Lockdown Sessions: Joe Brook Posted On 22nd April 2020 To Magazine & Lockdown Sessions
If you've ever held any interest in skateboarding then we're sure that you'll recognise Joe Brook, our third
victim interviewee for the Lockdown Sessions. Joe also featured in one of our 1st ILFORD Inspires videos. (You can find the link in his bio below).
SECTION 1 - THE BEGINNING
Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?
This is my favorite photo of 2019. I was on a skate trip with the Spitfire team and we were warming up at a skate park. A local told me the infamous cowboy hat that Daniel Harold Sturt shot a photo of Matt Hensley on was close by. The photo by Daniel Harold Sturt was the reason I started shooting photos in the first place. I remember seeing that photo and it was forever burnt into my brain. I really wanted to bring the Spitfire team to the cowboy hat to skate. I always carry my Hasselblad X pan loaded with HP5 +1 on all my trips.
When I asked them to go they were a little reluctant but when we arrived the guys were excited to see it. It was way better to skate than they had ever imagined. They started boosting and pulling each other up like a human chain to get on the hat. We knew we only had a few minutes to skate it as it's in a populated area.
Raney did a FS boneless and the rest of the guys were peeping around to watch and see when they could go. You wouldn't want to collide with anyone up there because if you fell you would get hurt really bad falling off the hat. The Xpan was perfect to get the hat and boots in the frame, and with HP5 in my camera you can't go wrong, it pushes really nice. It's really cool to have things come full circle. Even though I know the photo I shot will never be as iconic as the Sturt/Hensley photo. The image that Daniel Harold Sturt shot of Matt Hensley it inspired me to pick up a camera and that changed my life forever.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?
How and why did you get started shooting film?
That's what was available when I first started shooting and I still shoot film today because I like the way it looks and I love the process of printing in a darkroom.
Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration / influence to date?
All the greats of course Avedon, Penn, Leibowitz, Alec Soth, Sally Man, Anton Corbijn, Todd Hido, Mary Ellen Mark there's too many to name.
I think every skateboard photographer because we have to work in such high pressure situations and under crazy lighting conditions. It's cool to see what the new photographers are doing to carry on and document the history of skateboarding. Plus, you get to work with the best skateboarders in the world.
Michael Burnett is the editor at Thrasher Magazine. He is an amazing photographer and writer and is a work horse with a lot of great ideas. He inspires me to keep looking at the big picture and try to come up with different ways to shoot skaters and cover them journalistically. Working at Thrasher still trips me out as it was the first skateboarding magazine I saw when I was a 14 year old kid living in Michigan. It changed my life. I'm exposed to skateboarding, music, art and am blessed to able to travel the world and meet amazing people who have become friends over the years.
The most priceless thing to me are the friends that I have met along the way and the experiences that we have had exploring the world. I can't thank the Vittelo family enough for the amazing opportunities they have given me over the years.
What is the best piece of photography advice or tip you have received?
There are no rules, never stop looking and keep pushing yourself creatively. Look at photo books, go to art shows and museums. Never stop creating. Shoot photos of things you love and take yourself out of your comfort zone at times. Experiment with different photographic processes in and out of the darkroom. Know your photo equipment and how to use it.
SECTION 2 – IN LOCKDOWN
What photography related projects (if any) are you planning to do while in lockdown? (processing, scanning, printing, business planning etc) / Do you have any photography tips / ideas / projects for people to try?
I've have been redeveloping my website, archiving, organizing and scanning my negs and backing up hard drives. I have been shooting photos around my house and making art with my kids. We are going to make a zine of the art and photos we create during the lockdown when we get enough content for it.
What key piece of advice would you give others to see them through / stay motivated with their photography during lockdown?
Make use of the free time if you have any. Look at the world that is around you and document it in a different way. Most of us won't have an opportunity like this again so we need to take advantage of this time. Dust off some of the photo equipment that hasn't been used and put it to use. Learn new photo techniques via the web or photo books. Study photographers you like and watch videos on them. Look at photo books and make your own photo book. If you have a darkroom, try some different techniques, solarize some photos or try lith printing. Go through your archives and think of a project you can make with them and do it.
Where is the first place that you will be shooting once this is over and what kit will you take with you?
Being in lockdown makes me realize not to take anything for granted. I have been really wanting to go to Crater Lake which is a few hours away from my house and I have been wanting to go there for a few years. As soon as this is over, I'm there and I'll bring my Hasselblad 501 cm and my Xpan and some Ilford HP5.
This pandemic has given many people the opportunity to reassess goals and ambitions. When the world returns to normal what are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).
Focus more on photo projects that I have been working on and trying to make them come to life. Photo shows, zines and a photo book at one point. Also keeping my archive more organized.
On a non-photography question - This is a bit more deep and meaningful but post coronavirus, what would you like the world to do differently (what lessons could we all take from this)?
