The Documentary and Street Photography of Jacint – Featured Photophile No. 021

The Documentary and Street Photography of Jacint – Featured Photophile No. 021

2560 1440 Miguel Mercado

Today’s Featured Photophile is a person called Jacint, who some of you may know from Instagram. I’ve enjoyed Jacint’s photography for a long time, and to be honest I thought he was a professional shooter. But he’s not. What he is, is a talented photographer with a good eye who spends a lot of time working on his craft. This is encouraging to me. And it may be encouraging to you as well.

In this article, Jacint tells us about his past in photography, where this path has brought him, and how he achieves some of his best photos.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Jacint. I work in IT specializing in data/storage, and for the most part I’m traveling for a living.

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’m not the “I started to take pictures when I was a kid and my parents gave me a camera” type of guy. When my wife and I went for our first vacation we wanted to buy a camera. I had no idea about photography at all, so I just bought the same thing that the marketing department at the factory I worked used. Should be okay, I thought. So we got this camera and I’ve been shooting it for about fifteen years, I took roughly 20,000 pictures with it. We have three kids, and I shot their births, Christmases, birthdays, family events, all of it without having any idea about aperture, shutter speed, whatever. When that camera died on me on Christmas eve of 2014, I decided to buy a serious camera and read the manual.

This started the whole thing. I got a DSLR, then another more serious one, one year later a MILC [mirrorless interchangeable lens camera], still didn’t like it, then I got hooked on film. And when I decided to go all in on film I said, “I want to have a good camera, they keep their price. I give it a try and if I don’t like it I can sell it for the same price a few months later.” So I bought my black Leica M6, which is my favourite camera ever since. It’s very simple, I’m used to it, and I’ve shot around 250 rolls of film with it.

I started to shoot film because every now and then when I was going through my feed on Instagram, the most beautiful black-and-whirte shots were always made on film. In fact they were always pushed black-and-white images. So for the most part I was shooting Ilford HP5+ during this three years. One day however, I tried Ilford FP4+ accidentally. Luckily the weather was perfect and man, it blew my mind. That winter I still switched back to Ilford HP5+ but these days the only film I shoot is FP4+.

I also shoot some color. With color it took me a lot more effort to find my favourite, but by now I know I don’t want to shoot anything other than Kodak Portra 160. It’s all 35mm, it’s all Leica, it’s all with a 35mm Summicron.

What are your favorite subjects, and why?

People. And People. Some cars, then again people. Sometimes weird buildings too, but I’m mostly interested in people. This is true both when I shoot on the streets during my trips and of course when I document my family. I’m interested in characters, interesting ones, weird moments, juxtapositions, emotions, mainly emotions, both happiness and sadness. Sometimes animals too, however we don’t really have pets, so this is again mostly on the road.

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

When I first wanted to try film, I bought a cheap 35mm compact rangefinder and a few types of black-and-white films. The majority of the photos didn’t turn out very good, but a few were so special that they blew my mind and they meant a lot more than the digital black-and-white pictures I was taking before. I wanted to go all in, shoot only film and never look back. I heard it on a podcast and I found it very true: when you have a digital RAW file, there are a hundred ways to post process that file, which is going to give you a hundred different styles.

It took me a lot of time to find the film which is closest to my taste but basically, it’s done. When I rise the camera and look through the finder I roughly know what can I expect and how it’s going to look. My photos have a consistent look and the tones, especially the blacks, are beautiful.

For myself I only shoot film. I don’t really shoot digital, maybe once or twice a year on family events, birthdays, etc, however I still have my film camera with me and I take pictures with that too. I don’t have the same emotional connection to the digital pictures also I don’t really like the gear as much as my film one, too many buttons, menus, options, etc. When I shoot digital, I’m always scared that I capture something I love and I cannot print it in my darkroom. So because of this, I tend to do it less and less.

Additionally, of course, I love the process. I love the fact my camera has no LCD screen, I don’t see the photo, I love to develop my film, hang it in the bathroom, looking through the photos, I even love to scan my negative, to see the photos in a good quality and I do print in darkroom as well. I know you can print great photos in digital labs, but I don’t believe in digital printing. I love the darkroom, I’m not a master, not even advanced, but I do have a lot of 8 x 10 inch photos that I’ve printed, and I love them.

What is unique about your work?

