For others, using colors can be a challenge but photographer Joe Smith makes it look like a walk in the park. Humble in his words but effective in his work, Joe brings to the table a kind of understanding for colors that is rare and pure. His portraits are vibrant and compelling, much like his drive to add more depth to his work. We are excited to have him on the Magazine. So without further ado, here is Joe Smith and his wonderful world filled with colors.
Hello, Joe. Welcome to the Lomography Online Magazine! How did you get started on your photographic journey?
Hello! Hello! Thanks for having me. I can remember my dad owning a Minolta X300 SLR that I was in awe of as a child. He’d often let me have a go on it. I can’t remember what the results were like. Terrible I would imagine. I was later gifted a Ricoh KR 10 when I was 15. I didn’t really start experimenting with film until I got to university and discovered cross processing slide film. I’ve pretty much kept shooting film ever since.
How would you define photography?
Hmm, let’s say, painting with light. In this case chemically.
What's your favorite thing about it?
Having a creative outlet I get to do for myself. My approach to film is just that. I feel I have complete creative freedom with it.
We really admire your portraits. They just look so vibrant, especially those with gradient colors. Was this a particular style you were going for?
Thanks! Yeah. Stylistically it’s a culmination of a few years of experimenting with different approaches to multiple exposures. combining it with portraiture is what I’ve arrived at.
What part does color play in your work?
It’s pretty much the foundation of my work. I’m constantly searching for new ways to throw color and shape into abstraction.
How would you define your photographic style?
Abstract and experimental.
Why do you still shoot on film? What makes you stay with it?
Mainly It’s the reward I feel from experimentation and in particular executing my ideas using an analogue process that keeps me going back to the medium. There are lots of photographers out there doing such inspiring work on film too. There’s also a strong film shooting community, most notably the Film Shooters Collective. I owe them a thank you for the exposure they have given me.
What is your favorite photograph? Please tell us the story behind it.
There’s a purely abstract image in my selection here that includes an image of an Italian mountain range that I captured from the window of our hire car last year whilst on holiday with friends. We were returning from a day trip to a beautiful wild swimming spot. I can remember how happy I was on the return journey coming down the motorway. I think Radiohead’s Reckoner was playing at the time too.
What challenges you in your creative life? What inspires you?
That’d have to be staying creative. I can often attribute a dip in my mood to when I’m between shoots. I can be quite impatient and I put a bit too much pressure on myself. I’m working on recognizing that these things take time. Up until recently I was a full-time photographer. I’d often find myself doing some pretty soul sucking jobs and making time for this side of my photography has been hugely uplifting and a reminder of the aspects of photography I truly love. As I sit here typing this up I’m scanning four rolls of Kodak Ektar from a recent portrait shoot.
How does a perfect day look like for Joe Smith?
Adventures with friends, taking photos along the way. That day in Italy.