Saugatuck

It’s been nearly six months since our last trip.

Since that time, we’ve paused our travels to prepare for the arrival of our daughter. Several weeks after her arrival, we were determined to get back to a life of travel, and to introduce her to what we love most in life, so we took a road trip. Over the years, we’ve explored various towns throughout Wisconsin and Michigan, looking for small, creative communities with great food and easy access to the Lake.

Saugatuck is one of the closest representations to that ideal small town community; welcoming locals, beautiful homes along the lake, and several fantastic local restaurants. We found a sleepy cabin, tucked away behind some large trees which created the conditions for beautiful morning and evening light. We took our time over the next few days, nothing planned, but left with memories of Michigan strawberries, late night conversations over a bottle of wine, and our daughters first visit to the beach. 

All photographs were created with the Leica M10-P.

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Maui

Similar to my perception of London, Hawaii was never on my short list of destinations. For starters, you’re already well on your way to Japan, or Australia, or New Zealand. What’s another several hours of flight, especially in a 777 or 787? And, secondly, nothing makes me happier than exploring a new city with a camera in my hand. While I love the ocean and being on the water, I’ve never been the type to lay on the beach (or so I thought).

Sam and I spent ten days in Maui with our family this past December and I have to say, I’m a big fan. What it lacked in street and travel photography, it made up for with amazing views and weather. It was a trip of deep relaxation and family time, something I wasn’t aware that I needed as badly as I did. My morning routine was made up of meditation at sunrise followed by a walk on the beach with Sam, balancing the Fuji X100F and a black coffee. What I found to be a surprising benefit of a trip like Maui was that I felt more creative and challenged to make photographs that I usually didn’t consider. And, in a weird way, Maui was just as much about putting the camera down.

All photographs were created with the Fujifilm X100F.

Paris

I’ve written about Paris at length and it still remains one of the most significant cities in my life. Beyond the sentimental aspects of Paris, the light, the color palette, and the creative energy are unlike any other city I’ve visited in my life. It remains one of my favorite places to photograph.

Our most recent visit to Paris was the closest I’ve felt to being a local. After living in a flat in the 17th arrondissement in 2015, I felt no pressure to explore as much as possible or to make an endless amount of photographs, it was a more relaxed and slow paced visit. It’s a rare place in the world that calls to me, a place where I feel like I instantly belong. A city filled with creativity and passion.

All photographs were created with the Fujifilm X100F and the Hasselblad 500CM with Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 on Kodak Portra 400.

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London

Nearly a year ago to the day was the first time I had spent time in the city of London. It had always been in the back of my mind, and oddly enough, somewhere I’ve flown through many times but never stepped foot outside the airport. London has always represented more of a midpoint than a destination. A layover on your way to South Africa or a required connection to the South of France. There’s always been a certain curiosity about the city, but similar to a US destination like Hawaii, I always felt compelled to travel just a bit further outside of my comfort zone.

We met up with local street photographer, Joshua Jackson, who took us on an all day photo walk and showed us some of his favorite spots in the city. It was refreshing to get a local perspective on a city that has endless tourist traps and felt like we learned more in that time with Joshua than we did throughout the rest of the trip. It was great to spend a day with a photographer and talk gear, film, and technique. His approach to color and street photography are incredibly inspiring and I learned a lot just by observing how he approached a scene to make a photograph. We finished our photo walk with a few drinks at a local pub and discussed favorite film cameras before parting ways.

As for the city itself, there were areas like Shoreditch, Chinatown, Soho, and Notting Hill that provided more inspiration and character than some of the more romanced parts of London. We stayed in Shoreditch during our trip and it was the closest to a creative community that I found in the city. Throughout the rest of London, there were ongoing themes of identity and of old and new. The historical London contrasted with skyscrapers and new construction weaved throughout them. Finding the creative pockets throughout this maze was well worth the effort and left me with a great appreciation and almost a sense of regret for not visiting earlier.

All photographs were created with the Fujifilm X100F and the Hasselblad 500CM with Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 on Kodak Portra 400.

