Purpose through chance — it might sound paradoxical but that is what happened with photographer Justin Piercy. It all started with a 35 mm camera that he didn't see a future with, a Canon AE-1 that was initially sentenced to gather dust in a shelf. He turned the focus ring, peered into the viewfinder, and felt the need to load up a roll of film in it and start shooting. After getting his film developed and scanned at the drugstore, he knew was hooked. He sold all his digital photography gear and never looked back.
After this chance encounter with the Canon AE-1, Justin went on to shoot more and more with film. When asked how film photography fit into his life, this is what he had to say:
“Photography is something I've been interested in for the last ten years and I like getting in the car and driving the backroads. It is my source of relaxation, I find it peaceful to be driving the roads less traveled and finding an interesting subject or scene is always exciting. I choose to shoot film because I absolutely love the look of the photos, the depth and detail especially. When I was shooting digital I dreaded the editing process. Film allows me to focus on taking the shot and not have to worry about anything else, once the shutter is pressed and the image is captured on the film that is the final result and I appreciate that.”
This unexpected turn became the start of a photo journey for Justin. Soon he was traveling to different parts of Canada in search of places and things to photograph. Along these backroads were places that were forgotten — abandoned, unseen, and left to fade from memory. Justin found a subject that he wanted to photograph. He found a purpose — to tell the story of these places and objects before they vanish as time and decay take over. It's not always a joyful sight but there is a certain kind of beauty in Justin's photos of dilapidated structures and vehicles.
“I don't really know exactly what it is about abandonment that I am so interested in, to be honest. I think it is the fact that every, house, vehicle, school, church, etc that have been left behind all have their own story. While standing in front of these places I think of who built them and why they were abandoned and I always wonder what happened to the families that once occupied them. Abandoned vehicles especially interest me, I think about how happy somebody must have been to pick out and purchase the vehicle and how it ended up in its final resting place. Many of them still have the keys left in the ignition.”
Simply put, these abandoned places are reminders left behind by people and they are wonderfully preserved by Justin on film. It's a sort of documentation of things that will soon cease to exist and although they're not the most lively things to look at, they give us a different point of view — stories have endings and these photographs are here to remind us about that.
Talent and skill merge in Justin's work. It's also a mix of passion and dedication because what started as a passing thing became a practice in refinement and improvement. When asked about his compositions for his photographs, this is what he had to say:
“I feel like my compositions have come a long way in the past year since I started shooting on film because I'm no longer able to rely on editing to make the image interesting so I'm slowing down and looking for compositions that will add interest to the shot. I really like the look of certain color films, Ektar and Portra especially so I'd say they're definitely a part of the consistency.”
We love what Justin has done with his work and we hope that he continues his journeys even if they often have the most difficult routes to take. Here's to hoping we'll continue to see more of his work and the stories he's picked up along the way.
We would like to thank Justin for letting us feature his images on the Magazine. More of his work can be found on Instagram.