Member Moment: Mike James

Film Club
Mike James is a Film Club member who we interviewed this week. The photos he shared with us capture a mix of authentic street scenery and peaceful nature. Scroll down to see his pictures and to read the interview!

PL: What got you interested in film photography?

MJ: I really became interested in film back in about 6 or 7 years ago after becoming a bit tired of shooting with my DSLR and just feeling like I was taking too many photos of a scene just because I could and not necessarily honing the other skills needed like composition that make a good photograph. I think film just helped me to slow down and be much more intentional with how I make pictures and it definitely helped to have a few friends around me who were shooting on film who I could ask questions when I made the jump to film.

PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?

MJ:  I mostly shoot with a Minolta CLE with a 28mm lens and also have been shooting with a Mamiya 6 that I recently just picked up. The vast majority of my work is shot on Portra 400 or 800 because I love how naturally it renders colors and has a slight warmth to it.

PL: What do you enjoy most about film photography and what is challenging about it? 

MJ: For me I would say the thing that I most enjoy is the search for a photo whether that’s going on long walks or drives, I find this process very meditative. Sometimes I have an idea of what I’m looking for and other times I don’t, but it’s always interesting seeing what/who I may come across and the interactions I might have along the way. The most challenging is honestly keeping up with the price of buying film and having it developed/scanned. I wish I had the time and space to develop and scan myself but that’s just a bit too time consuming for me at least for now. With that being said, I can’t ever imagine not shooting film so I guess I’ll just have to keep on paying.

PL:  Could you tell us the story behind one of these photos?

MJ: So the picture of the man in a suit walking in the forest is one that I took on a recent trip to Japan. My friend and I were walking through Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo and it really is such a magical oasis in the middle of the biggest city on Earth. The park is one massive rainforest and aside from the distant rumble of trains, all you can hear is the trees rustling against each other and birds chirping. It was raining off and on that day and we were a bit lost in the park. As we approached this intersection of two trails this man in a suit came walking around the bend. I had my Minolta camera around my neck but knew I had to get this scene on my medium format. I hurried to get it out of my bag and was luckily able to capture this with the small streetlight on as well before the man walked out of the frame. 

PL: When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?

MJ: I think color is one of the big things I am always immediately inspired by and will draw me to a scene but more so than that I feel like I’m always looking for layers in a scene. Shooting with a 28mm lens has really helped me in this because with how wide it is, you’re able to gather a lot more context in the frame that adds layers and helps contextualize whatever you’re photographing. 

PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?

MJ: My favorite would have to be the one of the wildflowers with the houses in the background. I took this last summer in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and this photo means a lot to me because I was back in town due to the loss of a close family member. This was a very difficult time but for that afternoon I was able to just catch up with a close friend of mine and hangout in her beautiful garden where I made this picture. Just the beautiful light of a Midwest summer, the wild nature of her garden, and great conversations with my friend that afternoon helped me and I’ll always cherish that picture.


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!
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