Joe McIntyre is a Film Club Member whose photos have caught our attention on Instagram! We decided to reach out to him for an interview and to see more of his photos. He shared with us a group of images from a recent trip he took to Europe (specifically London, Amsterdam, Brussels and Bruges in Belgium). Scroll down to see the photos and read the interview.
PL: What got you interested in film photography?
JM: Back when I was 12, I went on a cross country road trip for a month with my grandmother and my great uncle. My uncle was a high school art teacher and encouraged me to take photographs from our trip. Well before any of us had iPhones or even a phone with a camera capable of capturing more than a dozen pixels, I was learning how to use a pretty basic Canon Rebel camera. At times my uncle was a pain in my ass, always stopping the car and encouraging me to snap a photo of a vista in Utah or an odd looking sign in the middle of New Mexico. But he taught me the basics of photo composition and the practice I got with my film camera was invaluable (despite me tiring of the constant photo lessons as most teens would). I dabbled in photography fairly regularly until I got to college, where photos took a back seat to parties.
Flash to a few years ago, and I happened to go on a trip with a friend where we each got disposable film cameras. I was immediately reminded how fun film photography was once again. I found a manual camera on eBay, got some lessons from Owen Biddle, and now I’m addicted again.
The need to be deliberate in the photos you choose to take on film and the care you need to have with finding the right shot makes any photographer better. Nothing against digital, but I just find the experience of film and the mechanical / analog nature of it very soothing. I love it.
Boat In Bruges
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with, and what kind of film do you usually use?
JM: I have a handful of cameras, but the one I use most often is a Canon AE-1. I found it on eBay from a woman who was selling her grandfather’s old camera after he had passed away. It’s pretty cool to think of the photos this camera has taken over the years and how I’m adding to its history.
As for film, I will shoot pretty much anything, including expired film. The photos that are a part of this member moment were all shot on Portra 400.
Color In Overcast Bruges
White Boat In Canal
PL: What did you enjoy about taking photos of foreign landscapes? Was there anything challenging about it?
JM: Taking photos in a new city is always a thrill because even the seemingly mundane is unique and exciting to shoot. Sure, you kind of have to snap a few photos of Big Ben when in London, but it’s the photos of things those who live in that town would find uninteresting or everyday that I love to grab. In many ways, it’s easier than shooting in your hometown or a place you’re super accustomed to because your eye can tend to gloss over what might be an interesting shot in a place you’re so familiar with. Not the case when visiting a foreign space.
What’s challenging is trying to be inconspicuous when shooting street photography. Hard to do when carrying around 2 cameras and 5 rolls of film at a time. As with any photo trip, there are always thoughts that pop into your head like “I wish I went here in this lighting” or “I wish I could stay here a bit longer and shoot but we’ve got 2 museums to visit and a dinner reservation at 8:00.” You always take what’s in front of you, but photographing foreign places makes you think about all you might have missed even more than you normally would while on vacation.
PL: What are some qualities that you like about color film?
JM: To me, color film photos always have more energy in them than digital photos do. From the imperfections to the grain to the color differences in each film stock, the photos feel more alive. It feels like you’re actually capturing a moment in time, whereas digital doesn’t quite have the “authenticity of moment” compared to film. Maybe it’s just nostalgia. And if it is, I’m fine with that because dammit if nostalgia doesn’t work like a charm.
PL: All of your photos have a nice composition. When photographing, what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
JM: On this trip specifically, I was thinking “will I get hit by a car going the opposite way?” or “will someone on a bike in Amsterdam yell at me for being in their way?”
Aside from that, I am trying to think about what it was about this scene that caught my eye? Is it the scope of size (big or small), the angle, the absurdity, a landmark, the color, the action (or lack thereof)? Then I try to make sure the image tries to only capture one of those elements per shot. If it includes more and it works that’s great! But trying to get too many elements of a scene into a photo, I feel, leads to compositions that are too cluttered or lack a true point of view.
Bruges Water Doorway
PL: Out of all of these images, which is your favorite and why?
JM: I’m going to cheat and go Bruges Water Doorway and London Love. I really like how they both feel as if the photos were from the eye of someone who just briefly glanced to their left of right. No real purpose and not necessarily looking for anything other than letting your eyes wander. More than some other photos I shot where I was working to include some landmark or scene, these take me directly back to the exact moment I shot them, and that’s pretty cool.