Based in DC, photographer Frank Thorp V covers Congress for NBC News. Utilizing analog photography methods and our Lomochrome Purple film, Frank's photos of political figures transform the people we see on the news everyday into beautiful and timeless photographs. Check out his work here.
Hi Frank. Introduce yourself to the Lomography community.
Hi! I'm Frank Thorp V, and I live in DC. I love traveling with my partner, rock climbing with my friends, and I cover Congress for NBC News as a Producer & Reporter. The job is a lot of logistics and reporting, but journalism (particularly television journalism) has changed so that we end up doing much more than that, including shooting video and pictures. That, mixed in with Twitter and Instagram, means we pretty much need to be a jack of all trades, but photography has been a particular passion of mine for a long time, and Capitol Hill can be a particularly photogenic place to shoot.
How did your interest in photography begin?
I've been interested in photography since I was a kid, when I saved up my money to buy one of those digital cameras that took floppy disks. I messed around for a while, but didn't get serious until I lived and worked as a journalist in Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake. I got a serious camera and would spend all day riding on the back of motorcycles with professional photographers who would give me advice on how to shoot in some of the worst conditions I've ever experienced. I quickly learned that when it comes to journalism, if you're where the photographers are, you're usually in the right place.
Tell us more about your job shooting for NBC News. How did that come about and what is it like?
To be honest, shooting pictures is not my primary, secondary or even tertiary job at NBC News, which gives me a ton of freedom. For our coverage purposes for both television and our website, we use the images from the amazing photojournalists for the photo agencies that cover Capitol Hill, which gives me the opportunity to be more creative and less conventional in my shooting.
Why is it important for you to photograph these subjects on film?
It's almost a cliche, but considering how fast-paced today's news cycle is, I love the idea of slowing down the process, being more deliberate in what I shoot, and following the journey all the way through the development and printing processes. I didn't start shooting film until 2017, had never even seen a darkroom before, and film photography has opened up this entire new world of creative possibilities. I also appreciate having a tangible, touchable record of these moments, not just files on a hard drive. I borrowed my first film camera, a Hasselblad, from Pete Williams, the Justice Correspondent at NBC News (who is also an avid and amazing photographer himself), who has mentored me through the world of film photography. Since then, I've started shooting 35mm and 4x5 as well, using the darkroom at the Smithsonian to print, and just recently started developing black and white at home. For me, everything old is new, which is exciting. For the professional photojournalists who have been doing this for decades, they've been there--done that. But they've been so incredibly supportive and encouraging, which has made shooting film on Capitol Hill a ton of fun.
What is your favorite thing about shooting with Lomochrome Purple?
I loved using the trippy color shifts in Lomochrome Purple to portray what is typically a very serious setting. Congress is going through this historic, and very sobering, process of potentially impeaching a president of the United States, so why not shoot it with purple-tinted film? The color shift also gives it a look like the pictures were taken from a different era, making it appear like you're capturing decades-old moments of current-day lawmakers. There are lots of blue suits on Capitol Hill, those became green. The trees outside became purple, the sky turned a shade of cyan, and the yellow of the tungsten lights at press conferences became pink — it was wild.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers looking to work in the same field as you?
Practice and practice and practice. Pay attention to the kinds of pictures that run in newspapers and follow the photojournalists that shoot them on Instagram, where they can share alternative and creative versions of those shots. Don't be afraid to take pictures of people, knowing that it might be awkward at first. Try to think outside the box and try new mediums (like purple-tinted film). And to be honest, just let your passion show through. Some of the greatest advice I've received has come from photojournalists on Capitol Hill that have just recognized that I love photography. The community is so amazing, so supportive, I draw so much inspiration from them, and I feel so lucky every day to be able to shoot alongside some of these photographers, as well as call them my friends.
If you like Frank's work, check out more on his Instagram.