Mike Padua is a long time lover of film photography. He branched that love out to start ShootFilmCo. an online website that sells analog photography related merch. Since the launch, he's been exploring various film types and cameras to include to his massive collection. We sent Mike the Sprocket Rocket along with a couple of rolls of our Lomography Film to try out. He chat with us about his experience with the camera and origins of his love for analog.
Mike, welcome to the magazine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me, as a longtime fan of Lomography it's a real honor! First and most importantly, I'm a husband and father. I have a love for photography which blossomed into a profession when I started shooting production stills on movie sets, and promotional galleries for theatrical companies, and then finally leading to my own photography studio in 2013.
What made you get into photography in the first place?
I am by nature a very sentimental person. As a kid I'd be the first one to crack open the envelop of prints whenever my parents got pictures back from the local grocery store lab. I love looking at memories and moments again and again and holding onto them. This led to an interest in drawing and design, and then as a teenager I found out you could merge all of those things with a camera in your hands.
You tend to collect a lot of film cameras, any favorites?
Yes I do tent to "collect" film cameras. One might also use the word "hoard," but then again I do give a lot of them away so I could safely stay away from that word! it's hard to pick a favorite. If I had to pick one I'd never get rid of, It's my Leica M6 TTL. I love rangefinders that are completely manual and it's just everything I want in one package. Another favorite that gets a lot of use nowadays is the Canon Sure Shot M (aka the Prima Mini, aka the Autoboy F). It's tiny, it's cheap, it's completely automatic and produces great photos. It's my "fun camera." Yet another camera that is tied for first is a 126 camera shaped like Charlie the Tuna that my friend and graphic designer Eric Keskeys rescued from the depths of a flea market junk pile. Apparently StarKist tuna sent these out as promotional items back in the Seventies.
What subjects do you like? What do you look for when you go out and photograph?
My favorite subjects are my family and my location--wherever that happens to be. My two young kids are growing fast and having a document of their lives is critical to me. Even looking at photos from a month ago seems like a lifetime ago with how fast life moves for me as a person trying to make a living while also trying to be the best husband and parent I can.
What attracts you to film photography?
I'm attracted to film photography because of its tactile nature. Many people say that the end result-the photograph-is all that ultimately matters, but I don't find that to be the case when I'm talking about my personal experience. The act of being present in a moment and how I capture that moment--and what I use to capture that moment--all of that matters to me. I highly enjoy the process all the way through to the final product.
Why do you think there's this resurgence surrounding film photography and analog media?
I think there's a resurgence with film photography and analog media because we've been steered to things that are digital and non-tangible very aggressively for a very long time. Yes, I saw the appeal and jumped on the bandwagon when I could put every album I own on something the size of a deck of cards, and yes I saw the allure in taking as many photographs as I wanted without limitation on a small card or even on my phone. But we're human and our sense of touch is as important to our existence as any of our other senses. Loading a roll of film, seeing a negative, feeling a print or book in your hands and taking in the image with your eyes is an experience that people are coming back to--and in many cases, discovering for the first time.
How'd you enjoy working with the Sprocket Rocket?
The Sprocket Rocket was such a unique camera and out of my comfort zone, which made it so fun. The angle of view, the width of the frame were all things I was not accustomed to and it made composition and how I think about a shot pretty unfamiliar. I love it's simple nature with just a touch of focus and exposure control. I mostly love that it is a true panorama photo, and uses so much of the negative.
What about the Lomo Film?
I definitely need some more Lomo film! I've never shot the 800 before and I didn't know how it would react and what the shadows would look like but the results ended up being very unique and a lot of fun.
If you had to bring one camera and one type of film with you for the rest of your life, what would it be?
One camera and one film? That's a real challenge. If I HAD to choose, I would probably choose a Pentax K1000 and Kodak Ultramax (I always advocate the "cheap" stuff, since I grew up with it!)
You have almost a cult-like following of people from your shop Shoot Film Co. can you speak about how that idea came about and the response you've received from that?
ShootFilmCo came about as an idea for one embroidered patch design that I wanted to share with a few friends. It cost just as much to make 25 patches as it did 6 patches, so I went ahead and bought 25 to give away. Soon enough more people started asking for them, so I had another run done and each time I come up with a design, I just keep putting them out, and I have new ideas for new accessories all the time. The list of things I want to make is currently unrealistically long. It's as much an outlet for my design background as it is my love for film photography. The response has been beyond anything I had ever imagined. The best part about all of it is that I am now connected with more lovers of film and analog that I even thought possible. Seeing the work that people create keeps me inspired, entertained, and educated and it just pushes me to keep going, and I'm happy to consider all these people my friends.
What advice can you give to our Lomo readers?
You always have to make the time for what you' love. You'll never find time, so make sure to fill your soul doing what you love and what inspires you. When you get burnt out on things, that's just your brain letting you know that you need a break, so take those breaks to assess what is important to you and what inspires you.