Analogue Ambition: An interview with Photographer Mike Janik

Mike Janik is a Toronto based photographer and filmmaker. His blend of landscape and architecture emphasises the simplicity and design of urban environments.

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Tell us about the photography/art scene in Toronto?
I don’t think Toronto has any kind of definitive scene in general, like there’s nothing that Toronto has really originated or mastered, but I do think we’ve just started to bud in terms of building a collective creative identity for the city. For the most part, Toronto follows in the footsteps of other global cities and this is reflected in a large part of its population – there are few true innovators, there aren’t many art institutions accessible to emerging artists, and there isn’t too much of a DIY/underground/collective art scene. But again, we are starting to make a real name for ourselves and hopefully I’ll be able to integrate myself even more in this process in the years to come.

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What direction do you see the future of analogue photography?
I’m kind of torn on this question. On the one hand, there’s a bunch of people that just shoot film because it’s the popular thing to do and they don’t go more than surface-deep with film photography, but even though this annoys me, I hope it carries on because that creates a market for film. Without these people, the film revival wouldn’t have boomed as much as it did and as long as people want to shoot film, it’ll keep film available and maybe even encourage companies to bring back old film stocks (fingers crossed!!). The optimist inside me hopes that people will be able to connect with the medium more deeply and use all of its offerings to their full creative potentials in the future. I know I’ll be keeping my fridge stocked with all the film I can find.
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What makes a good photograph?
Oh man, this is such a subjective question. A good photograph needs to start with a good subject, there’s no workaround for that, everything else is a secondary factor. But I’m satisfied with a photo I take if the composition is simple and it brings out the unique qualities of the subject. Lately I’ve been finding myself looking for more depth in the photos I take; I’ll find a nice piece of architecture but I’ll need to bring more elements into the background or foreground of the frame to really elevate the shot. It’s still a learning process for me, and it always will be.

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How do you come across the locations of your work?
A lot of walks. I commute more or less everywhere by walking and I always try to find alternate routes to wherever I’m going, just to change things up. Especially downtown, the possibilities for this are endless and they’re always presenting me with new shortcuts and new subjects to shoot. More than anything, I just love to explore every little borough and community and it’s become second nature for me now to walk around with a camera in hand with no real plan, eventually get lost, and immerse myself in wherever I’ve wound up.

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What can you see from you in 2015?
I’ve been working nonstop through 2015, I released a zine called Structure a couple weeks back (that you can download for free at this link! http://bit.ly/1Kc0I3w) and I’m planning on releasing another two zines in late summer/fall along with two new photo series. Will also be working more on my YouTube channel and have been brainstorming ideas for impromptu public art exhibitions, it should be fantastic!

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www.miketakes.photos