On Thursday night at the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles, Matt Titone and the folks at Indoek will open 27 Frames, a photography show featuring Jeff Johnson, Jason Baffa, Jimmy “Jimmycane” Wilson, Molly Steele, Zak Bush, Dylan Gordon, Daniel Russo, Will Adler, Nick Lavecchia, SURFER Photo Editor Grant Ellis, and a host of others. Each photographer was given one single-use, disposable camera, and sent out into their respective worlds. What came back are 88 images that will be available for viewing and purchase on Thursday night, with 100% of the sales going to the Surfrider Foundation. We talked with Titone about the show, and what guests can expect Thursday night.
How did the project come about? What was the impetus?
We wanted to try to do something different than the usual Instagram takeover with different photographers on the Indoek account, where people perfectly curate a few of their best photos and write captions for them. We thought it would be fun for them to do their best with a crappy disposable, send it back for us to develop, then surprise them with the results and hear about their experiences after the fact. From there, it just continued to grow, with more and more photographers wanting to get involved.
So everyone just got a package with the same camera?
Yep! That was a fun part about this project: no matter the photographers' subject matter or personal style, it was a level playing field equipment-wise. All the photographers used the same exact shitty camera, shot the same number of frames – hence the name – and hoped for the best.
What were you looking for in photographers when you developed the show?
You know, it wasn't anything specific, to be totally honest. Most of the photographers we included in the project were personal friends or people with whom we've collaborated in the past. We dig their work. Many of the photographers involved are known for different types of work – outdoor, adventure, surf, athletic, interiors, fashion, studio, still-life, street, etc. That said, they all have done something in the past that we admire, and that made us want to include them in this project.
Was there a constant theme for the show?
It's funny – There was never supposed to be. We left the subject matter completely open when we sent everyone their cameras. We sort of expected people to shoot the usual stuff that they are known for, just with a disposable camera. The guy who shoots models for a living will have a bunch of portraits; the water photographer will throw his disposable in a water housing or plastic bag and shoot; the New Yorker will have a lot of city street scenes; and the girl who shoots still life and interiors will come back with those images. What actually happened, without any direction from us, was that almost everyone took their camera with them on some sort of trip, or a few different trips. Travel seemed to emerge as the subtle theme of the show.
What was surprising getting the film back?
There were definitely a few surprises along the way. Everyone in this show is an amazing photographer, but shooting film takes skill and some luck for everyone, including the pros. In this digital age, we are so used to being able to shoot and shoot until we get the image we want. For a lot of photographers, twenty seven frames is not a lot of chances to get a perfect shot.
When you keep in mind the process of shooting on a disposable camera – saving those precious 27 frames for just the right moment, not wasting a shot – what was most surprising and impressive to me were the rolls of film with so many different great shots in them. Scott Soens' roll comes to mind. He has more photos in the show than anyone else from the series, and they are all so different. There's a beautiful empty wave, some mountains and landscapes, a scene where he’s driving through a blizzard, and even an airplane landing right overhead – which is crazy close, considering it was shot on a disposable.
It was the little glimpses into peoples' lives that felt more real than the polished images you can find on their Instagram feeds that really made the project fun and charming in my mind.
Are the prints for sale?
Yes, all 88 prints are framed and will be sold at the event in a silent auction format from 6:00pm until 9:00pm. 100% of the sales will go directly to Surfrider Foundation.
How long will the show be up?
Just one night! This Thursday, January 12th at the Think Tank Gallery, 939 Maple Ave, in Los Angeles. There’s a reception from 6:00-7:00pm, then a silent auction until 9:00pm, followed by an afterparty.