As a primarily analogue photographer I utilize both 35mm and 120mm film throughout my projects. At an early age I was taught an appreciation for the materiality of film photography. My father, a fine art photographer himself, gifted me my first camera, his own 1980 Nikon F3. With this tool for interpreting the world hanging around my neck, I began to photograph my many hometowns: the American West of Los Angeles, California and Reno, Nevada; as well as the suburban streets of my Greek-immigrant grandparents’ neighborhood in Montreal, Canada. I started to print drugstore prints—simple, straightforward color photographs of my high school friends, as well as landscapes and cars and corners of buildings. I was beginning to tell visual stories through the use of film photography.
Today I am still creating portraits of both people and place through analogue photography. I walk. I talk. I sit. I listen. I record. I photograph. I believe the aesthetic qualities of the medium (i.e., control of grain, sensitivity to light, mature color palettes) are unmatched. To feel the amber of mining tailings, the bleached mint-greens of sagebrush, or the pale tenderness of a motorcyclist’s eye creases—my medium of sensitive expression is color film. Additionally, I have come to understand how my analogue practices help me form a nuanced relationship with my photographic subject. When shooting medium-format film with my 1950s 1000F Hasselblad camera, I use to my advantage a mechanical process that it so worth the few precious minutes it takes to work through.
From loading the film to using a light meter to adjusting for exposure, frame, and focus, this camera demands patience and time. In contrast to rapid-fire, digital documentary capturing, this analogue workflow allows me the space and time to speak and connect with the individuals I am photographing. Additionally, my vintage camera serves as a point of conversational interest between subject and photographer. Questions arise such as: “Why are you using such an old camera?” “Can you even buy those anymore?” “How did you learn to use such as camera?” In this space that allows questions about the artist’s processes, the subject’s anxieties begin to dissipate through relaxed conversation. These talks soon veer away from the camera and into a more open and intimate discussion of the fieldwork questions at hand. The analogue camera as a social tool for my work is an essential element for breaking down the power dynamics inherent in the art of photography.
As an artist and social documentarian, I am invariably questioning my own methodology, as well as issues of gaze, privilege and power. My analogue processes have come to prompt, inform and influence these questions and consequently, my photographic projects.