My name is Jean-Paul but I go by the alias ‘Thirdculture’ for my photography and creative work. The name Thirdculture basically comes from the term ‘Third Culture Kid’, which as wikipedia describes is, “…a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.” I stumbled across the term one day on the Internet and was realised it was me!
My background is Australian/Rodrigan, though I tend to just say I’m Australian/Mauritian because most people have never heard of Rodrigues Island. It’s a tiny autonomous outer island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, which wasn’t even on most world maps when I was a kid. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up around the world but spent the most time in Japan (10 years) and Hong Kong (4 years) then moved to Melbourne, Australia when I was 16 and have been here since.
How long have you been taking photos?
My oldest memory of taking photos goes back to school field trips in Japan, just standard stuff like a Grade 2 trip to the zoo or museum. I always had a disposable camera with me, taking photos of the animals, exhibits or friends, whatever. Everyone knows that stereotype of Japanese tourists always taking photos of everything everywhere they go. Well that stereotype is not actually too far from the truth and I think taking happy snaps and photos became an everyday part of Japanese culture. Most of my classmates had cameras with them on these field trips too, so it was totally normal. I guess I just generally liked taking photos and recording my memories and I continued taking photos on disposable cameras as I got older but when I was 13 I got a digital camera for my birthday. This was back when digital cameras were just starting to become more user friendly and were about 6 megapixels. It was crazy to me that I could take as many photos as I wanted and look at them straight away. I ended up setting up this MSN Group page and invited all my friends from my school and my friend’s schools to join and shared my photos of my friends and I getting up to mischief, going to middle school parties etc. It was kind of like a pre-myspace/facebook community, and I encouraged people to upload their own albums too, which they did so it was cool. People were showing me love for my photos and I appreciated it. That was really the start of me getting into photography, but I think also growing up in countries that weren’t my ‘own’ made me extra curious about everything around me. Coming down to it, I really just liked capturing my interesting surroundings and personal moments and sharing it with people. This led me to study 35mm film photography in high school and learnt to process/print my own images in the darkroom which I fell in love with and later went on to study a Bachelor of Photography at university.
What sort of photography do you enjoy or partake in the most (street, landscape, etc)
I would have to say I enjoy street photography the most with a little bit of landscape and documentary in the mix. I love to capture my surroundings and create a record of my time on this earth while creating art. Art is what it is to be human.
How big a part of your photography life are 35mm compact or rangefinder cameras?
I have been using 35mm compact cameras for the past 3 years and recently this year decided to shoot solely 35mm film, no more digital. Right now I own 2 compact 35mm cameras, one of which is always with me…so I guess you could say the 35mm compact camera is my photography life!
What about the experience of shooting with them appeals to you?
I always had issues with big cameras like SLRs because they were so huge and heavy that I never wanted to carry them around all day. I found myself leaving my camera at home more often than not, which meant I wasn’t taking as many photos as I would have liked to. So many missed opportunities at great photos! 35mm compact cameras are exactly that…compact. I can take one with me everywhere, put it in my bag, jacket pocket or wherever and it’s not in the way or a hassle to have with me. I won’t miss another opportunity again.
Do you feel they have effected your style? become part of it? or are the reason for it…?
It’s become a part of my style as I shoot mainly street with a sort of ‘snapshot’ vibe which is what these compact cameras were essentially made for so it’s perfect.
Which is/are your favourite cameras? the one/s that go with you the most?
My main camera is a ‘Fujifilm Klasse W’ with a 28mm f/2.8 lens and my secondary and smaller camera is a ‘Fujifilm Natura Classica’ with a 28-56mm f/2.8-5.4 zoom lens.
What is it specifically about these cameras that appeal to you so much?
Firstly it was the size of the cameras, as both are really small and light, especially the Natura Classica. They are also both fairly ‘new’ 35mm compact cameras (circa 2007) as most camera companies don’t really make 35mm compact cameras anymore, most of the popular ones were made in the 90’s and early 2000’s. These two were made fairly recently so I could still buy them brand new from Japan which was great. They also both feature an ‘NP’ (Natural Photo) mode which when used with ISO 800 and above film, calculates the subject’s brightness and adjusts the exposure according to the available light which produces an image that has more ‘natural’ lighting, which is cool. The ‘Super-EBC Coated Fujinon’ lens’s are excellent too, always producing super sharp images…Fujifilm just do it right.
What was the path to this shooting habit? How did you discover it appealed to you?
When I first realised that SLR’s weren’t my thing I decided to purchase a Ricoh GR II (digital) and absolutely loved it. The digital GR series became the main camera series for the next few years until I decided to get back into 35mm film and purchase the Fujifilm Natura Classica. I slowly started to use the GR less but wanted a bit more control over my apertures so then purchased the Fujifilm Klasse W which is now my main camera.
Show us your favourite/best image/s taken with a compact or RF?
What films do you shoot with and why?
I love ‘Fujifilm Natura 1600’ because it pairs so well with my Fujifilm cameras and you can shoot it in daylight as well as low light without a lot of grain. But I have to say my favourite films would be ‘Kodak Ektar 100’ and ‘Kodak Portra 400’ just for the amazing colors they produce, especially under the harsh Australian sun during the ‘golden hour’ just before the sun sets.
How, where, why do you process and or print your photos?
I mainly process and scan my negatives to digital format at a local lab in Melbourne as I don’t have access to a darkroom anymore and I upload my photos weekly to my blog and social media. I hope to buy my own scanner in the future though.
What other cameras/type of camera do you regularly shoot with and why – what situations require something else/more if any?
I’ve recently purchased a Zeiss Ikon ZM Rangefinder but I am waiting for my lens to arrive. As I’m getting more serious with shooting street I’m finding that I want a little bit more control of my distances and depth of field with zone focusing. The rangefinder offers a lot more control and is a lot faster to select hyperlocal distances and just shooting in general. I owned a Voigtlander Bessa R3A for a while and really enjoyed shooting with it so I’m pretty excited to add a rangefinder to the line up again.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a few different series simultaneously and plan to put a couple zines together to release them and maybe a gallery show. I recently moved to a suburb called ‘West Footscray’ in Melbourne, Australia and the majority of my work has been centered around exploring the suburb and some of which can be seen on my blog, www.thirdculture.jp/blog. I’m in the process of getting my online store ready to open and will be selling select limited edition prints and some custom camera wrist straps (specially for compact cameras) and a few other surprises that I will reveal soon!
Thanks for the questions Hamish!