle and a few other cities along the way. Never really traveling before I was excited to be able to take the leap and see what amazing sights and adventures I was in store for. I got what I absolutely needed for my trip and stuffed it in a single backpack and went along. That being my two film cameras along with a Rolleicord from Raph the creator of allFT, 3 handfuls of black and white film and a couple rolls of color, a small amount of clothes and an open mind with no expectations.

Tip #1: No Expectations

I cannot stress enough that this is one of the most important tips I can give. Imagining what the trip could be like will only disappoint you if you have too high of an expectation. There were countless times on my trip where things didn’t go as planned so just go with the flow and be in the present.

Our first stop was Minneapolis, MN and it was a beautiful city to see. Going to Chicago, IL a couple months prior to this trip I thought MPLS was a lot more pleasant and cleaner with what seemed to be an amazing art and music scene

We cooked some food and had a bonfire and talked about the days ahead and what we were excited about. Which brings me to my next tip.

Tip #2: Camp To Save Money

One of the big things when going on a road trip is to be as cost effective as possible. In total I spent $270 dollars on gas and other necessities. This will allow you to spend more on what you want to and other activities in the places you plan to go and if you’re up for camping its a great way to connect with the people around you. If you’re lucky you wont have any cell phone reception and wont be frozen to a screen!

After spending the night in probably the most beautiful part of North Dakota we packed up and jumped in the car and started to head towards one of our stops in Montana. Makoshika State Park is a really cool park that has a mostly rock landscape and it reminded me of the grand canyon. Obviously not in side or beauty but it was a great stop and great for some photo ops.

We spent about an hour there and it was such a calm and peaceful reminder that there is so much to see and being able to view this for such a small amount of money made me want to spend all of my savings on traveling.. which I will most likely do from now on.

Tip #3: Bring A Camera!

A camera! Not your iPhone. A legitimate camera. Preferably film since this is a film collective after all and well its the best way to capture your experience. And it looks like nothing else! This is another tip I cannot stress enough. Although its an extra thing you have to bring and a little less convenient than a phone the photos you take on this trip you’re going to have for ever ( If you use a real camera and get them printed ) and want to make huge prints! Its also a great conversation piece.

Back to the story! After Makoshika the rest of the day was dedicated to getting as far west as possible and quick stop at this “Ghost Town” outside of Missoula, MT. Turned out to truly be a ghost town because we couldn’t find it and we were deep in the Montana mountains surrounded by windy dirt roads, trump signs and road signs filled with bullet holes. After that we drove to the nearest hotel in Missoula because it was storming and we wanted to get a fresh start the next morning.

Tip #4: Explore Every Stop

Traveling through the pan handle of Idaho we stopped in the little mountain town of Wallace. This place took me back to the 60’s with its old style cafes and classic cars. On a side note they should make all cars like they did back then. It seemed to be untouched. We walked around the whole town and went window shopping and got some coffee and food at the local coffee shop. Stop everywhere you can and look around. You will find things you wouldn’t have seen if you didn’t!

Tip #5: Have Fun

Having fun is the final and most important tip that I can give you. Enjoy everything. Look around you’re seeing amazing and gorgeous places. I can’t tell you how much of a life changing experience this was for me and it would not have been close to what I experienced if I didn’t have fun.

The next 4 days were spent in Seattle, WA and it has made me want to move out there. Which I hope to do in the near future. The rest of the blog will be just photos so please enjoy and leave a comment if you liked the read!



Photographing in Winter

Now if you live in a place where during the winter months you get snow you can already relate. One of my biggest struggles is being able to go out and photograph during this time. Although its beautiful outside after a fresh snow fall the conditions aren’t the best. Its usually super cold, windy and very wet and easy to get your gear a little messed up if not cared for properly. I absolutely hate that its fully dark at 4:15 p.m. and like me most of the people Im around hate it too. Which leads to no motivation for anyone.

There are a couple of benefits to this time of year though. You have to get creative. Not all your subjects are going to want to freeze their ass off standing outside while you try to focus and get your settings right. So here is a little advice on how to work with your surroundings while photographing in winter.

Normally Ill start off around the house. See what might be an interesting scene. Maybe turn off a couple lights and make the scene a little moody.

The sun is very low during winter so almost anytime during the day you can get some great light coming into the house. This shot below was shot at 11 in the morning.

Depending on if I feel like freezing I will go out after a fresh snow and see what I can find and last winter was my most successful for some good photos.

Even though I hate winter so much It almost always helps me grow as a photographer to think a little outside of the box and work around my surroundings. So when you are stuck inside get a friend and look around for the light and an interesting scene and shoot!