Unique? Absolutely nothing! There’s a million photographers out there, I’m just yet another guy shooting black-and-white street/documentary stuff. On the other hand, for myself of course, it’s special. It’s my journey, my daily notes, my memories, my family, my trips. It feels good when others like it too, but in a lot of cases it means completely different things to the viewer than for me, and that’s also fine.

How do you achieve your results?

It depends what you mean by “results.” The “look” of my photos comes from the lens selection (35mm Summicron, one of the best lenses out there), film selection (Ilford FP4+, but generally I like more slow BW films), pushing the film (under-exposing and then developing for a longer time). Because of these factors, my photos are usually quite sharp, fine grained, high contrast, with deep blacks. When it comes to content, that’s a different story.

My family documentary are everyday moments, sometimes at home, I’m just around my kids and I capture them when they do weird things. Also, when it comes to street, I carry my camera everywhere, so when I see something developing, I’m ready for it, sometimes even from the car, or when I travel. To have results in street photography you have to walk a lot and keep your eyes open.

Where do you hope your photography goes from here?

I’d like to take a few interesting photos every year. This whole photography thing is a therapy for me, it gives me a break from stress, from the everyday routine from the boring weekdays, so I do it because I enjoy it. That’s why I don’t have a website, I’m not really interested in having a place to showcase my photos. I print for myself, to have prints, sometimes I give them away but I don’t sell prints. I also don’t submit to festivals, I don’t believe photography is a competition.

On the other hand I joined a collective a few months ago, a group of very talented and enthusiast photographers, mostly professionals, and they push me out of my comfort zone and that’s good. I have the luxury that my everyday job pays me well, so I can take pictures as I want, not by the way paying clients want me to do it, and I like to keep it that way (see more on Andre Kertesz advise of being amateur).

Do you have any advice for new photographers?

Take pictures every day. There’s nothing more important than that. You need to practice to get better. Rules are important, composition is important, but breaking the rules is also very important. Take pictures that are important to you! If you can afford it, buy photo books and go to exhibitions. If not, look at the great masters’ work online.

Where can people see more of your images?

As I said, I don’t have a website, I don’t see the benefit of having one. You can find me on Instagram, there’s a very active film community there and I enjoy the interaction every day. Feel free to connect and say hi!

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Miguel Mercado

Miguel Mercado is a California based photographer. When not found roaming the streets, corners, alleyways of downtown San Diego...try again, he’s out there. Combination of digital and film gets it done.

All stories by:Miguel Mercado
  • You know how there are some photography articles that you read that inspire you so much and make you remember why you loved photography in the first place? Those articles that make you think “yes, that’s right, I feel the same way!” This article is one of those. I love how this person describes what photography does for him and how he enjoys it. It reminds me of what I love about it as I sometimes forget while I’m sitting in front of my computer screen sifting through hundreds of photos thinking “you love this, right?”. This reignited my passion and makes me want to go out and shoot. And his photos are fantastic, they draw you right in. Thank you for another great article.

    • Yes this does give that inspiration and feeling to create

    • I edited this piece together after my writer Miguel collected all of the words and images from Jacint, and just as you say, right after I finished putting the article together I just had to go grab a camera and shoot. I spent the next twenty minutes shooting simple photos of my kids around the house. They may not be was good as Jacint’s, but his philosophy really is motivating as you say! Thanks for reading as always.

  • Very cool article/interview about Jacint ! They style does as he says “follow the rules” but also says learn to break the rules . I see this in his work and I see a style similar to what a lot of digital photographers are doing. The trend is to protect the highlights. This in digital leads to much higher contrast photos than with film. But his has that “look” . And with his film choice it’s creating beautiful blacks with great innertonal details in the skin on people . The detail in the areas of the photos where the light is cast is beautiful. As is how he is “seeing the light cast upon things and it’s relationship to the shadows . Great job Jacint !

  • That Trabant wagon has been parked in that spot for years now. Which reminds me that I should finally write my “The last two-strokes of Budapest” photo story for Hagerty, all shot with my Praktica in true DDR fashion. Well, one day, I shall get there!
    Great feature, this one.

  • One of the best portfolios I’ve seen for a long time. Thank you for sharing.

  • You can get a few good books on the internet archive library.
    Join my group also and share your pictures, good or bad!

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Miguel Mercado

Miguel Mercado is a California based photographer. When not found roaming the streets, corners, alleyways of downtown San Diego...try again, he’s out there. Combination of digital and film gets it done.

All stories by:Miguel Mercado