Doug Smith is a regular customer and Film Club Member at PhotoLounge. We love seeing the photos he tags us in on Instagram and seeing him at gallery openings. These photos represent his enjoyment of taking “snapshot/slice of life” photos on film. Scroll down to read an interview with him.
Q: What got you interested in film photography and what do you like most about it?
A: I never felt very artistic growing up, I never felt very good at or even interested in art class. Then I took a film photography class my sophomore year in high school and learned how to shoot and develop film, as well as enlarge prints in a darkroom. I immediately fell in love with the process. I think what I like most is the feeling of magic that film photography gives me. Not knowing what your photos look like right after taking them, in this instant gratification day and age that we’re living in, is extremely satisfying. The feeling that I get when I get my photos back, the moment that the anticipation of waiting for them is over, there is no other feeling like it in the world. Capturing a moment in time, freezing it on film, throwing some chemicals on the negatives, in a dark room where you can’t see what you’re doing, even if someone else is doing that part for me now, and then having something tangible and permanent as a print in the end - that’s magical.
Q: What camera do you regularly shoot with and what type of film?
A: This is a tough one. I recently purchased a Contax G2, which is the camera I’ve wanted since I was 18. I’m 31 now, so it took a while, and it was a bumpy road obtaining one, but I finally have one and am madly in love with it. However, some of the best photos I’ve taken come from point and shoot cameras I find at thrifts, or that were handed down to me from friends or family. My go to film is Portra 400, but I think I’m going to start shooting with Ektar 100 soon.
Q: Some of your photos seem to focus on the simple and everyday things in life. What draws you to take pictures of these objects/scenes?
A: I take a lot of inspiration from snapshot style photographers Juergen Teller, Wolfgang Tillmans, Daido Moriyama, Nan Goldin, and Diane Arbus, who’s work I’ve studied and followed most of my adult life. I love the playful yet uneasy feelings their photos make me feel. Sometimes I see things in the city, or wherever I am, that really shock or surprise me, even though they might be considered simple or everyday things. I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time a lot of the time when I have a camera with me. I love seeing something that someone else would see differently, capturing it, and sharing my interpretation of it. I think it’s fun to look at really mundane things or moments and create a composition from that.
Q: There are a few portraits or pictures of people included in this collection of photos. Do you enjoy photographing people? Is that something you want to expand on?
A: I have a complicated relationship with portraiture. I love taking portraits, but I feel like I’m better at photographing objects or landscapes. I’m definitely shy when it comes to photographing strangers, even friends. But I want to try to work on that. I would love to take more portraits. I feel like it’s such an intimate experience, taking a portrait of someone, and I feel like it takes so much from both photographer and subject. It’s a really beautiful thing that I’d love to expand on.
Q: Do you have a favorite photo that you have taken or one that you are really proud of? Why is it a favorite of yours?
A: I really like the photo I took at Laurel Hill Cemetery of a statue of an angel with a broken wing. I took it from behind her, purposely not showing her face. I think sometimes I unknowingly or subconsciously project feelings I’m having into the photographs I take, which often doesn’t hit me until after I get my photos back. If you look closely, you can see a massive wasp’s nest on her other wing, which I didn’t even notice when I took the photo. I love happy accidents like that.
Q: Do you have something in mind that you would want to continue to capture or have yet to capture?
A: I definitely want to stay true to my snapshot style/slice of life approach to photography until the day I die. I’m a huge fan of taking a camera with me everywhere I go. You never know when you’re going to see something interesting. It sometimes takes me months to finish a roll, because sometimes I just don’t feel inspired. But then when I do, and I have my camera on me, that magic feeling comes back and takes over me. In terms of something I’d want to capture, I really want to visit and photograph the Southern US and Midwestern US. I’d also give anything to travel to and photograph Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Japan.