“He was alone and young and willful and wildhearted,” Jan Michellardi quotes. And maybe she is, too. She might be young but her photographs, on the other hand, tell another story beyond these mere adjectives. Meanwhile, let us join her Universe as she talks about how lonely things and empty spaces continually amuse her.
Tell us something about yourself.
Jan Michellardi, 21 years old, perpetual nomad. I recently quit my magazine job to focus on photography and travel some more. I feel misplaced; born in the wrong time, in the wrong place. I’m also really boring.
How/when did you begin taking pictures? What was your first camera?
I never thought much of photography up until I graduated high school. It came suddenly, I never actually remember how I got into it. I just remember wanting to own a camera so I can take photos. I started off with a Canon digital point-and-shoot when I was sixteen and worked my way to a dSLR when I turned eighteen. Then I got bored of it and worked my way back to film. My aunt gave me this Nikon point-and-shoot that we used when we were younger and from then on, I’ve accumulated old film cameras and shot basically analogue.
Describe your style in photography. What are your usual subjects and themes?
I’d like to think that my photographs are honest if not romantic. They don’t really have that particular ‘look’ that sets me apart. I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m trying to get there but my mind just won’t cooperate; it’s always all over the place.
I shoot photographs like I’m writing a journal. I capture & immortalize moments—random bits and minutes of my life, of other people’s lives that we don’t really notice. I’m a very quiet and observant person and I think my photographs somehow reflect that. I have quite the fascination on strangers, the feeling of summer and quiet places.
Amongst your numerous film photographs, which is your favourite?
It’s nothing really special and was just taken using a Vivitar UW&S but I would always remember how in love I was at that particular moment. It was early morning, around 9 and I was outside the east wing of the Angkor Wat, sitting on the stairs and waiting for my friend who was lost inside the temple. It was very quiet when I took my shot.
Every time I look at this photograph, I always remember thinking nothing and feeling everything. Like time stood still. My head was empty but my senses were in overdrive, taking in every fleeting sensation—the smell of the grass, how everything around me was like painted yellowish-brown, how cold the wind was & how the morning sun prickled my skin. All I could think of was beauty, beauty and beauty. It was a calm, romantic moment that I cannot shake off, no matter how many times I look at this photo.
What would be the soundtrack/s for your series of photographs.
I listen to a lot of folk, blues, atmospheric and piano music. Those type of music inspires a lot of my photographs. If you look through photographs from my travels, I suggest you play Eddie Vedder’s original music for the Into The Wild soundtrack.
We all have our idols, which photographer do you look up to?
When it comes to local photographers, hands down, Jake Verzosa. I am a huge fan of his work. I’m obsessed with this photograph he took of a girl waiting inside a cafe in Paris. It’s the kind of photo I wish I took. I look up to a lot of foreign photographers, too. I admire those from the sixties and seventies like Saul Leiter, David Hamilton, Elliott Landy & Charles Harbutt to name a few. Their work are very honest and I always like honesty in photographs. Plus, I am also entranced with Ryan McGinley’s work. It’s magical.
If you could take anyone’s portrait using film, can be living or dead, who (would it be), which (camera would you use), and why?
Bob Dylan. I will forever be in love with him and one photograph (and probably a conversation too) will complete my life. I’d stick with my trusty Canon AE-1. It hasn’t been with me for so long but I’m very loyal to it. It’s been very good to me and I can’t imagine not being with it.
Analogue vs. Digital. What makes analogue/film photography more special than digital?
I use both but I’m very particular about analogue. Digital is convenient. It’s too instant for my liking. I only use it for commercial jobs. I like how personal analogue is. It’s like building a relationship. You (and your equipment) get to know each other, go through rough patches at first, experience happy moments and accidents.. until you find what works best for both. It challenges and inspires; it disappoints and fulfills. I like feeling all those things when making photographs. You feel really connected to the art somehow.
A lot of people are into photography today, what would you say to them to inspire them more?
Take photographs everyday. Open your eyes and take in everything around you & never, ever be afraid to take chances.
Do you have any ongoing/future projects?
I have a few personal projects lined up but I don’t really talk about them. I’m afraid I’ll jinx them. ;) I’m finishing up the second issue of my little online zine, continuing with my contributions for Whilst We Wait and just really trying to focus on building my portfolio.