Marc Gregory, aka @JMARCUSG, is an American Lomographer with a penchant for close up still life photography.
We recently stumbled upon his still life shots of flowers and were blown away by the compositions of the images as well as the beautiful textures created using Lomography Color Negative 800, LomoChrome Metropolis 400, Berlin Kino B&W 400 and Potsdam Kino B&W 100. His images hit a sweet spot somewhere between professional artistry and playful experimentation, and perhaps it’s this combination that makes them so arresting.
Naturally we couldn’t resist getting in touch with him to find out more about his photographic history and how he created these magnificent shots.
How did you get started in film photography?
I got started in high school. This was during the mid 70s so film was it. A close friend was into photography so together we served as student photographers on our schools' year book. We primarily took candid shots of our classmates throughout the school year. We had just moved into a brand new high school so the darkroom was well stocked with new equipment and all the materials one would need for developing film and creating prints.
Who or what inspired you?
My father was a part time portrait and event photographer and had his darkroom in our family basement. His interest along with my photography friends from school supplied the spark.
You mentioned that photography is a rekindled passion of yours. Why did you stop? And what made you decide to go back to taking photos?
Once I started college I didn't have the time to pursue photography seriously. For a few years after college I got back into taking pictures when I started dating my future wife. She had a love for photo journalism so together we purchased two Nikons FE2 film cameras but once we started our family, time for serious, personal photography had to take a back seat.
It wasn't until the summer of 2019 that I was able to fully commit the time and effort to pursue my photography seriously. Instead of buying all new kit, I borrowed a Nikon D700 DSLR from a close friend who was a professional photographer, purchased a 105 mm Nikkor Macro lens and began taking close-up photographs of flowers around our neighborhood and started creating and shooting still lifes in our home. Once the pandemic hit taking photos close to home and inside became the only viable options.
Youtube videos and podcasts soon became a great source of information and inspiration. Not only did they help me gain knowledge operating my DSLR and improve my technique shooting close-ups and still lifes they also re-introduced me to the world of film photography. Years before, I had inherited a Yashica-MAT 124 TLR from my uncle. It had sat unused in storage but now with film labs and digital scanning services readily available I decided to jump back into film. I started with the classic Kodak and Ilford film stocks but then heard about Lomography on the Analog Talk podcast when they interviewed Birgit Burchart from Lomography. I ordered and shot a roll of Potsdam Kino 100 and Berlin Kino 400 on my Yashica and then shot some rolls of Lomography Color Negative 800, Berlin Kino 400 and LomoChrome Metropolis on my Nikon FE2 and loved the results.
What do you like taking photos of?
My tastes are varied. In addition to close-ups and still life I enjoy taking traditional landscapes, architecture and street photography.
Is there any detail that you look for when choosing your subject?
For the close-up and still life images I make at home I try to light my subjects in ways that expose texture, detail, and drama that are not readily visible under normal conditions. There is something almost magical when you really get up close to a subject and it reveals its secrets. It's all about discovery.
Do you mind sharing some tips on shooting still life photographs?
Keep it simple to start. I primarily use a dedicated macro lens but I also use less expensive extension tubes which can yield excellent results. I also use close-up lens kits for my Yashica when needed for tight subjects. For lighting I purchased a relatively inexpensive photo light box that is commonly used for product photography. They typically come with different colored back drops, don't take up much space and can be folded for easy storage and transport. An even simpler setup that I use now is a folding card table, a large piece of black or white muslin fabric to hang behind the table as a back drop and a couple of small LED light panels on small tripods to light my subjects. If you can position your table in a location that receives sufficient natural light all the better.
What does film photography mean to you?
For someone "raised" on film I can't deny there is a certain nostalgia I experience when taking pictures. But more importantly it provides me creative options and new ways of experiencing the photographic process. There is an excitement when using a film stock for the first time, not knowing how the images will turn out and the anticipation of waiting for them to be developed and the scans to arrive.
What are your interests aside from photography?
I enjoy Films, TV, Music and Books. My film tastes are quite broad. I've been a huge fan of Anime for many years, especially the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii. There is so much content on streaming platforms it's hard to decide what to watch. Some musical favorites I've been enjoying are Lyle Lovett, Nils Frahm, Phoebe Bridgers, and Billie Eilish. And of course photo books! A significant number of new titles have been published during the pandemic, from established and new (to me) photographers. I've added titles by Michael Kenna, Toshio Shibata, Cig Harvey, Sarah Hadley & Susan Burnstine to my collection.
We'd like to thank Marc for sharing his story and insights with us. Visit him at his LomoHome @JMARCUSG to see more of his photography. Interested in trying out some Lomography film yourselves? Head over to our Online Store.