Molly Steele: Intimate Reportage Photography On Film

Rugged landscapes and intimate portraits come together in the work of Los Angeles-based film photographer Molly Steele. Viewing her photos is to indulge in a series of beautiful moments filled with a sense of escapism, visceral energy and the excitement of adventure. You can almost feel the warmth of the sun and the dust in the air.

We caught up with Molly recently to find out more about her artistic ambitions and photographical process. She also shared some of her favorite photos from the last couple of years, mostly shot in various remote locations over the course of the pandemic.

© Molly Steele

We first became aware of your photography a few years ago when you were riding freight trains across the US. Do you still enjoy living dangerously? Has your approach to photography (or life?) changed much since then?

My approach to photography and life has more or less held over the years. I still ride trains, though it’s never been a point of focus for me as an artist, as it’s more of a personal pleasure of mine. Generally, I’d say I don’t enjoy danger, but instead am someone who acts in counter-phobic ways. When I’m drawn to something, the fears and obstacles seem worth pushing back against.

How do you describe your photography?

The word reportage best describes my work’s documentary style. The color palette tends toward warm thanks to the film stock I stick to and the environments in which I shoot. People have described the images as having an intimate feel that helps them feel a part of the frame.

© Molly Steele

What gear are you using these days?

A creature of habit, I still shoot on the same camera as I have from the beginning, my Nikon f3. In a recent strike of good fortune, I was gifted a Mamiya 645 that I’ll be integrating into my workflow more and more. Nearly all of my many cameras were gifted from friends who saw them fitting my needs and lifestyle, and they’ve all hit the nail on the head.

You’ve traveled a lot. Is there a particular place or landscape that inspires you and that you often find yourself wanting to return to?

Living in a state as beautiful and diverse as California, I’m spoiled with the many landscapes it has to offer across this vast state. That said, America lacks some of the age and aesthetic quality that I look for in architecture. I’m always looking for a place that reads as having its own story, something manmade being consumed by the earth as it ages.

© Molly Steele

How do you spend your time away from photography?

In the last several years, I’ve spent more time building friendships which I try to tend often. I’m also often along the coast in some capacity and recently have taken up freediving. In between it all, I’m somewhere with a book.

What advice would you give to any young photographers hoping to take a similar path to yours?

Photograph your friends, learn to process your own work, stay weird, make tactile objects, don’t get stuck in a routine.

Any exciting projects coming up that you’d like to tell us about?

While in a bit of a digital hiatus, I’m exploring the world of filmmaking. We’ll see where that goes.

Check out more of Molly Steele's wonderful work on her Instagram and website

written by alexgray on 2022-09-24 #people #adventure #california #road-trip #america #usa #documentary #reportage #nikon-f3 #molly-steele

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