Friday, February 1, 2013

Interview with Patrick Joust

Patrick Joust is a librarian and self-taught photographer based in Baltimore, who was featured on Shooting Film before with his gorgeous analog automobile shots. Patrick has been do photography over 10 years now, he shoots mostly film with multiple cameras in multiple formats. We had a talk with Patrick to find out more about him self and his passions for film photography.

Hi Patrick, can you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Patrick. I’m a 35 year old photographer living in Baltimore, Maryland with my wife Amy and my newborn son Llewelyn. I work at the city’s main public library as a reference librarian and instructor.

How long have you been into photography, and why choose film?
I’ve been interested in taking my own pictures for over 10 years now, but starting about 5 or 6 years ago it became an increasingly important part of my life. I choose to shoot film because I can’t replicate how I want to capture things through digital means. I shoot digital as well and have been shooting a little more of it lately and sometimes I really love what can be achieved with digital photography, but I still gravitate towards film because of the higher resolutions (medium format and larger) that can be achieved as well as the look of different emulsions. Part of it is that I’m also lazy. I like being able to choose an emulsion and work within those parameters rather than have a lot of extra post-processing to do afterwards with digital. I do post processing with my digitized film images to correct exposure, clone out dust, etc., but it’s not as labor intensive, most of the time, as when I’m dealing with digital shots. It’s an explanation that probably seems counter intuitive, but that’s how it is for me.

What film cameras do you use and which is your favourite?
Another reason I shoot film more is because I enjoy shooting with TLRs and rangefinders and they either don’t come in a digital format or are just too expensive for me. One of my favorite cameras is my Leica M3, but since 75% of my work is medium format, I should also mention my Rolleiflex 2.8F, Yashica Mat 124 and increasingly the Mamiya C330 (for night work). I guess it’s hard for me to just choose one.

Talk to us about your background in photography?
I’m self taught and while it sort of developed as a hobby at first, it’s definitely become something more. I got into it somewhat late when I was 24. I wish it was something I got into when I was younger but I never thought of myself as a creative person, perhaps because of a lack of confidence, and so while I was very interested in art and music and other things, I didn’t really produce anything. Photography has been the perfect outlet for me and I think it’s helped me appreciate the creativity of others to a greater degree than I did when I was merely a consumer of other people’s work.

Are you a full time photographer or is it just a hobby?
I don’t make my living through photography but as I said above, I would consider it much more than a hobby. When I first started I never thought anyone would want to buy my prints, publish my images and use some of my work in various projects, so it’s been exciting and fun. I certainly never thought people would find my work interesting enough to ask me questions about it in a format such as this. But even if all of that wasn’t happening, the satisfaction I receive from taking pictures is an important part of my life and when I compare it to other past pursuits (hobbies) it’s clear that it plays a much more central role day to day. I don’t think I’ll ever make my living from photography because I like to make my own work and do things my own way, but that’s never been the goal or end point for me. I just want to take good photos of people and things I find interesting.

What does film photography mean to you? Do you have any tips for someone who’s just picking up a film camera?
That’s difficult to sum up. Film photography gives me a lot of variety and options that aren’t covered yet by digital formats. The slower process, the limited frames, etc., do help with developing your skills but I also think digital is an excellent learning tool and can help make film photographers better.

As far as advice goes...

I’m always pushing Fred Parker’s Ultimate Exposure Computer, which will give any photographer a good basis for determining proper exposure.

I’d also say that anyone starting off shouldn’t be too beholden to dogma or tradition or what others say film photography should all be about. Keeping things simple and finding your own way are part of the process and the fun of it all. Don’t be afraid to shoot both digital and film and use digital to help develop your film photography (it’s considerably cheaper to waste digital frames than film). I also notice that a lof of people getting into film sometimes make it more expensive than it needs to be. There are a lot of good old cameras out there and you don’t have to shoot the most popular ones to get the best pictures. My first medium format camera was the fantastic Super Ricohflex, which I bought for 25 dollars. They’re a little more now, but still very affordable and even though it’s not as finely crafted as a Rolleiflex, cameras like these still take excellent pictures (I shot 8 rolls with it last weekend).

Above all it should be fun. Take what you’re doing seriously but don’t fret too much over every mistake or missed moment. Photography has its own language and should be enjoyed for its own sake. Take lots of pictures and look at even more pictures that others have taken. Listen to good music, read good books, mix it all together and see what you come up with.

Patrick, thank you so much for the great interview.

More of Patrick Joust's work on his website, Flickr photostream and Tumblr page.

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