Member Moment: Samantha Choy

Film Club

This week we interviewed Film Club Member Samantha Choy. She was recently featured in our gallery show Best of the Year and has regularly submitted to the photo contest on Instagram each week. Her photos have always caught our attention so we wanted to see more of her photos and learn about her relationship with photography.

Q: What got you interested in photography?
A: I can’t pinpoint exactly what piqued my interest. I chalk it up to being a creative person by nature. I did spend my younger years looking up to my cousin, Jen, who dabbled in photography and I always wanted to be just like her. I was always capturing memories whether it be on a pink plastic Barbie camera, a digital point and shoot, or my iPod touch. In high school I took a darkroom photography class and borrowed my dad’s Pentax film camera for that. In college, I registered for a darkroom photography class and then at the last minute, dropped it to fulfill my science elective just to get it over with. I still regret that since I barely passed that Physics course! But during my last year at Temple University I signed up for a PhotoJournalism class that really launched me into photography. It was my first time working with a DSLR, and I almost never went anywhere without it. It was one of the most challenging classes, and owe a lot to that experience. It introduced me to street photography and a photography community in Philly where I’ve made good friends from. 

Q: What type of camera do you shoot with and what type of film do you usually use? 
A: When I am just walking around on the street I am usually shooting with my Minolta X700. I just recently got a Canonet QL17 from my boyfriend, who very thoughtfully gifted me one after a comment I made at the Best of the Year show! Sometimes I will use my Sony a7iii for street photography, but it is mostly reserved for professional jobs. During the summer of 2020, I bulk ordered a ton of Kodak UltraMax 400 and have just been making my way through that stock, so I haven’t explored any others yet.  And it takes me a long time to shoot through a single roll of film!

Q: Many of your images have a strong composition. When photographing, what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
A: Admittedly when I am just out shooting for fun, I am not really considering the composition when I take a photo. I just kind of see what I like, point and shoot, but I know there’s more to it. It’s always been difficult for me to articulate what draws me to a particular scene, because when I take a step back to look at my photography there isn’t a consistency or “theme”, just what I find beautiful. I love the seemingly simple, ordinary, and mundane. There are these objects, places and things we pass every day and don’t think twice about. But when I’m walking through these streets, I’m  seeing and noticing everything in detail and constantly thinking of how I can capture it and turn it into a thing of beauty. 

Q: Many of your photos in this series are taken on the street. What do you enjoy about photographing street scenes and what is challenging about it? 
A: The challenge is pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I love photographing individuals on the street who are unaware and unassuming just going about their day. I prefer to go about it in a way that is not intrusive. Although, sometimes to get a good shot you need to get close and that’s hard for me, and sometimes what stops me from even going out to shoot at all. But really, I love how they are moments only I have captured and only I will ever be able to capture. A moment that can’t be recreated and a photograph that is uniquely mine.

Q: There are a few portrait photos within this collection. Do you like photographing people? If so, what do you like about it? 
A: I do like photographing people! I prefer to capture people in their natural element. Especially my loved ones, in the comfort of their own spaces just being, not feeling like they need to look or act or be a particular way for the camera. I am capturing them exactly the way I see them, and how beautiful and lovely they are to me when they’re just letting themselves be. It’s also a reminder to enjoy the small moments and find the beauty in them.

Q: Out of this series of photos do you have a favorite? If so, why? 
A:  My favorite photo is the one of my grandmom by default because she’s my favorite person to photograph. And in any photo I’ve taken of her, I feel like you can sense there's so much more than meets the eye, like there is so much going on in her head. She is such an expressive person and I love how these photographs show that, even when she isn’t trying to be. From her facial expression, to what she’s doing with her hands, to her posture.

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