I discovered my love of film photography by accident. Being a collector, I have always frequented thrift stores for anything I could find of interest. About two years ago I picked up a 35mm Pentax SLR out of curiosity and decided I was going to try and learn how to shoot. Prior to this, I had never really had much interest in photography. I would visit art museums and skip over the photography sections for paintings or other visual arts.
The majority of my experience with photos was borrowing my family’s point and shoot digital camera for trips or taking pictures on my phone. I was pretty late to the smartphone game so that led to some low-quality pictures. Having always been very DIY I decided it was best to learn as I went and just read what I could about photography and shooting with film. I’m also an old soul in ways and analog is always the purest form of media to me. I collect vinyl records, record my music on tape when I can, nerd out about movies being shown on film stock – which never happens in my area of the world – and now shoot film.
It was a very trial and error process and still is. Learning to develop black and white on my own was very rewarding and at the same time stressful because science can be temperamental and confusing at times. However, there is no better feeling than shooting a roll of film, going home to develop, scan and view the photos on my laptop. I soon went down the endless rabbit holes of researching different film cameras, film stocks, alternative processes, and so on. It has more than kept me busy and interested and led me to a community of people who are very passionate about an amazing art form.
I started playing music on and off when I was in high school and recorded and released my first record in 2015. For my first album cover, I used a found photo of my grandmother and the next couple of records, used digital iPhone photos.
Once I started shooting film, however, the two loves sort of merged and it only made sense to use them together. The first album I used film with was a 2016 release titled “Picture Show” which used a double exposed picture of my then girlfriend shot with that thrift store Pentax.
Around the same time, I also went back to school to take some graphic design classes so was able to use the little Photoshop knowledge I gained to help with the font design and layouts of the album art. I have now released 13 more albums, 11 of which use various film photographs taken over a span of two years. None of the photos used were taken with the sole intention of using them as album art. I have found photos from my collection that seemed to fit the tone and sound of that specific record.
It has been a very rewarding creative process. To be able to give another use to a photo that otherwise may have not been anything special or out of the ordinary enhances the experience and gives the photograph a purpose I wouldn’t have realized when I first viewed the image. A lot of inspiration has come from some of my favorite photographers and musicians who used photography to create iconic album art. Whether it be Mick Rock’s overexposed Lou Reed photo for the “Transformer” album or Big Star using the William Eggleston lightbulb photo for “Radio City” or Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of Patti Smith for her “Horses” album.
All of these and so many more have been extremely influential in my work. The crossover between music and other visual arts like photography is a wonderful example of how art is such a wonderful and endless outlet.
Thanks for reading,
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