Featured Photophile No. 016 – Miguel Mercado

Featured Photophile No. 016 – Miguel Mercado

1280 861 James Tocchio

Featured Photophile, our recurring series showcasing talented photographers, is back with more photo inspiration for you. Today’s FP features Miguel Mercado. We’re proud to have been one of the sites that helped Miguel connect with some amazing film cameras, and here he tells us about his journey as a relatively new shooter.

Take a look at his wonderful street shots, and let us (and Miguel) know what you think in the comments.

Hi there – please introduce yourself.

Hello, my name is Miguel Mercado. I am 31 years old, originally from Puerto Rico, I now live in San Diego, California. It is a privilege to be featured here on Casual Photophile. Thank you for the opportunity.

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? 

What makes this opportunity so meaningful to me is that I am being featured by the people AND website that started it all back in June, 2017. As you might’ve imagined, being that CP has been the source for it all since the beginning, it was only natural for me to source out a Minolta. That Minolta happened to be an SRT202 based on an article here on the website. This was a decision I’d never regret.

Though I LOVE my Minolta CLE, if I have to pick my favorite camera I’d have to say my go-to for the last couple of months has been a Voigtlander Bessa R3M (sorry James!). Its a very rudimentary camera according to most because there is absolutely nothing special to it. For a relatively modern camera it is loud, heavy, cant turn on/off the light meter which will kill your battery rather fast, and its framelines are not automated when swapping lenses (they are controlled by a small lever). And while all of this may be true, where this beautiful camera shines is in its huge, bright, 1:1 viewfinder. This right here has been key. The fact that I am able to compose and frame my shots without even having to bring the camera to my eye makes things a lot easier, especially when I am shooting on the streets where things tend to happen in fractions of seconds. Want to shoot with both eyes open? The R3M will let you.

My favorite films are Ilford HP5 and EASTMAN 5222. Need I need to say more? Both films have been profiled on CP so I am sure if anyone is interested to hear why I shoot strictly these two they can refer themselves these articles. What keeps me shooting these two? Ilford HP because “It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s this gritty character that helps it succeed,” and EASTMAN “delivers a truly vintage black-and-white look, one we’ve come to associate with the old masters of photography.”

What are your favorite subjects, and why?

People. Everyone has a story to tell. Being given the opportunity to record a passing moment of their lives is an amazing experience.

Why do you shoot film? Do you also shoot digital? What do you think about the differences between film and digital?

I shoot film because there is a process to it and you can’t escape it. In today’s day and age, instant gratification has become the norm. I’ve fallen victim to this as well in other aspects of life and it is something I strive to get away from. When I am out shooting I can concentrate on my subject, what it is that I am after, what I am trying to portray to my viewers. I am sure some may disagree with me on this because you can certainly do the same with a digital camera, and while this may be true, the temptation is there and perhaps too much for some to give in to their LCD screens.

Differences between digital and film? In my opinion digital is too perfect, film isn’t and nor are the streets or life. Film seems to be the appropriate medium to document it as it happens.

What is unique about your work?

Truthfully, I don’t know how to answer this question. I get messages from all over the world, people I’ve never met and probably will never meet telling me how my work has either moved, inspired, or pushed them to try something new. This is amazing. Far beyond anything I thought I’d accomplish so soon considering I have just started and there is a lot I have yet to learn. One thing I will mention is I refuse to crop or edit my photos in any way. Perhaps this is something that sets me apart.

How do you achieve your results?

“F8 and forget.” I kid, though I do shoot a lot on F8! I try my best to keep my efforts honest. I stay away from post processing my images. Like I mentioned before, I don’t even crop my shots. If I mess it up then lessons were learned. It makes me stay honest and focus on what I am about to do. I think of it as removing a crutch, something that will have my back if it doesn’t come out as expected. And frankly, I think it adds character to the subjects I tend to shoot.

Where do you hope your photography goes from here?

Quite frankly I feel it has surpassed my expectations to date. If you were to ask me seven months ago if I ever thought I’d be answering these questions for a feature and sharing my work with whomever may stumble upon this write up I’d say that’s crazy talk. I am just a guy with a camera on the streets. But we will see. I’m planning on putting out a couple of ‘zines and small projects and seeing where they lead. Wherever that may be I am certain it’s going to be an amazing journey!

Do you have any advice for new photographers?

Being a new photographer myself there are a few things I can give advice on.

  • Shoot whatever you want with whatever you want.
  • Don’t give in to G.A.S. More gear won’t make better images.
  • Go about things how you see them. Share your own perspective of whatever topic you choose.
  • Embrace whatever feedback is given to you and learn from it.
  • Take your camera everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE, you’d be surprised of the amount of shots you’ll take when you least expect it.
  • Shoot every day if possible.
  • Have fun!

Where can people see more of your images?

Currently the only platform I am using is Instagram. Feel free to contact me any time! And again, thank you for the opportunity!

Many thanks to Miguel for sharing his work with us. If you’d like to have your photos featured on CP, tag your photos with #featuredphotophile on any social media post, or send a message to contact@fstopcameras.com

Are you itching for a new film camera?

Find one at our own F Stop Cameras

Find one on eBay

Find one at B&H Photo

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio
  • Great work! I appreciate your discipline around the process as well. It’s easy to cut corners and fake thing nowadays, but working within the constraints of the medium is true art. Well done!

  • I love the featured photophile segment here on the site, but I also hate it because it makes me realize how bad I am at photography! 😉 Great shots Miguel. Thanks for sharing them.

  • Valuable advice, G.A.S is bad, must not give-in!!…. and this website is not helping 😉 I really like the contrast-y nature of the above shots, it’s what I feel black & white film is made for.

  • Very good photos and a very good rationale for shooting film in our chaotic age!

    Thank you

  • There is an anti-dote to GAS, it’s called minimalism. My sister in law came to lunch yesterday and happened to ask me how many cameras I owned? I could not tell her. Later, I had a count up – 22!! This includes 11 Leicas, Hasselblad 500cm, Rolleicord IV, Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 520/2 (a present). Something to leave my step grandson of course along with a few watches. I love old technology – cameras, typewriters, wirelesses, pens, inkpots, telephones etc etc. Some years ago, I put together a minimalist kit for travel: a pair of Leica MDa bodies, a 3.5cm F3.5 Summaron lens, a SBLOO 3.5cm viewfinder and a Sixtomat digital light meter (1AA battery). In use, when my film runs out, I swap lens and finder with the body cap on the spare body. Both bodies have straps. Later, in a cafe or a pub, I rewind the film and reload. I like Ilford XP2. I use the Billingham for Leica Combination bag M. There is room for my gear and a zip pocket on the front for a Filofax for notes etc.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio