He finds film photography a very natural way of seeing and taking pictures: Joe Greer documents everyday life: when he’s at work, when he travels, when he watches his nephew’s high school football game, when he’s out vacation or just driving around Nashville at night. The images of him are a reflection of his being and the things he stumbles upon. He hopes the viewer will feel a touch of nostalgia when looking at them.
What makes film photography special to you compared to digital photography?
Analog photography has become a very natural way for me to see and take pictures. Like many other things in life, analog always seems to find its way back to a new generation. That is exactly what has happened to me. The physical and tactile nature of the entire filmmaking process is a very satisfying way of making images. This is why I will always gravitate towards analog over digital. The movie feels like magic.
What are the challenges of analog photography?
I have to say, and this is a typical movie cliché, that digital has programmed many young photographers (myself included) to want the gratification of seeing your photos right away. So the challenge is to be patient and trust your intuition and skill set that you made the right exposure. Even after all these years, I still struggle with this urge from time to time. It is challenging, but also very rewarding to unlearn the digital trends that have taught me.
How would you describe the “look and feel” of analog photography?
Much of the “look” to me is simply embedded in the chemistry itself. Cinema sings in a way that digital does not.
You shoot with the Leica M6, which was first released in 1984. Why this camera?
There was a person in my life, Mike McDonald, who introduced me to Leica in 2014. I’m pretty sure he shot with a Typ 240. At that time he was very interested in shooting movies. And while he was educating me on all things Leica and history, one day he mentioned, “if you’re going to start shooting, I think you’d really like the Leica M6.” The rest is history.
Now a new M6… comes to the market. Is analogue photography experiencing a renaissance?
I really hope so and I think it is happening. I started noticing the spike in early 2020 and during the pandemic. I couldn’t be more excited that the classic M6 is back in production. This is going to be very important to the current and next generation of photographers who love to shoot movies.
Your photos look very natural, is that what you want from photography?
I’d say it’s a lens, but it’s not something I’m thinking about when I’m taking photos. I find a lot of pleasure in documenting daily life and these photographs often end up being a reflection of my life and the things I come across.
What do you look for in your photos?
I like to photograph almost anything and everything. Daily life. In the form of work, travel, my nephew’s high school football game, vacation with the family, or just a summer night trip with Madison herein Nashville. I want to make sure that in whatever situation life throws my way, I can make a photograph that is something interesting or captivating to look at. The biggest part of it is that visceral impulse I get when the light hits a scene just right. The little spike of excitement I get when everything I’m looking at feels balanced and ready for me to make an exposure.
We can talk about a “charm” in your photos that also allows for “natural flaws” that come with life Do you edit your photos?
That’s interesting. Charm. I had never heard that word to describe my work before. very refreshing. Thank you! But yeah, I absolutely edit my photos. Mainly edits based on colors, contrast, whites/blacks, shadows, etc. However, there is no photoshop or removal of anything in the post. I try to get as close as possible to what I originally saw, but only a slightly better version.
“waiting for the right moment” have a different meaning for analog photography compared to digital?
I want to say yes and no. One can “wait for the right moment” with digital absolutely; but for the most part you have copious amounts of space on your SD cards, so that momentum may wear off. That is what it seemed to me personally when photographing digitally. With film we only have those 36 selected frames. Every click of that shutter is costing us money. I also try not to think about it too much, but I try to trust my gut when those moments come up, and not think “Wait! How many frames do I have left on this roll? Is this worth my 36 marks?” I feel like I’ve missed too many moments when I thought that way.
What is your goal in photography and what do you expect from the new M6?
This is something that I feel has changed over the years and as I enter different stages of life. But the pulse remains the same, to photograph life as I live it. Taking photos gives me a lot of joy. The simple act of hearing the shutter click and moving that film forward. I want others to feel that. I hope my work can awaken some sense of belonging in the viewer or trigger a note of nostalgia. Even if it’s just for a moment. What do I expect? I hope and hope that we will see an increase in new film photographers. There are so many talented photographers out there doing beautiful work. And I’d love to see what they can do with the new M6. Bringing back a movie classic in the digital age is a bold move. But I think it’s the right move.
Born in Flint, Michigan and raised in Florida,Joe Greerhe has been taking photographs since he moved to Spokane, Washington in 2010. Joe Greer’s sole purpose is to document life as he experiences it. That may be in the form of his commercial work with clients like Apple, adidas, Ralph Lauren, Cadillac and Mont Blanc; Or it may be in the form of portrait work of him collaborating with artists like Leon Bridges, Karlie Kloss, Greta Van Fleet. For Greer, photography has become his form of communication. Discover more about his photography in hiswebsiteandInstagram Page.
PostingThe magic of cinemafirst appeared inThe Leica Camera Blog.