JD Lotz is a Film Club Member who just started using film this year! The work he submitted to our Best of the Year exhibit caught our attention so this week we decided to interview him and share a collection of his photographs with the community. Scroll down to see it all.
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
JDL: It was actually TikTok that spurred me to get into film photography. I started seeing all these film content creators come across my feed and thought, “hey that looks fun, I’m going to try that”. I think I discovered that with film there’s a certain connection to the camera, and in turn the images, that I never felt when I’ve shot digital. It makes the process so much more rewarding, and the end result becomes more satisfying because it only comes after the challenges that film imposes.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?
JDL: All of these photos were taken with my Konica Autoreflex TC. It was a lucky Facebook Marketplace find, and the seller included three prime lenses (a 28mm, 50mm, and 135mm), a flash, and a handful of filters. Being able to shoot multiple focal lengths has really allowed me to explore how I shoot and opened up some opportunities I don’t think I would’ve had otherwise.
I also have an Olympus Stylus II Zoom point-and-shoot. It was actually my mom’s camera that we used as a family when I was a kid and before digital really took over. I mostly use it now for occasions where I can’t bring the Konica, or for just capturing memories with my family.
In terms of film, I shoot almost exclusively color. I’ve really liked Kodak Ultramax and Gold, and probably consider Ultramax my “default” at this point. I shot one roll of ColorPlus for the first time recently and loved how it came out, so I anticipate using it more in the future as well. Some others I’ve tried are Cinestill 400D, Portra 400, Fuji 400, and Wolfen NC400. I love trying new films and seeing how they each have their own look, so I’m always open to recommendations.
PL: There are a range of subjects within this collection of photos. When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?
JDL: At first (and still mainly, I would say) I used my photography to capture this city which I love so dearly. The beauty of Philadelphia never fails to impress, and there’s always something new to be found that inspires me to capture it on film. But now I’ve also been using it as a way to enhance some of my other interests and hobbies. I’ve photographed trains, cars, animals, astronomy, buildings, nature, events I’ve gone to, the list goes on. All of these are areas of my life that I have passions for outside of just the photography realm. More and more I find myself grabbing my camera to bring along with me somewhere, rather than forcing myself to go out to take pictures just to take pictures. It’s been incredibly fun and I consider myself very fortunate that I’m able to create art that intersects so strongly with other aspects of my life.
PL: Your photos have a strong composition. When photographing, what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
JDL: I think at first it really was just “hey this looks cool”. As I’ve developed my eye, though, I’ve started to notice more things about a scene that would inspire me to capture it. Things like rays of light, the way a shadow falls on the subject, parallel lines, a repetitive pattern, empty space, maybe a certain pop of color. I also try to be really intentional about where I place my focus and how I can manipulate the depth of field to best highlight the subject or scene. It’s tough because you know that what’s in the viewfinder isn’t exactly what will make it onto the film, but I think that’s what makes it all the better when I get my scans back from the lab and am able to see if I was able to capture my vision the way I wanted to.
PL: Very few of your photos include people. Is this an intentional choice? If so, why?
JDL: Honestly I think shooting people is a little scary for me. When I started shooting film I always tried to avoid having any people in the scene, and I didn't even want people to see me using the camera or taking photos either. It felt very much like a personal activity and having people around added pressure. As I’ve built confidence in using the camera and in the work that I put out, I’ve experimented more with including people, and I even did a portrait session for the first time recently. Photographing people, and moving subjects in general, presents an interesting challenge with film since you can’t just hold down the shutter button and choose the best one in the end. As I mentioned above, one of my favorite parts of photography is combining my interests, and some areas I haven’t explored too much yet are sports and music photography. I’m hoping to dive into those at some point, and those will obviously give me more opportunities to shoot and get comfortable with shooting people.
PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?
JDL: My favorite by far is the astro photo. It was the most fun, most difficult, and had the biggest payoff of any photo I’ve ever taken. I’ve always loved astronomy and ever since I was a kid I’ve had a telescope, so it only made sense to give astrophotography a shot. Leading up to it I did a lot of research, but there’s not a ton of people doing analog astrophotography anymore so it wasn’t too easy. The image was taken at the observatory at Stockton University near Atlantic City. The film I used was Kodak Ultramax and it was a 1 minute exposure at f/3.5. I was not confident at all after shooting and fully expected it to come out blank or blurry or any other sort of messed up. But getting the scans back from the lab and seeing the stars so perfectly captured and the dome of the observatory exposed just right put the biggest smile on my face.
Every day, Club Members take exceptional pictures. If you are not a Film Club Member yet what are you waiting for? Join today to support the photo community in Philly and to start saving money on film processing!