Would you mind introducing yourself? Hey! My name is Michael (@themichaelstrand on Instagram), I’m a photographer currently living in Los Angeles. I’m originally from a small town in Colorado. When I was 18 I moved to northern California where I met my wife Miriam, and lived for about four years. After that, we moved to Portland, OR for a little over a year, and then recently we relocated down to LA.
How would you describe your style of photography? I feel like my style is always evolving slightly. I do know I love the process of shooting analog, but as for the subject matter, that will probably continue to change as I get older. Since I’ve picked up photography, I’ve started to experience the world in a completely new way. I love to show normal, everyday scenes in a way that most people wouldn’t normally see them because I think there can be a lot of beauty in these moments.
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? It didn’t happen at once, my passion for photography grew slowly. I first got interested in taking photos about 4 years ago, on an old iPhone. I’d take photos during breaks at work, or go for a drive during a storm, and just got really curious about exploring the world around me. After a while, I got my first digital camera, which helped me understand exposure and other technical aspects of photography. Then, about a year ago I got into film, which I think is when I really fell in love with photography.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? I think the time I spent photographing LA the first time I visited, and then seeing the scans a few days later is one of my favourite memories so far. I felt like I had finally figured some things out on that trip and was able to achieve the look I had envisioned in my head when I took the photos.
Who/What inspires your photography? A lot of things… of course, other photographers inspire me, but I also take a lot of inspiration from music, people, travelling, other art mediums like drawing and painting, and even fashion and clothing. Depending on what I’m going through in life, certain things stand out to me more than others. I think it’s very important to let what you’re going through and feeling emotionally come through In a photo. It’s the same in music or anything artistic I guess. Art is personal, and I think It should reflect what you’re feeling when you make it.
What kind of camera do you use? I usually carry around my Canon SLR and/or my Olympus pocket rangefinder. I find that having 35mm and 50mm focal lengths give me enough flexibility, without giving me too many options. That will certainly change, as I like to try new things and experiment with different stuff, but for now, that’s my everyday carry. I also shoot with a medium format camera, but I’m still in the process of finding one that works well for me. I also have a Canon DSLR, which I use for paid work.
What's your editing process like? A big part of my journey since I’ve started shooting film has been figuring out how and where to get it processed. I realized the hard way that it’s worth the extra cost of using a good lab get results I’m happy with. Now that I have a good workflow and a lab that that knows what I need from my photos, I usually do very little after I receive my scans. If anything, I’ll adjust the tone curve a little in Lightroom. When It comes to my digital photography, I use Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop. For mobile I use VSCO.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? I think as you’re developing your own style, it’s important to focus on making art that is meaningful to you, and don’t worry about what other people or social media says is good. Also, everyone says it and I’ve found it to be true—shoot a lot. You’ll get better, and find out quicker what it is you like to shoot. As for making photos similar to mine, my process is pretty simple. I use film, get it developed at a good lab, and try not to over edit. The characteristics and colours are present in the film stock so if you use good light, techniques, and expose properly they will generally come out nicely :)
Who are some of your favourite photographers? I feel like I’m constantly finding new people to learn from, both present-day photographers and greats from the past. Some current photographers who have influenced me a lot are Michael Spear (@michaeljspear), Johny Patience (@johnnypatience), Robert Strickland (@rlstrickland), and Joe Greer (@ioegreer), to name just a few.
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? I would say that depends on where I am. I really enjoy all the seasons for their different looks, but I don’t like intense heat or cold. When I lived in the northwest, the spring and fall were really gorgeous with all the trees and flowers. Where I live now, it’s pretty much summer year round.
The coolest place you've ever been? I’ll always be a huge fan of California, even though I live here. It has so many things I love to photograph. I don’t feel like I’ve travelled a whole ton yet, but so far I’d probably say London or Paris were my favourites. Prague was really awesome too. So much to do and see in these cities, I definitely need to go back again soon.
Do you have any upcoming photography trips/sessions that you would like to share? I’m taking a road trip up the California coast this spring which I’m excited about! I’m also planning to go to Poland this December to visit family, so hopefully, I’ll get to explore some more places around Europe while I’m over there. Other than that I plan on exploring LA and the surrounding areas, which will definitely keep me busy!
Anything extra you would like to share? Thanks to the Hippo Magazine team for having me! I also have a website with some of my work, and I’ll be posting to my online journal periodically about photography, travels, and other stuff that I’m into. www.themichaelstrand.com