Oh Yeah (:fistbump)! I am so excited that Jonathan Canlas is in da house today!! He is one "Supah Star" (cue Molly Shannon in Superstar! ) of film photography! I first met Jon at The FIND Workshop Austin. I must give him the props for running the one of the best workshops I have ever attended, you can see my review of the workshop here and here on my website. If you don't know who Jon Canlas is, you are missing out! He co-wrote the best selling book, The Film Is Not Dead, and was nominated by Martha Stewart Weddings as one of the top photographers. Need I say more? Let's get to know more about Jon, shall we? Joyce : How did you started in photography? Jonathan Canlas: If you google, or poke around on the internet, you'll find out I got introduced to photography while living in Japan as Mormon missionary in Tokyo. But what really solidified it was a random study abroad program to London. At the time I was double majoring in Japanese and Asian studies. It made no sense to go to London as it was an Art, Sociology, and English program, but they needed 6 guys or they'd cancel the guys who had signed up. One of them being my roommate at the time who was a painting major. So, with the enticement of 6 dudes and 45 girls, I signed up :). During the 4 months I was there I shot 300 rolls of 35mm film but more importantly saw a Chuck Close exhibit that literally pushed me over the edge. I had never seen anything like it before. I fell in love with his drawing of a rendition of a self portrait of him smoking shot on a Pentax 67. I bought a print of it and it hangs in theFINDlab to this date. I did not have enough money to even develop the 300 rolls I shot, but from that portfolio I applied for the BFA (while still doing the other 2 majors) and I got in so I finished college with three degrees. 7.5 years of college, 260+ credits, and doctor of nothing :).
Joyce: Has Photography changed your perspective on life in genera? Do you find more appreciation for the little things because of photography?
JC: Um, hell yes. I can not not take photos. You know how people have FOMO (fear of missing out)? I have the same thing but it is FOMTS (fear of missing the shot). I think this all comes from the feeling of trying to keep everything I have without being that gross dude on hoarders. I am pretty minimal in my possessions but damn if I'm not a hoader when it comes to photos. The camera is with me always even when we just go grocery shopping. Does it make me appreciate the little things? Hardly, but it does make me appreciate the fact that I and my family are going to have photos of the "little things" of our life. My kids are pretty young so once this body of work is complete and they are out of the house, might just be the best body of work I'll ever produce.
Joyce: Looking through your online portfolio of both client and personal work, your personality and presence are strongly felt in every single image. It's obvious that voice and vision go hand-in-hand. For some people, this is something that they must work really hard at when you make it look so effortless. When, in your photography journey, do you feel you have a strong voice in expressing your vision in each photograph?
JC: Ha, it is NOT effortless. You have to realize I've been doing this since 1999. And if you look at my blog, I shoot more personal work than paid work. This voice I've found came from putting in hours and hours and burning through rolls and rolls of film. It did not just happen. It takes time, and I'm still working on it. Want to find your voice and turn that volume to 11? Get off your duff, like stop reading this right now, and unplug from fb and go shoot!
Joyce: Continuation of my last question here: What is(are) your advice(s) for those who are trying to find that connection between vision and voice?
JC: That really requires a lot of self evaluation. Like literally sitting down for a FULL DAY with a pen and a pad and a shiz ton of things that are not photography that inspire you. Music, movies, art, you name it and then figuring out some personal projects you want to work on. And then analyzing said projects with what you are wanting to say. Because saying, oh, I want to shoot my family, is not enough. You want to shoot your family? Cool so does everyone else and their dog, but what are YOU trying to say by doing this that is uniquely YOU and more importantly, what you are trying to say, is it visually being communicated SUCCESSFULLY to the viewer. I think the problem with the mentality a lot of us are guilty of having because we live in 2014 (GIVE ME EVERYTHING NOW AND I MEAN RIGHT NOW) is that we are not slowing down and thinking things out. It takes work far beyond just going out and clicking some shutter you know? Sit down, make a game plan, and after you've gone out and shoot it, don't be satisfied with the results. You are no Avedon or Maier and you'll probably, like me, have to go back dozens of times to make it right.
Joyce: With the availability of social media, do you think photography has been "dumb down"? Has social media influence the way people value the photography profession?
