It wasn’t too hard for us to get into the studio with Josh, if you’ve been hanging around our little space on the internet, you might have noticed he’s an integral part of the Duplex family. That’s why we were so excited to get to share a little bit more about the man behind the photos and his upcoming show, Portraits of Portland.
Duplex: Tell us about your project.
Josh Latham: This project showcases various locations around Portland with instant black and white film prints shot with a Polaroid 440 Land Camera and Fuji fp3000b film. Of course, that particular film had recently been discontinued, about two weeks after I decided to use this film for the project.
D: So did you stock up?
JL: I did stock up, I ran to Pro Photo Supply and stocked up, twice!
D: Does it feel like it adds value to the film?
JL: Yeah, I try to be conscious of not using more than I need and with the camera I’m using, there is no metering, so it’s a bit of guesswork. You set, point and snap and if the photo doesn’t turn out, you adjust accordingly and take another one. It’s a bit of trial and error until I get proper exposure settings. Then I can shoot for the subject matter and series of shots for the overall composition.
D: There are many opinions about what makes a good photo or a good image. When you are looking at an instant one, how do you decide if this is one to use or this one is garbage?
JL: For me it mainly comes down the exposure quality. I’m experimenting with the camera and the film, but then I’m ultimately judging it on the technical aspects, especially with this black and white film. Getting a exposure that I like, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not too under or too overexposed, but where I’m happy with it in terms of completing the overall composition.
D: You shoot in lot of analog formats, what draws you to that? Nostalgia?
JL: I think that is more experimental, I don’t have a digital versus analog preference but with the film I feel have more leverage. And for me I think it’s just more fun. With the Land Camera being limited in metering and control, I enjoy the trial and error process of it.
D: What is your favorite camera?
JL: I think this Polaroid Land Camera is high on the list but I don’t think I have a favorite one exactly. They each have their own qualities, but shooting with the Land Camera has an instant gratification, which I like. It’s a nice challenge knowing that I will not do any post editing work on, what I have is the end result.
D: How do you select the subject matter?
JL: For this project, the best way I’ve come up with so far to describe it is: portrait of a place. It involves people, but they aren’t necessarily the subjects, it’s the surrounding area as a larger scenario. Each one of the completed compositions are a series of the 3×4”prints put together in a grid format to show a larger picture.
D: How do you choose your locations?
JL: I wanted to showcase some of my favorite spots in Portland. Places that I like to visit because they are visually interesting and have become familiar or comfortable to me. I do a lot of exploring, often riding my bike around, finding locations for clients, or hiking with Jessica. The subject is important because I want to have a great image in the end but I think the driving force for a lot of my work is the process of finding these places and experimenting. That’s what I most enjoy, the exploratory aspect.
D: Is this how you usually shoot?
JL: It’s how I mostly shoot any non-commercial work, a lot of it by chance. I’ll be out and find something I have a connection to visually. And sometimes, having explored a place photographically, it does factor into the commercial work I do as well.
D: As you are doing both commercial (Pxlvue) and personal work, do you find the personal work goes against your client work just to see what happens?
JL: I find the two aspects often compliment each other. My personal work is often unintentional, but with this particular project I have to think about it a little more. There is a structure to it, but I’m also using that experience or random style work within those parameters. A lot of the experimental experience tends to aid with the commercial work to fulfill a client’s idea.
D: Tell us a little bit about your background in photography and how you got to where you are now.
JL: Photography for me is a means for me to experiment. When I was kid, I was really interested in photography, influenced by my grandfather who was a big family documentarian. He had stacks and stacks of albums and I really enjoyed going through these with him and learned more about photo collections. At that age it was really experimental, I would just take this 110 camera outside and see what I could do. In high school I worked at a photo lab and got to see the very technical side of photography, that was my first real job. It was a huge learning experience just to see how photographs come to life. It was a good technical learning experience because it gave me a fundamental understanding of what’s happening when I’m experimenting.
After high school I worked as a graphic designer and then I worked in the recording field for many years in Los Angeles. During that time I did take a lot of band photos, mostly as a hobbyist when friends asked or while on tour. I see a lot of parallels between the photography I’m doing and the audio engineering field. On a creative process level, trying things – I’ve got an idea and I’ve got a goal but I don’t know how that’s going to come out. Sometimes I’m more concerned about the process of taking the photo and don’t really care what the end result is going to be.
After moving to Portland in 2008 I decide to focus back on photography and shortly after I was freelancing as a post-production editor. And in 2011 I started Pxlvue.
Pxlvue is a post processing agency where we do digital post work for other studios and photographers. We shoot photographs and prepare them for a client as well edit other photographer’s work, so for them it’s an outsource option. Interactive and web development and studio workflow management are also services Pxlvue offers.
D: How would you generally classify yourself as a photographer; stylistically is there something you are more drawn to?
JL: I think I am more narrative based, a lot of my stuff is landscape or architecture, but I feel some kind of connection to it, and add a personal narrative. With that I try to illustrate a connection to the viewer while allowing the opportunity to find their own connection or story.
If you are interested in purchasing any prints, go here!