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. 

New Zealand & Australia

It feels good to be traveling again.

Sam and I recently returned from a New Zealand and Australia where we spent time connecting with a good friend who moved to Australia a few years ago and exploring two new countries on our bucket list. It's crazy to think that our last big trip was Africa which felt so long ago, but this past year has been a bit of a blur to say the least. That said, we were still able to find a few smaller albeit equally exciting trips including Avalon with our family and NYCWLK with Johnny and Rebecca Patience.

We began our trip on a long haul flight from LAX to SYD and spent the next few days in Sydney. With a majority of our New Zealand itinerary focused on the more remote South Island we decided to spend our time in Sydney exploring the amazing food scene and various neighborhoods with Surry Hills being my favorite. We dealt with a lot of less than ideal weather in Sydney, but were still able to enjoy ourselves as well as connect with a good friend who I hadn't seen in several years after she decided to move to Sydney. After a few days in Sydney, we were off to the South Island of New Zealand.

For starters, New Zealand was one of the most difficult locations for me when it comes to photography. Places like Tokyo, Cape Town, Beijing, San Miguel de Allende, and Paris are filled with so many people, so much energy, not to mention different languages and customs. But the South Island of New Zealand has far fewer people and leaves you with nothing but some of the most unbelievably beautiful landscapes for as far as you can see. In many ways, the landscapes and views were impossible to accurately capture in a photograph. For the first time since picking up a camera, I found myself spending less time making photographs and more time taking in the views and the incredible star-filled night skies. We spent nearly two weeks throughout the South Island - from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Queensberry, and Wanaka before flying to Auckland and then returning to Los Angeles. Aside from some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen, the people were some of the most welcoming and down to earth individuals I've met since I started traveling and it was not easy leaving such a beautiful and hospitable country.

Up next, Spain and Portugal in September.

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.   

ONA Bags: Photographer Profile Feature

While traveling throughout Australia and New Zealand last month, ONA Bags released a Photographer Profile feature that we had been collaborating on the previous few weeks. It was a pretty humbling experience to be interviewed by a company I've admired since picking up a camera, especially when considering some of the photographers and artists they've collaborated with in the past.

All of this began when I met some of the ONA team this past September in Brooklyn during Johnny and Rebecca Patience's NYCWLK. They noticed that Sam and I both were using ONA Bags that day during the photowalk and we ended up talking cameras, bags and eventually sharing some of my work. Since meeting in Brooklyn, we've kept in touch and decided to collaborate on a Photographer Profile interview for their blog. In addition to our collaboration, they sent me their brand new product, The Bond Street, which is a perfect complement to my Union Street and Bowery. You can read a few excerpts below or the full Photographer Profile interview on their blog.

We’re excited to debut a new format for our community profiles, comprised of nineteen questions that almost every creative individual can answer, along with a “lightning round” of less serious questions at the end. Our first subject is Johnny Schroepfer, who we met along with his wife Sam at a photo walk last September. Share your photos by tagging #ONAbags to be featured.

Name: Johnny Schroepfer

Hometown: I grew up in Dallas, Texas before moving to Chicago, Illinois

Describe your aesthetic in five words or less: Travel, Authentic, Clean, Candid, Bright

Go-to gear: Recently, I’ve been shooting a lot with the Sony a7R Mark iiSony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f1/.8, and the ONA Leather Bowery.

Favorite place to photograph: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Biggest creative influence: Robert Frank

Thing you can’t live without: Hasselblad 500CM with a Carl Zeiss Planar T* 80mm f/2.8 that was a gift from my wife, Sam.

What motivates you: Exploring new places and cultures, documenting small moments in our daily lives, creating a body of work that reflects the experiences I’ve had throughout my life.

Time of day are you most creative: Early Morning

Biggest challenge: Avoiding hibernation mode and forcing myself to shoot more during the brutal Chicago winters.

One piece of advice that stuck with you: I think making photos all time time, even when you don’t feel like it, is critical to developing one’s creative vision and growing as an artist. Its those times when you don’t feel like shooting that are arguably the most important.