JC: YES. Especially with the digital image, there is no "correct" anything anymore. Want piss yellow skies, a client might think, AMAZING now, and then absolutely regret said great idea 5 years, hell even tomorrow. Anyone can become a photographer, and a decent proficient one. Which is AWESOME because it is upping the game. The one thing that will set peeps apart, are clear vision and voice.
Joyce: I love the way you approach your children/family sessions during FIND Workshop. You always seem to put the most nervous subjects at ease. What advice(s) you can give to photographers who might be a bit "timid" at first at approaching a new client?
JC: Go grab your camera and head into town and for a half day just go out and photograph strangers. You'll get nervous at first but after a couple yes' your confidence goes through the roof and it now becomes one of the funnest activities you've done with your camera in ages. Practice makes perfect!
Joyce: What is the one biggest mistake people often make when they first started out shooting film?
JC: UNDEREXPOSING THEIR FILM and using Portra 800 indoors as a low light color film.
Joyce: If you have one advice you can give to those who are just starting out on film photography, what would it be and why?
JC: Don't be intimidated. If you knew how easy it really was, you'd be out there daily!
Joyce: If you can spend one day with one person (present or past), who will it be and what would you talk about?
JC: My dad and just life. I've almost not had him as long as I had him...but I actually consider not having him longer as a lot of those years I was not around.
Joyce: What is your favorite film stock and camera, and why? Is it different for client and personal work, why?
JC: Man this is a tough question as I go through so many what I call "film/camera frenzies" that like that pop song on the radio seem to fade with time. But my favorite color film is Portra 160 for the color. For client work, my favorite camera is the Contax for the look. For my personal work, I'd really never shoot P160. I love Fuji Acros and my Rollei OR Kodak E100VS and my Nikonos. I almost never shoot the Contax for personal work. It just makes everything feel like work. I also use my Mamiya RZ with the 110 2.8 lens and whatever expired color neg I have which is usually Kodak 400UC or 160VC.
Joyce: What is one photography accessory/gear (other than camera and lens) you can’t do without?
JC: Thinktank bags.
Joyce: Tell me about The FIND Workshop. I know this is your last year traveling for it, any future plans?
JC: FIND is coming to an end and that end is in Dec in Perth Australia. Callie will be coming with me to that one to cook which is going to be nothing short of incredible. I have a 2 day FIND in Mexico in Jan for Mexico residents only (priced accordingly as well - $550 for 2 days). I've got a couple speaking/presenting things going on in Feb at BodaF in Spain and then at Canada Photo Convention in April in Vancouver. 2015 will be the year I spend a lot more time with my family, shoot a lot more on Oahu, and travel quite a bit less. FIND may be ending, but I have 3-4 things up my sleeve that will be coming out soon :). I'm not one to just walk away...
Who is(are) on your playlist right now? Here we go Magic. And as much as I don't want to admit it I effing love that new Taylor Swift song "Shake it Off". Callie and I have used it at least a half dozen times in parenting our girls :). Complete this sentence: “I wish my kids would hurry up and go to sleep so I can watch…” Oh man, i don't know. ray donovan? i'm waiting for all the new seasons to start up. walking dead, boardwalk empire, homeland... A quote you live by: In the words of my friend Amelia Johnson "get paid or get played" Where is the most exotic place you have ever been? Where i live, Hauula, HI :). The first item on your bucket list? Go back to japan to photograph the living crap out of it, eat amazing ramen, and meet jiro of jiro dreams of sushi and make his portrait. Your favorite hobby(ies) besides photography: Playing with my kids and having dance parties as we clean up after dinner. Beer or Wine? Neither. I don't drink alcohol. i'm already wired and crazy enough, I can't imagine adding that into my life :) Flip flops or sneakers? Slippahs or no shoes at all. Airplane, train or automobile? Delta all the way. im so close to being diamond it is not even funny. Two truth and a lie in random order, go! I'm color blind. I can't see for crap at night and am supposed to wear glasses, but don't. I have perfect vision :).
You can follow Jonathan Canlas to see his work and his new projects:
Blog Contributor and Writer: Joyce Kang
Joyce Kang is a children & family photographer in Austin Texas. She is also a mentor and an instructor for Embrace The Grain, an intro to film photography workshop. She is married to her best friend and enjoys outdoors with her family. She loves to curl up with a good book and has a terrible addiction to any thing that tops with a heaping scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate fudge!