Returning to our Magazine once again to showcase new work with the Lomo'Instant Square Glass, Philly-based photographer Troy Memis' love for instant photography rings true with an impressive array of subject matter captured on square format. With a clear eye for capturing bright colors and dynamic lines, we had to catch up with Troy to discuss shooting squares and street photography tips.
Hi Troy, welcome back to the Magazine! Can you take us through what you were trying to achieve with this new body of work?
To be honest, I was taking this time to try to get better acquainted with the camera. Learning the basics first and then pressing my limits as well as the camera’s. Trying to see what I could or could not get away with when it comes to like, low light or using the wild little multiple exposure lens, and trying to remember to take off the close-up lens when I’m done with it.
What do you look for when you're just walking down the street photographing, anything particular?
I don’t think I am ever looking for anything in particular, I just looking at everything. I am easily over-stimulated just by being outside, so I always look at everything, and try to pay attention to every detail of everything around me. I thoroughly enjoy turning and catching the right angle of a few objects or a shadow at the perfect time of day. I generally like to capture odd shapes, funny angles, shadow play, and saturated colours.
Are there any artist's or photographer's work that you are influenced by?
Oh, for sure. Ed and Deanna Templeton have and will always be super big influences. Ed is one of those photographers that really makes you realize, you just have to take the picture if you want to be a photographer. It’s a lot easier to “be at the right place at the right time,” if you have your camera ready. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a huge reason why portraiture has been a big part of my street shooting as well. I like most of the people connected with the Deadbeat Club.
I do have to say that I really like Jonathan Wilson’s stuff a lot too. I don’t like to keep tabs on too many artists, because I don’t want it to sway what I do, but I like what Jonathan does in connection to what I’ve always tried to go for. I have a second Instagram account titled Seed Catalog that I use as more of a stress/ego-free, bring-the-fun-back-to-photography account. I created it after getting too caught up in the over-saturation of social media that ruined photography for me for a good portion of the last year. While my main account is, I guess, a mixture of average life and “portfolio” type stuff, the secondary account is for digital shots, stuff that just catches my eye while walking around the city, and I think it’s clear that he and I share a likeness in working that way. I honestly love coming back to square format instant film because, although I shoot like that style with 35/120, I used to do it so much when I used 600 film in high school and college days.
Of course this isn't your first rodeo working with the square format as you have worked previously with the Diana F+, has your compositional thinking about square format changed since then? Do you like it more than rectangle?
I will always be a die-hard square frame fan. I do love shooting with fp100-c because I like the peel apart process, but square framing will always be my one true love.
Did working with a medium as gratifying as instant photography change your creative process?
I actually prefer instant film. My favorite camera I own is a Polaroid 180 that I shoot with all the time. I have a few different cameras that use Instax now, as well as some that shoot 600. I just really like to be able to have a print right from the camera. Plus, if I am shooting 35 or 120, sometimes it’s nice to get that test shot before blowing through a few rolls on a subject.
How was working with the Lomo'Instant Square Glass?
I love it. I got the camera as the Kickstarter project sent them out and it was blowing everyone’s mind before it was actually released. I have been shooting with it so much because it is the perfect size for most of my jacket pockets; so I can pop it out, snap, and slide it away no problem.
Do you have any advice for photographers working with the Lomo'Instant Square Glass?
First get used to the viewfinder, then get used to the +/-. After that, just go have some fun! It’s a pretty easy camera — I bet anyone can use it!
You shoot such a wide range of different subject matter, what attracts you to all of it?
I’d probably say my short attention span is responsible, haha. I’m very good at being mid-conversation when walking with someone, only to have them turn around and I’m still a block behind them taking some pictures... then I’ll catch back up and make them stop for a portrait. Unless someone else is driving a car and we have a place to be, I usually try to stop for just about any shot I like. I’m the same way with visual arts. I’ll do half of a series of paintings before I switch to make a few sculptures, a few collages, then back to painting... I don’t really like to pressure the creative process, so I go with whatever feels right at the moment.
How would you describe photography to someone?
I’m not really sure, but I know it would start with me putting an extra camera of mine into their hands. I’m a hands-on learner, so to try to let someone know exactly what it means to me, I feel like I’d have to try my best to get them in my shoes so they can get a relative feeling. From there, the world is their own.
What can we see from you in the future?
As spring breaks, and until winter is back, I will most likely take the time to jump back into fashion photography. I’m not sure exactly what it is about it that attracts me to it, but I think it is because it becomes almost like a game. My friends dressing up in different clothes and getting to pretend to be someone else. You realize that a lot of people can get more confident with modeling when you can shape it like it’s just a funny kind of acting game. Shout out to Electric Garden for allowing me to team up with them and do fun shoots with their stuff that they can then post on their social media as well. Working with friends is always fun.
For more of Troy's work visit their Instagram