Interview
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Interview: Jason Hunter

“I like the tactile feeling of shooting with film cameras. Whether that’s the clamshell on the XA, or advancing the film and cocking the shutter on the RB67. This is something that can not be found with digital cameras.”

Jason is a film and digital photographer who co-operates Restore From Backup, a film photography specific hub account on Instagram. Jason first reached out to me out of the blue and started off by saying we had a common circle of photographer friends and he couldn’t have been nicer. Since then, his work has inspired me to see buildings and cars in different ways than before.

JM – Tell me a bit about yourself.

JH – I’m from Chesapeake, VA, a pretty dull little suburb between Norfolk and Virginia Beach. I’ve lived here for the majority of my life and have no plans on leaving. I’ve been married for ten years, and we have three cats and no kids. My life is pretty quiet, and that’s exactly how I like it. Also, I really love Math Rock and coffee. 

JM – Why do you shoot film?

JH – First and foremost, it’s the community. I’ve been photographing things for a good while now; however, I never really got into it until I started shooting film. Also, I love mechanical things. I like the tactile feeling of shooting with film cameras. Whether that’s the clamshell on the XA, or advancing the film and cocking the shutter on the RB67. This is something that can not be found with digital cameras. Although, I wish they made a digital TLR!

JM – How would you describe your style?

JH – I’m not sure I have one, or I don’t know what to call it if I do. Honestly, that’s not a concern of mine. I like taking pictures of things that catch my eye. To some, that might seem counterproductive; however, I feel like it really helps me. I don’t ever want this to feel like work or feel like I have to shoot a certain way. I’m just having fun, and that’s what is essential.

JM – What is your favorite film? Camera?

JH – My favorite film by far is Portra at any speed, but I prefer 400. As far as my favorite camera, that changes depending on which day you ask me. I’m a firm believer that the Olympus XA2 is a perfect camera. However, my Rolleiflex 2.8C is quickly becoming my favorite camera. It’s an absolute gem of a camera.  

JM – Is there a camera you’ve really wanted but don’t think you’ll ever have? Why do you think you won’t ever own it?

JH – I really want a Leica M6, but I don’t think I’ll ever own one. That’s because I’m not too fond of rangefinders. I’ve tried with a couple and can’t get into them. Partly, I think it’s because I have a hard time focusing with them. I know they are nice, but they’re not for me.

JM –  Is there a camera you thought you’d never part with but ultimately did? Why did you part with it?

JH – My Olympus OM-4, I loved that camera mainly because I used to be a huge Olympus fanboy. I even sold my Canon 5D mk3 for an Olympus Micro 4/3 kit because I was an idiot. I sold my Olympus OM-4 when I switched to Nikon, but I really should have kept it. 

JM – What drives you to photograph?

JH – The need to get out of the house drives me to photograph.  Also, I need to create something or be working on something, and photography helps me with that. I’d be a lier if I said it wasn’t for attention as well, or I wouldn’t share my stuff on social media. However, I think that’s a good thing, in some regards, because it forces us to get out there and make new and better photographs. 

JM – What is a personal goal you have for your photography? 

JH – I want to make a book. I’ve never made a zine until this year, and know I’m hooked. Looking at them now, I already feel like I can do better, so I want to focus on making something special.

 

JM – What do you look for in a photograph? Is what you find compelling in a photograph different when it’s one of your photographs compared with one from someone else?

JH – I like lines and sharp edges. That’s what typically catches my eye first, so the vast majority of my stuff has some form of sharp lines or corners. However, this typically differs from what I like in other’s works. I like looking at other’s photographs for other forms of influence. Taking elements from them and trying to do it in my way. I love those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments. 

JM – What is your favorite shot you’ve ever taken? What’s the story behind it?

JH – My favorite shot I’ve taken varies from week to week, but recently it was a photograph of an Auto Zone. I went in there to grab some windshield wipers. Walking out, I noticed the clouds with that sharp corner of the building, so I snapped a photo with the RB67. I didn’t overthink about it really, but when I saw the picture, later on, I thought this is pretty cool, mainly because it’s an Auto Zone. When I put it on Reddit and Instagram, it blew up, which is cool because other people saw what I saw in an ordinary Auto Zone. 

JM – In what ways has your photography grown and improved since you started shooting film?

JH – Well, for starters, I’m not shooting everything at f/1.8 or making everything HDR. In the beginning, I thought things had to be complicated or out of the ordinary to be interesting. I hated where I lived because I thought there was nothing to photograph. Now, I’m pretty happy, just being happy with want I got. 

JM – How often do you shoot with your digital camera?

JH – I shoot with my Fuji X-T4 just about every day. It’s always with me. I’ve started trying photos out with the Fuji and then coming back another day with a film camera. Honestly, I could see myself shooting digital a lot more in the future, and only shooting film a couple of times a year. I think it’s important to practice and know a camera, but it’s also essential to keep things fresh. So, for now, I’ll keep mixing it up.

You can see more Jason’s work below.

 

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