Mistake you’ve learned from: Believing that post processing can offset creative vision.

Work you are most proud of: My most recent project, A Life in Paris, which is a book that highlights a selection of my favorite photographs made while living in Paris, France in 2015.

Most used phrase: “Can you come look at this?” whether it’s asking my wife, Sam, about final edits I’m sending to print or coworkers about a design problem I’m working on.

Earliest memory: Playing in my backyard with my older brother

Hidden talent: I’m incredibly passionate about music and can play several instruments.

Dream project: Collaborating with a non-profit that I’m passionate about and actively involved with like charity: water or the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC). I’d love to travel back to Africa, but this time on a photography assignment to help raise awareness about clean and safe drinking water in developing nations.

Most recent “a-ha” moment: Committing to learning the art of printing your work. Whether you shoot film, digital, or both, I believe that you’re significantly limiting yourself as an artist if you don’t take the time to print your work. I’ve been working with Richard Photo Lab in California for a little over a year now and this collaboration has helped strengthen my relationship and love for the art of photography. And, it has helped me grow as an artist in how I approach both digital and film photography.

Goal for 2017: Publish a book containing a selection of my favorite photographs made while traveling the world with my wife, Sam, these past few years. We’ve traveled from North America to Europe, to Asia, and Africa. We’ll be visiting New Zealand, Australia, Portugal and Spain this year and my goal once we return from our travels is to review the tens of thousands of photographs that have been made throughout the past few years and create something of meaning to share with our close friends, family and maybe even some of you.

Lightning round: 

Sweet or savory: Savory

Childhood celebrity crush: Natalie Portman

Cats or dogs: Dogs

Favorite album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

Favorite book: Anything by Neal Stephenson

Biggest fear: Flying

New Year

Sam and I spent Christmas in Dallas this year with my family and a majority of our time was focused on the most recent addition to the family, Myles. Looking back on 2016, it was an odd year to say the least but there were some pretty great moments throughout the year as well. That said, I can't think of a better way to spend the last few days of the year than to enjoy a few good meals, movies and quality time with family.

2017 will no doubt be a big year for photography, and for travel. Our plans include traveling to New Zealand, Australia, Spain and Portugal. In addition to travel, I plan to print my second, and most significant, photography project which includes select photographs made during the past five years of traveling the world. From North America to Europe to Africa and Asia. My previous project, A Life in Paris, focuses on the time we spent living in Paris, France in 2015.

All photographs were created with the Sony a7R Mark ii, the Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA and the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8

Thanksgiving

Sam and I spent Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh this year and it was filled with quality family time and holiday festivities. For me, the holidays are often some of the hardest times for me to consistently shoot. I often fail to balance making time to shoot with focusing my energy on family time. More specifically, I'm very cognizant of how much time I spend with a camera in my hand when visiting with people I only get to see a handful of times a year. That said, I know there's a balance and it's something I've been working towards over the past few years with this Thanksgiving being a success.

For starters, Carl, my father-in-law, recently had his BMW Z3 repainted and I had the opportunity to create a few photographs of both the car and a few portraits of him the day he got it back from the shop. To say he was nervous about seeing the car for the first time after it was painted would be an understatement. If there's one thing I know about my farther-in-law, it's how much this man loves his sports car. This was incredibly special moment for me because I had the opportunity to both document the newly painted car and create a few portraits of Carl, which is a rare treat. I few of the select photographs are below and I plan to create a few large format prints for Carl to keep.

In addition to documenting the restored BMW Z3, we spent some time outside of Pittsburgh searching for the perfect Christmas tree. Having grown up in the south, I'm never fully prepared for how beautiful the northeast can be, especially outside of major cities - the rolling hills, colorful foliage and sleepy morning fog represent the ideal environment for me. And, now matter how many times I've seen these views, I'm never fully prepared to experience them each year during the holidays. The entire family spent all morning searching the farmland for our perfect tree and we found two - one for Sam's parents and the other for my sister-in-law and her boyfriend.

All photographers were created with the Leica M6 and Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 on Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak Tri-X 400. All images were scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California.

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