film-photography

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When I really think about it, It’s incredible how much scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard has influenced my photographic style. If someone were to ask me for a list of photographers who influence me, rather than a list of accomplished photographers, mine would be comprised of people that I follow on Tumblr. My peers. 

I’ve found that I gravitate towards photos that I can relate to, photos that were taken on a walk through the city or on a friends couch. Photographers that take a more journalistic approach are often times the ones that I keep coming back to. Those that have a tendency to document naturally rather than calculate the perfect shot.

Which brings us to this edition of Life Behind a Lens’s Troy Memis, one of those guys that you know always has a camera on hand. I’ve been following Troy’s work for quite some time and his ability to present every day life in incredible ways really just doesn’t get old.

AMT: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Troy: I’m not actually too good at talking about myself, or much at all. That’s sort of why I take pictures. Although I am able to talk to people quite well, I’m not the biggest fan of it. Sometimes it ruins things. Like when people call me a photographer. I am very quick to turn down the idea that I am a photographer, because I rarely ever try to get what I want. Most of my shooting is situational. I am content with calling myself a photojournalist. The way I think of it is; my grandfather shot photographs, my mother shot photographs, I’ll probably shoot photographs. I have a terrible memory, and thats really why I shoot. Good or bad, everything that happens in my life, IS my life. I want to remember it all. I like that.

AMT: You mentioned that your grandfather and mother shot a lot of photographs, did you shoot with them when you were young? learn from them?
Troy: Unfortunately, my grandfather wasn’t doing nearly as much shooting as I grew older. I do not know for sure why my grandfather shot in the first place, or what brought an end to his shooting; but I can only assume that my grandfather shot for the same reason that myself and my mother shoot. My grandfather spent his life as a (mainly minor league) baseball player, traveling all over the states. That’s a lot to take in. Most of the final pictures I remember him taking were at my parent’s wedding. Im sure he took more after, but I know he also did more video later. As for my mum, she captured mainly family photographs, and still does to this day. I can’t say I got to learn anything about it from either, because I think they both liked it to capture memories, but not so much to become the next Ansel Adams or anything.

AMT: Do you think that they have influenced the way you take pictures now?
Troy: I know, for sure, that the two of them have influenced what I do, because I do just the same. Documenting all I do for the sake of documenting. I don’t think they really had any sort of specific style but then again, I don’t really think I do either.

AMT: Your photojournalistic approach to taking pictures is what really drew me to your photography in the first place; I appreciate the sincerity of it. I also love the “everything that happens in my life, IS my life” outlook, and appreciating a picture for what it is. I’ve actually been thinking about that a lot recently.
Troy: I suppose this isn’t so much of a question, but I do greatly appreciate the kind words.

AMT: What’s your favorite lunch spot in Philadelphia, what do you order?
Troy: I’m not really one for lunch; much too busy most of the time. But for breakfast I’ll take any place with good huevos rancheros, and dinner is the easy choice of Royal Tavern; home of my favorite jukebox in town.

AMT: You mentioned that you generally prefer a photo to words. In a few words…why are pictures better than words?
Troy: Maybe because we’ve become a culture of lazy speakers. Much like that quote from “Dead Poets Society”. I don’t know it verbatim, because I never read the book.. Actually, I never saw the movie either. Everything is slang and abbreviations these days; but pictures, they still carry the same amount of meaning they always have.

AMT: Why do you shoot film?
Troy: I really enjoy the hands-on with film. I took a darkroom photography class my sophomore year of High School (2004-05), instead of staying in my study hall class. I learned what I needed to learn that year from a teacher I had known from my sister having him years before. I never owned a camera with working light meter until I started using my Minolta Maxxum 7000 in about 2013, so I had learned it all by strictly training my eye. By my junior year, when I was supposed to be able to actually take the class, Mr Garrett, had me teach the class; from mechanics of the cameras, all of the film processes (from rolling to developing), and using the enlargers/doing print. As a senior, I took the class for what was to be a third time, but with Mr Garrett retiring the year before, the new teacher had me teach the class for another half a year, as well as a half a year of teaching photoshop.. which I never even really used before - I just picked it up quickly. Anyway, I’ve just always had a film camera and so that’s all I ever really knew. When it came to trying to make the switch to digital, there were really just too many new dials and buttons that I just didn’t have the patience to try to learn.  Especially when I just already knew how to use my film camera as well as I did.

Name: Troy Memis
Camera(s): Minolta Maxxum 7000, Pentax P3, Leica MiniZoom, and numberless amounts of other point -and-shoots and disposables.
Film(s): Fuji Superia X-Tra 400, almost always.
Website: Tumblr, Prints & Zines