While Jakob summited Wyoming Peaks, Memento chatted with Jakob ahead of #JLR-DROP01 to explore his perspective as an icon of film photography. Portra Papi also shared his thoughts on Memento’s mission to create elevated, offline alternatives for the medium outside to social media.
What first prompted you to get into photography?
Film photography is a passion that slowly took over my life through my love for the medium. I was so focused on technical perfection when starting photography that I was blind to the emotions trapped within imagery. The more my love grew towards the history of the art, the more my interest pushed me to pick up a film camera.
“Film is so focused on emotion over clinical sharpness that it changed the way I see the world around me.”
For a while, I worked at an older film store in a rough area that produced some horrible scans. Due to this, I would shoot and stockpile film in my fridge until I had accumulated around 40 rolls. After a year of building rolls I turned everything into an SF lab, I fully fell head over heels with reliving these memories once again. Film is so focused on emotion over clinical sharpness that it changed the way I see the world around me. There's no fear of checking images or importing footage. All my attention is pulled into the moment, right until I hear the click of the shutter.
Building from what you just shared - do you have anything to add on what motivates you as a photographer today or how those motivations may have changed over time?
Photography has slowly become the underlying language of modern society. The focus on capturing authentic candid moments of life, all within the rules of the medium, is something that keeps me glued to my camera. Picking up a tool to document life invites magic to happen right in front of you. If you train yourself to read these visual moments sculpted by light, you truly get to rediscover the whole world around you. This has pushed my focus to wild places and cultures that are quickly changing through the modern advancements of society. Holding onto and showcasing these stories that will soon be lost in time.
“If you train yourself to read these visual moments sculpted by light, you truly get to rediscover the whole world around you.”
Do you have what you'd call a photographic style or genre?
Finding your photography style is a lifelong pursuit every artist goes through. It involves refining your preferences and creating a color space for your universe to exist in. It's about creating something personal that contributes to the conversation of the medium. Slowly, I've found myself picking up a preference for particular film stock and focal lengths to establish a fully immersive consistency in the world I present. Even with that, I'll always be refining the part of art that makes it feel like me.
Let’s not get too personal here but… how many rolls do you develop per month?
I typically shoot 1-2 rolls a day on a trip depending on how exciting the environment.
What would be the #1 advice would you give to aspiring film photographers?
I love film photography, but wholeheartedly believe that learning comes from repetition. Starting with any camera around you, including your iPhone, will help you focus on composition and framing, just like any other camera without the added costs. The goal is to slowly start learning and fluently speaking the visual language of photography.
Why do you think fashion can be a powerful medium for photography and how has Memento influenced that opinion?
Photography, as a physical medium, has been so tied to the print form that we often don't get to enjoy our favorite images during everyday life. Being able to wear art from an artist you love really allows you to showcase your preference. This is the same with music, fashion, and ideals. Being able to show off your personality without saying a word is the magical side of curation. Memento really showed me that prints are not just locked to paper or social media. Being able to showcase your style on high-quality apparel lets more people enjoy your work. This truly opens up new worlds and turns the streets into your gallery.
“Memento really showed me that prints are not just locked to paper or social media. Being able to showcase your style on high-quality apparel lets more people enjoy your work. This truly opens up new worlds and turns the streets into your gallery.”
When getting your work out into the world, how do you think about the balance between offline and online mediums? Whether it be prints, books or your presence through social media and your website, etc.
My goal is to have people resonate with the images regardless of the medium. The heavy focus on online content is prevalent in the modern world more than ever before. Due to that, I feel like people seek the online connection to art more than ever before. Seeing these breathtaking moments outside of backlit screens grows your appreciation for the single image and takes away all the distractions. Without the physical side of art, we lose some of the connection we all seek.
“Without the physical side of art, we lose some of the connection we all seek.”