Interview with Jason Lee

Back in late 2016 (Allft Issue 1), James Moreton caught up with the large-format Polaroid master, Professional Skateboarder and Stillwater lead guitarist - Jason Lee

JM: Why do you shoot film? 

JL: Because I’m a photographer, and, to me, to be a photographer means to shoot film. I’ve never owned a digital imaging device and never will. To me, photography and digital image making are two completely different things. It’s a heated debate, I know, and I never want to be disrespectful or too indulgent in said debate, but those are my feelings about it.

JM: Do you have a favourite camera and film stock? 

JL: I love my old large format cameras that I’ve had for years. my leica m6, too, and even point-and-shoot cameras, like the olympus xa or the nikon 28ti; anything that uses film, really. Favorite film is probably Polaroid 804 (8x10); it’s just perfect to me; smooth and charcoal-like. Most of my conventional B&W film photos are reverse-processed (slides) by dr5. I have been using that process for 10 years now because I like that what you do in-camera as the final result. And being that I shoot mainly for publication, versus darkroom printing, the dr5 photos are great for scanning. In this process, I love rollei retro 80s, rollei IR400, hp5 at EI 3200, and delta 100 at 50; depends on what I’m in the mood for I guess. I also really love agfa scala, which Dave at dr5 can process. I don’t shoot much color but I do love shooting expired color neg films and pulling them, like portra 800.

JM: There seems to be a lot of synergies between the skateboarding world and the world of photography. Some of my favourite photographers were skateboarders and good photography seems to be a big part of skating - would you agree and how much of an impact has skating had on your photography? 

JL: Artistic inclination is very common among skaters I think because skateboarding is itself a very creative world, from design to filmmaking, and the way one skates; it’s all creative. Music and imagery and filmmaking are all used alongside skateboarding, it’s amazing to see how different people express themselves. Because of skateboarding, its culture and the various personalities and influences that I’ve been exposed to, especially people like Mark Gonzales and Chris Pastras, I’ve been turned on to things that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have. Skateboarding and art go hand in hand.

JM: If you could only rescue one photobook from a house fire, which one would you rescue? 

 JL: ‘On Reading’ by Kertesz.

JM: With Fuji discontinuing film nearly every month but with the likes of new cameras from the Impossible project and film from Japan Camera Hunter - what are your thoughts on the current state of the film industry? 

JL: It’s a bummer to see films being discontinued, but it’s alive enough to stay hopeful and productive. All of my large format polaroid films are now of course expired, but most of it is still useable and I plan on getting through it all for more publications over the next few years. The discontinuation of 3000b is a bummer but there’s still plenty of it out there and it’ll last quite a while. It’s very cool to see people and groups making new films or bringing back dead ones.

JM: How important is social media to the film photography community? 

JL: I was a longtime Instagram holdout because I just thought the whole thing was silly and a lot of it still very much is, but seeing how strong the film community is on IG, I find it inspiring enough to keep at it. It’s been fun having the @filmphotographic page too, which I started a little over a year ago I think. It’s encouraging to see how many film consumers there are out there.

JM: Can you speak a bit about how you went about selecting and editing together images for you upcoming book? 

JL: There’s a flow to it - day to night, night back to day, outskirts to within a city and then back out to the outskirts. A run of B&W and then some color and then back to some B&W. Grouping people together here and there. Themes within a theme I guess. But the whole thing tells (or should tell) a kind of story, without hitting anyone over the head with it. I’ve never felt that photography should be explained. There’s a flow to it and it’s based on how it feels more than how it looks. You create that feeling by how the photos are placed within the book. My upcoming book is all peel-apart film photos taken in America and hopefully there’s a good overall presentation there that will give a certain feel to the viewer based on the contexts and the films used.

JM: Any advice for little known photographers who want to get their work into the public view?

JL: Make books, use Instagram, start groups, websites, podcasts, blogs…

JM: Are there any interesting photography-related stories you would like share?

JL: I photographed Dennis Hopper with 8x10 804 Polaroid film and the one image I kept (I rip up the ones I don’t like until I get the ‘keeper;’ this was back when I was shooting more publication portraits) got stolen from a gallery in Los Angeles and 2-1/2 years later it was recovered. Had it been a print, I would have let it go, but because it was a one-off, and the only 8x10 polaroid of Hopper, it was definitely a bummer. it was nice to get it back. Other than that, I’m usually out there somewhere shooting alone and it’s often pretty uneventful, just me and my cameras.

JM: On a scale of 1 to 10, how cool is Kevin Smith? (And does he chat much?)

JL: 10. super laid back, super cool.

Thanks Jason!

@jasonlee

@filmphotographic

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