Featured Photophile, our recurring segment showcasing talented amateur photographers is back with more photo inspiration for you.
Today we’re spotlighting a shooter named Ethan Covey. His take on today’s social media climate, his perspective on what makes a great photograph, and his advice for new shooters is worth reading.
And when you’re done, visit his portfolio and Instagram linked at the bottom of the piece.
Hi there – please introduce yourself.
Thanks so much for including me in this series, James.
My name is Ethan Covey. I was born in Vermont and live in Brooklyn, NY.
When did you start shooting? What’s your favorite camera, and why do you love it? What type of film do you use, and why?
I first toyed with photography as a teen. My brother and I would borrow my parents’ Pentax K1000 and tool around taking random—and I’m sure rather shitty—photos. That got me hooked on the process, though. And on the camera. I remember when I got my first DSLR I hated it. I missed the simplicity of the K1000. While I kept shooting other cameras over the years, being reunited with that camera is what solidified my love of film photography.
As for favorite cameras, it depends a bit on what I’m shooting. But overall, I’d say my Yashica Mat 124G and Mamiya 645 1000s are my favorites. Both cameras have such a poetic and individual way of capturing light, and I love the possibilities afforded by medium format.
Although I’m working through a brick of Tri-X at the moment, my favorite black & white film stock is Ilford HP5. The blacks can be so inky and thick and I love the push/pulling flexibility. I guess the same can pretty much be said for Tri-X, though, so who knows. Maybe I just like the packaging better. And when shooting color I tend to reach for either Portra 400 or Ektar 100.
I’m constantly having this battle where one part of me is yearning for other types of film—new brands, new speeds, expired stuff—whereas the other side wants to stick with these favorites and work on perfecting my craft. I’m leaning a bit towards the latter at the moment, though I expect that will change with time.
What are your favorite subjects, and why?
I enjoy photographing moments people tend to miss.
Why do you shoot film? Do you also shoot digital? What do you think about the differences between film and digital?
I do shoot digital. The capabilities offered by digital cameras are incredible and sometimes they make the most sense, particularly when working with clients. However, I do prefer film. There is a magic with film that is very difficult to achieve in digital images. And I like that shooting film returns photography to a more tactile experience. Any effort to spend less time sitting at a computer is a win.
What is unique about your work?
Man, this is the type of question that can keep me up at night…
I aim for an honesty and a sense of the unguarded in my work—especially my portraiture. However, mostly what I’m most interested in, no matter the subject, is a certain quality of light. I take a lot of photographs of random objects—chairs, windowsills, shoes. To me, when the light is just so, a photograph of these objects can say more about a place and time than a formalized landscape.
I’m also at a point where I can feel my work changing. It’s an exciting time—I can sense this shift taking place, yet don’t fully understand yet where it’s leading. The progression reveals itself in glimpses and I do my best to assemble the fragments.
How do you achieve your results?
A blend of patience and improvisation. The patience is in waiting until something strikes me as being worth capturing; and with improvisation comes the joy of occasionally abandoning all preconceived sense of plan.
Where do you hope your photography goes from here?
With photography there is always so much to learn and I want my ache for this knowledge to remain sharp. I’d like to reacquaint myself with the darkroom, get comfortable printing and begin processing color film. In general I like the idea of making more prints—whether with the aim of selling them or not. It ties in to my whole thing of wanting my images to exist as more than a collection of pixels.
Do you have any advice for new photographers?
Shoot what intrigues you and shoot it as you see it.
Thanks to the internet and social media it’s never been easier to connect with likeminded creatives. But it can be incredibly difficult feeling that your work is constantly being critiqued. Try not to worry about followers and likes; focus instead on rendering the world in a way that reflects your vision.
Many thanks to Ethan for sharing his work here. If you’d like to have your photos featured on Casual Photophile, tag your photos with #featuredphotophile on any social media post, or send a message to Contact@FStopCameras.com.
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