Photographer, filmmaker, Youtuber, translator, and guitarist Joan Michel, wears many caps, to say the least. Starting out with her dad's Canon AL-1, she used film to slow down and figure out compositions and framing. "I’m a full-time photographer and filmmaker who focuses on narratives showcasing portraits of their authentic self and brings awareness to mental health," she says. Armed with a Simple Use Film Camera in Black and White, she photographed skateboarders coming together to protest for the Black Lives Matter movement, and recorded her experience shooting with our reloadable camera. Check out her video as well as her interview below!
Hello Joan! It's great to have you here at Lomography. First off, can you tell us why you still shoot analogue?
I still shoot in analogue because I enjoy the medium more than digital. There’s more of a concentration to the process that makes you feel more connected with your work when shooting in film. The medium is so timeless in comparison to digital that can never be replicated I feel. I also shoot in 16mm in my short films and there’s just more grit to the footage than documenting in digital. It takes time to make art, and cutting and splicing film on a Steenbeck is more fulfilling than editing on Adobe Premiere.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I find inspiration from my personal experiences and the people in my life who all made an impact in my life. I feel that you should use what’s in front of you instead of being stuck on social media getting lost seeing the same things. Sometimes what you’re searching for is right in front of you.
What makes you press the shutter?
I don’t know why this question made me laugh. But I press the shutter right before the exact moment is about to happen in my head. So exactly when I press the shutter then the moment I want to capture is the exact of what I wanted and/or sometimes it’s not and that’s okay too. Happy accidents.
Are you a skater yourself? How do analog photography and skating go together?
I skate to just cruise around my neighborhood and I enjoy the skate culture that I probably binge so many skate videos during quarantine. Analog photography and skating have been around for a long time. It was the medium used to document the sport and lifestyle since the beginning. There’s just something nostalgic and timeless for both genres.
Can you tell us more about this series?
In the beginning of June, my friend Lauren told me about this BLM protest happening in NYC that revolved around skateboarders coming together to skate and protest for the same cause. I was hesitant to go because of course social distancing and such and there’s a pandemic still going on. However, something in me told me to drive my car and had to capture the event in Harlem.
Why did you choose to shoot it in black and white and on film?
I always felt that whenever I shot in black and white, it was always because they were monumental events that needed to be captured that you’ll look back on and say that’s history I documented.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
First off, I got hit by a skateboard the moment I went to get my simple use film camera out of my bag and the skater was doing a trick where I was standing. The skater
apologized but I thought what a great way to get involved. Another one would probably be figuring out who wanted to get photographed, because of social distancing.
Why was it important for you to shoot this series?
It was important because a global pandemic doesn’t happen often and the fact the world is more awake than ever to protest about social justice for people of color and I’m in the epicenter of it all, nothing beats that.
Do you have any other projects we should be on the lookout for?
I always work on videos/short films that are posted on my YouTube channel. You can just check my social media on what I’m currently working on.