Hi Jenna! Can you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 27-year-old queer, non-binary film photographer. I am born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area and currently reside in Oakland. I am going to school for photography at CCSF with plans to move on to a degree in sonography.
What originally interested you in film photography and what keeps you shooting it today?
I found a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic at a consignment store in Dallas, Texas and started taking it with me everywhere. Film photography started out as a way for me to create art and capture memories of friends and places I’ve been. But it’s turned into my absolute passion. I photograph to make sense of the world and to create meaning and beauty from the monotony of everyday life.
You take the most vibrant photos of the Bay area. What is the relationship between photography and location for you?
I am born and raised in the Bay area and have such an intimate relationship with an area that sees a lot of transplants. In the beginning of the pandemic I spent hours a day driving around and photographing and cataloging locations throughout San Francisco and Oakland and I have a Google Maps saved guide of over 200 places with cool buildings, cars, etc. all over the Bay Area. I pride myself on showcasing what I think is the best the Bay has to offer and I love being able to share that with people all over the world.
Throughout your film photography journey, what is one thing that has been a game changer for you?
Developing and scanning my own film. If you have the time and resources to do so, I highly recommend it. I’ve been strictly scanning and developing all of my own film for the past two years now and I’ve saved so much money. I bought my Epson V600 scanner and C-41 chemicals and auto load plastic film reels and it’s been the best film decision I’ve ever made (besides finding a $600 Hasselblad!)
You recently posted a guide of 30 Queer Portraits on Instagram. If you had to pick one that has the biggest impact on you, which would it be and why?
It’s really difficult for me to choose just one.
I would have to say Jessica Tanzer’s (Instagram) portrait of the gay woman with the shaved head at SF Pride in the 1990s had the most immediate profound impact on me. She has her leather jacket in her hand and she’s mid yell with her hands up in the air, it’s pure queer joy and makes me emotional every time! All of Jessica’s work really strikes an emotional chord with me.
[And] Chloe Sherman! Another queer San Francisco photographer from the ’90s whose work has absolutely captured my Bay area gay heart. Both of them are very influential to how I approach portraits and how I feel my community and the streets of San Francisco in general. They remind me of the queer culture that can so easily be forgotten with the migration of techies and gentrification that has saturated SF.
You frequently speak out on the gender disparity in the film photography community. How did you first become passionate about the subject and why is it important to you?
I used to co-curate a film page last year and when I brought up the lack of gender inclusion in our posts, the creator of the page said something along the lines of “we don’t get enough female/nonbinary submissions.” So, I made it my personal mission to make my curation day strictly female/non-binary photographers to show them, yes we do get submissions you’re just not looking hard enough! That’s a common excuse men make in the curation of pages, but all you have to do is be conscious about who we’re posting and the kind of recognition we’re portraying.
A lot of these pages repost the same twenty or thirty male artists and over-saturate our feeds with men who have been featured hundreds of times across Instagram film pages. I started counting how many male versus non-male photographers were being posted and the discrepancy was jarring. Kodak seems to be the worst at inclusion and diversity (female and People of Color are a very low percentage of their posts). I am a non-binary, gay photographer and I think we need to be loud and take up space in this community that wants to push us to the side. We’re not going anywhere and they better learn to deal with it.
What is one area of photography that you feel like you’ve seen the biggest growth or improvement in yourself?
I have seen the biggest improvement in my film development this year. I am in school for photography and learned a lot about tips and tricks in Lightroom for my negatives as well as the more technical aspects of photography that I can now apply to my work.
What photo of yours are you most proud of and why?
This is a hard question! I have a lot of favorites but the one I think I’m most proud of is my image of a pink vintage car with pink flowers in the background. Pink is my favorite color and cars and flowers are two of my favorite things to photograph. It was one of those photos that I converted in Lightroom and said “Wow!” It was also the picture used for the flier of my first gallery show, so it will always have that sentimental value for me and I will always cherish it as “the photo.”
Who are your favorite female or non-binary photographers, either past or present?
My favorite female/enby LGTBQ photographers in no particular order are Chloe Sherman, Kate, Liam, Kaileaa, Allie, Naa Korkoi, Han Phan, Denise, Nat Meier.
Do you have any big projects, or film adventures lined up for 2023?
I would really love to put out a photo book this year, that’s something that has been a dream of mine. I’m also dipping my toe back into darkroom printing this year with black and white photography! I’m hoping to get back into taking more queer portraits this year as well.
Where can people find you and your work online?
Instagram, Twitter, and at Darkroom Tech.
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This was a phenomenal interview! Especially thankful for the diverse photographer recommendations!