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NYC 2018 Workshop

It’s been some time since I last sat down to write about photography. Since then, Sam and I have traveled to London, Paris, and most recently Brooklyn where I met up with Johnny and Rebecca Patience for their NYC 2018 workshop at the Bushwick Community Darkroom. As for London and Paris, more to come once I’ve finished my selections and edits.

Johnny’s NYC workshop was centered around the goals of better understanding black and white film photography - more specifically, the relationship between exposures and density of negatives along with the importance of your workflow and approach in the darkroom. 

We spent the first day discussing your approach, philosophies behind metering, and spending some time taking photos throughout Bushwick. The second day was spent entirely in the darkroom where we reviewed our negatives, made selections, experimented with the enlarger, ran test strips, and finally narrowed in on our development times for our desired look and feel.

Having shot film for nearly four years now, it’s embarrassing to write that this was the first time I’ve stepped foot in a darkroom. I’ve always collaborated with Richard Photo Lab when it came to my film work including development, scanning, and fine art prints. And, while it sounds cliché, there really is a different feeling when developing your own work. It’s an art in and of itself and left me feeling both incredibly humbled yet inspired.

Needless to say, you can only begin to scratch the surface in a two day workshop, however I left New York City with a new appreciation for both B&W photography and the darkroom. And, the role that it can play in shaping my approach and my work.

All photographs were created with a Leica M6 and the Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 on Kodak Tri-X 400.

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Winter Road Trip

It’s been a while since I sat down to write about my photography, but what I’ve lacked in writing, I’ve certainly made up for with photographs. This year I’ve been focusing on growth, specifically the imperfection and failure of my photography by pursuing a 365 project. I’ve been forcing myself to shoot daily with my Fuji X100F and my Leica M6, but I’ll share more about that project later this year.

Since starting a 365 project, Sam and I continued our winter tradition of traveling to a warm climate. We spent a little over a week this past winter taking a road trip through the desert. We started in Phoenix where we caught a few Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers Spring Training baseball games before taking a few days to drive through Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Park. After Joshua Tree, we arrived in Palm Springs for a few days where we enjoyed a beautiful bed and breakfast before driving to Los Angeles to visit my little brother, Michael, and enjoy some of his favorite food spots.

The light and color palette throughout Arizona and California was incredible. Many photographers speak about the light in Southern California and this was the first time I had visited long enough to truly take advantage of it. Each morning was filled with soft and subtle pinks, oranges, and yellows which complement my preference for color film, especially Kodak Portra 400. Mid-day was often filled with an overwhelming amount of white light that forced us to be a bit more creative when it came to medium format exposures. Even modern-day sensors and shutter speeds up to 1/4000 needed to be stopped down. Sunsets and even dusk brought beautiful and deep reds, purples, and blues. Overall, it was a significant shift from having to shoot in the cloudy winter months of the Midwest. 

While we enjoyed our time on the road in the US, the hours behind the wheel gave me plenty of time to reflect on many things including how much we’ve missed international travel, and the need for us to get back at it.

Up next, London and Paris. What's next for you?

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400 or the Fuji X100F and the Fujinon 23mm f/2.

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Japan Camera Hunter: In Your Bag

I was recently featured in Bellamy Hunt’s In Your Bag series on his blog. If you haven’t checked out his website, Japan Camera Hunter, I highly recommend it. Bellamy is great to work with if you’re looking for a rare or very specific camera. He also created his own line of film, JCH, in both 135 and 120 and offers various camera accessories.

To read my feature on Japan Camera Hunter, check out Bellamy’s site or read the excerpt below.  

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In your bag No: 1545 – Johnny Schroepfer

Johnny packs some wunderbar glass in his bag when he’s globe trotting, check it out.

Hey, I’m Johnny Schroepfer and I’m a Chicago-based designer and photographer with a passion for travel. I’ve spent the last several years traveling the world and documenting different cultures and its people with my camera and my best friend and wife, Samantha. From Europe to Africa to Asia, I find travel to be a primary inspiration and focus in my photography. After traveling the world, I can still say that Tokyo is my absolute favorite city (and that’s not just because of all the camera gear!).