Hopefully, as a whole, we can all learn from this experience since we are all in this together. Act on the things that I believe in and be more verbal about them such as taking care of plant earth, being healthier as a human, being kind to people and helping people. Life and time is so fleeting, let's have fun while we are here.
SECTION 3 - SHOUT OUTS
We all need a bit of inspiration and love so this is your chance to tell the community about yours – from the film photographers whose work inspires you, the labs you trust with your film, your ‘go to’ film photography stockists, your favourite community darkrooms or just anyone in the community who you feel deserves a special mention.
Give a shout out to your 3 favourite film photographers (not photography hubs) currently active on IG or Twitter and briefly tell us why others should follow them?
@iajujnat Jai is any amazing photographer and great person. He mostly shoots film and makes amazing zines. He also does @printexchange which is really fun. It's photographers mailing photo's and art to a list of regular contributors via a postcard.
@thomascampbellart Thomas only shoots film. He also publishes books, paints, and films movies. He is always creating and I love his work. He never stops creating.
@fwo3 Frank is always creating beautiful images. The way he sees light and captures it, is amazing. He also is a master at creating light . He makes books and keeps journals and his work is really incredible and inspirational.
Give a shout out to your 3 favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one)?
I watch mattdayphoto and random ones I can't recall. I check them out when I want to learn about a camera or a process etc.
Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailer (name, location and website)
Glass Key Photo, San Francisco 1230 Sutter St SF,CA 94109
Blue Moon Camera and Machine 8417 N Lombard St Portland, OR 97203
Pro Photo Supply 8417 N Lombard St Portland,OR 97203
Citizen Photo 3070 NE Sandy Blvd Portland,OR 97232
Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one, (name, location, website)
Blue Moon Camera and Machine 8417 N Lombard St Portland, OR 97203 https://bluemooncamera.com/
Pro Photo Supply 8417 N Lombard St Portland,OR 97203 https://prophotosupply.com/
Citizen Photo 3070 NE Sandy Blvd Portland,OR 97232 http://www.citizensphoto.com/
Underdog Film Lab 1624 Peralta St Oakland,CA 94607 https://www.underdogfilmlab.com
SECTION 4 - FAVOURITE KIT
What is your favourite film camera you own (or have owned/used)? (Send us a picture of it if you have one).
My Nikon FE2 because it was the first camera that I bought for myself while living in San Francisco. I still have it and use it daily. It's all scratched and dented up like me from years of use. Cameras are tools not jewels for me. It's simple and small and that's why I love it!
Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?
Light meter, table top tripod, phone charger, gaffer tape, leatherman tool, sun screen, bandanna, hand sanitizer, batteries, sunglasses, Advil, and some cash.
What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?
My first camera. A Ricoh KR5 that my friend Dave Metty gifted me when I started taking photo classes at CCSF in San Francisco. I didn't own a camera at the time. I would borrow the school's cameras. The Ricoh KR5 camera changed my life forever and just having it on me at all times to shoot photos was a game changer.
As this is an ILFORD interview it would be remiss of us not to ask about your favourite ILFORD products. Tell us your favourite ILFORD film, paper and chems and why?
I love HP5. I shoot it at box speed most of the time. but it's great for pushing as well. I use 35mm, 120, and 4x5 formats.
About The Author
Despite using a medium known primarily for the ability to record events precisely as they occurred, the best photographers produce work that tells that story, but also leaves you wondering. They inspire awe, and many unanswerable questions. There are few photographers who can match Joe Brook in that beautiful balancing act. By virtue of his trade as visual chronicler for an irreverent and disruptive youth culture media outlet known the world over, Joe is regularly embedded in moments where key elements of the story must be made plain as proof of occurrence, while other elements must remain shrouded in mystery. The Who, yes; the What, often; the Where and When, occasionally; but the Why and the How, never. That is the magic. Joe dances with the elements in a playful way, having fun with his subjects and environment, and always putting everybody at ease while turning them into participants in the moment as only he can see it. He moves effortlessly in every scenario, constantly looking, finding the angles, and capturing the ephemera before you even notice he has done it.
But all that delicacy aside, Joe Brook is a workhorse of monstrous and epic proportion. Joe grinds it out like none other, never once quitting or shying away. No excuses. His work ethic borders on the puritanical, and both his long list of friends and his curriculum vitae speak to his skills. Joe has graced the pages and pixels of a crème-de-la-créme roll call of outlets, including Thrasher, Juxtapoz, Rolling Stone, PDN, Kodak, Lodown, and countless others, but he will never tell you about that. He’s too busy shooting 100 portraits of you that will capture your inner spirit, and leave you wondering how you never saw yourself as clearly as he did. The whole time he’ll be smiling.
You can follow Joe and find more of his images on the links below:-
Watch Joe’s ILFORD Inspires video at:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYpJQoLkCdA