Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feature Photographer - Steph Parke

 Today, it's my pleasure to introduce you to Steph Parke - a plastic camera lover and amazing photographer.  She is also the editor of a very popular magazine dedicated to toy camera photography - Light Leaks.

Willard Wetlands

How did you get introduced to your first Holga and how long have you been shooting with it?

I was in college in my Intermediate Photo class, and toward the end of the semester in 2002, we were given an assignment to shoot with a Holga.  I checked one out from the lab that day and shot one lonely roll of film.  The next day I went to the darkroom and absolutely HATED what I saw on my negatives.  They were blurry and not anything I had pictured.  I thought they sucked.  I finished the rest of my college classes without ever picking up a Holga again.  Fast forward to a few months after graduation in '04, and somehow I ended up Googling "Holga", clicked on, ordered a Holga and a small cache of 120 film within the hour, and the rest is history.

Sprague Lake, Colorado

False Summit

What is it about toy cameras / plastic lenses that draws you to shoot with them?

I love the soft focus, the vignette, the distortion, the happy accidents, and I love being a very small part of the toy camera community.  I think they'd kick me out if I stopped using toys.  

Desert Door

Bull Trout Lake, Idaho (Banner Image - Diana Clone)

What other cameras do you have in your arsenal?

Besides Holgas, I have a few Dianas and clones, including a very loved Banner.  Of the non-toy persuasion, I use my Polaroid SLR 680 and Pentax K1000 the most.  I forget how much I love my Lubitel 166B and Kodak Duaflex, and have just started using my tiny Brownie Chiquita.

Hug Point, Oregon (Duaflex)

Buckboard Crossing, Wyoming (Banner Image - Diana Clone)
Favorite film(s)?

Last fall I shot Kodak Portra 400NC for the first time and when I saw the prints from that first roll, I think I swore off any other kind of color film.  It is gorgeous.  I stocked up on it at B&H when I visited NYC shortly after.  It's also no surprise how much I love Polaroid film.

Greens Lake, Utah (Polaroid)

Leaves | Chair (Polaroid)

Goodbye Pacific Grove, San Francisco (Polaroid)

Your favourite Holga photo that you've taken? 

"Wholesale Grocer" is one of my favorites because it gave me the idea to start my Local Color project.  In college, everything was so structured.  Assignments were given, photos were made, grades were doled out.  After I graduated, I really struggled with assignments, per se.  I felt like I should be shooting for a body of work but I just couldn't come up with anything, but the day we drove past this old factory, a light bulb turned on.  I had my husband turn the car around and I waited for traffic to pass then ran into the middle of the road and shot two frames.  Four years, 24 Holga photos, and four exhibits of the project later, I retired the show at Gallery at the Station in the Ogden Union Station across the street from where "Wholesale Grocer" was shot in 2005.  Coincidentally, my grandma's funeral was held on the final day of the exhibit, and afterward, we had a family gathering at the gallery.  We wanted her to be able to "see" my work one last time.  All the photos in Local Color were made in Ogden, the town my grandma was born and grew up in and lived her life in, and she loved Ogden so much.  Local Color ended up taking on a whole new meaning that last day.  It became a tribute my grandma, who I love and miss so much.

You shoot a lot of beautiful dreamy landscapes.  Where do you travel to find these wonderful spots?

Thank you!  I'm fortunate to live in a very photogenic place.  I live in Northern Utah and am minutes from the mountains, and only a few hours drive from Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks in Utah, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in Wyoming.  Also, this past summer, I worked for the US Forest Service, photographing campgrounds in national forests throughout Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada, and I can honestly say I've never shot so much.  I took thousands of digital photos of picnic tables, fire rings, RV pads, tent sites, and the pine trees around them, but I also shot hundreds of images with my film cameras.

Untitled, Utah (Duaflex)

Pinyon, Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon NP (Duaflex)

You are the editor of Light Leaks right? If you don't mind speaking a little bit about your work there, I'm sure my readers would love to know what it's like and how the magazine has evolved over the years. 

I am in fact the editor of Light Leaks, and it's a job I adore.  I work closely with Mike Barnes to arrange content, which includes a whole lot of Googling/researching, reading, answering queries, and looking at photography.  The magazine has come a long way in the 4.5 years it's been in print.  I was minimally involved in the first issue as the calendar editor, a very short-lived feature, but between the first and second issues, I became the Supervising Editor.  I was scared beyond belief when I took the reins but quickly learned how much fun it would be.  We've made a lot of changes since that first issue, including two very obvious changes - the size and design.  We've changed up gallery editors, proofreaders, contributors... pretty much anything you can change, we have, all in the name of keeping things fresh and interesting for our readers.

Port, Garibaldi, Oregon (Banner Image - Diana Clone)

What's your favorite part of being the editor of LL?

I get to learn about and meet so many wonderfully talented photographers and writers over the course of creating each issue, and that's the part I love the most.  I'm also freakishly organized, and I believe I told Mike that when I volunteered for this job, so I just love laying out all the pieces of each issue and watching them come together in the end.

Redfish Lake, Idaho (Banner Image - Diana Clone)

What does the future hold for LL?Starting with what I kept calling (say it like a circus announcer) "The Polaroid Spectacular!", we decided to do one special issue per year that's dedicated completely to a specific medium/theme.  Most recently was our Pinhole Special, and up next will be our DIY Special.  Look for it toward the end of 2010.  We're also planning a Polaroid redux, since it was such a big hit the first time.  It was our first issue to sell out!

That Tree, San Francisco (Banner Image - Diana Clone)

Crooked Tree

Thank you Steph for taking the time to answer my questions and show off your beautiful photos!  Steph also wanted me to let you all know that she just recently celebrated her 5 year blog anniversary, and has opened up a new shop - to celebrate, everything is on sale for the whole month of February!  Go check it out!

Steph's Website -
Steph's Blog -
Steph's Flickr -
Steph's Shop - (For the whole month of February, everything is on sale!)


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