I had the pleasure of working with Bellamy after my return from Africa in which he tracked down a beautiful mint condition Leica M6. I absolutely love having the Leitz badge as it creates a lot of conversation with fellow Leica geeks. I’ve been shooting the M6 with a Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 lens which leaves little to be desired. In addition to my M6, I shoot a good amount of medium format on my Hasselblad 500 C/M which was a gift from my wife when we were living in Paris, France. I pair the 500 C/M with the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 which is an absolutely breathtaking lens.

It’s been fun watching the Japan Camera Hunter community grow and I enjoy reading all the In Your Bag articles and learning about various set ups and collections. Keep up the great work, Bellamy & Co.

A Life of Travel

As 2017 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on all that occurred with my photography this year including exploring New Zealand, Australia, and sending my first two photo books to print. For those of you interested in seeing some of my New Zealand and Australia work, check out my post from March 2017

I’ve previously written about A Life in Paris, but I spent part of this year revisiting the book and refining some of the edits, layout and quotes which resulted in a reprint. In addition to reprinting A Life in Paris, I completed my second book A Life of Travel which documents the past five years of international travel including select photographs and writing from San Miguel de Allende, Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing, Nice, Paris, Cape Town, Kruger National Park, Wanaka, Sydney, and Queenstown

Both of these books required an incredible amount of time and effort but I’m very happy with the final work and it was a pleasure revisiting all of the moments through my photographs and journal entries. I’ve included both cover photos as well as a preview from each book.

All photographs were created with either the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss PlanarT* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400 or the Sony A7R Mark ii, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, Sony T* FE 35mm f/28, Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA OOS and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0.   

A Life of Travel  Cover

A Life of Travel Cover

A Life of Travel  Sample

A Life of Travel Sample

A Life in Paris  Cover

A Life in Paris Cover

A Life in Paris  Sample

A Life in Paris Sample

Cooperstown, New York

It's a bit of an understatement when I say I grew up in a baseball family. I spent most summer nights in Arlington, Texas at the Texas Rangers baseball games with my family. And, in addition to summer night ball games, my brothers and I would spend every summer with my dad visiting a different Major League Baseball ballpark (and sometimes visiting a minor league stadium as well). As we got older, moved on to college and in some cases moved to different states, our trips became less frequent. When this years Hall of Fame Class was announced, we decided we had to make one last baseball trip to see the Texas Rangers very own Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez enter the Hall of Fame.

Cooperstown is a sleepy and incredibly charming village of around 1,700 people. I didn't know what to expect when visiting such a small town in Upstate New York known as "the home of baseball", but it felt very east coast, almost Martha's Vineyard-like, unlike many of the surrounding towns. Given the size of the town, we ended up staying about forty-five minutes away in a town called Cobleskill, New York. The two towns could not be more different from each other and it's probably best that we spent our days in Cooperstown. It was an incredible experience to be part of the baseball community that made the trip to Cooperstown. The amount of history in such a small place was overwhelming - museums, hall of fame baseball players, collectors, fans from around the world, basically every aspect of baseball was represented. More importantly, I was so grateful to learn more about the game with my family as well as learn more about all of my dad's favorite players and his baseball memories throughout his life.

All photographs were created with the Sony A7R Mark ii, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA and Sony T* FE 35mm f/2.8.

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Chicago photo walk

Things have been pretty hectic since returning from New Zealand and Australia.

Sam and I have purchased our first condo which has had some impact on our travel and my photography workflow. Over the past few months, a majority of my photography equipment has been stored in boxes and moved from one location to another making it pretty difficult to make, edit and publish photographs. We've finally settled in to our new home and I've set up my new photography workspace.

While we were living out of boxes, I had an opportunity to meet up with Grace and Kevin Sears for coffee and a photo walk. Photo walks are easily one of my favorite parts of being a photographer. More specifically, meeting like-minded individuals who are equally passionate about creating art. While the weather was still a bit brisk, we spent a few hours visiting some of my favorite locations in Chicago while debating Kodak Tri-X vs. Ilford HP5 and discussing various tips and techniques. To view some of Kevin's amazing black and white photography, check out his Instagram or Lomography.

All photographs were created with the Hasselblad 500CM and the Carl Zeiss PlanarT* f/2.8 on Kodak Portra 400. All black and white photographs were created the Kevin's Leica MP and Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 on Ilford HP5.