For over a decade, Julia Holcomb has been dedicated to the art of analogue photography. Since joining Flickr in 2013 and becoming a member of Black Women Photographers, Holcomb's work has been a testament to the roots of photography, emphasizing the value of the process behind the photograph. In an increasingly fast-paced world, Holcomb's work encourages us to take a step back and appreciate the beauty of slowing down.
Meet Julia, a therapist with 18 years of experience, whose true passion is analogue photography. Born in New York and raised between San Francisco and New York, she considers herself a hybrid of both places. For the past 15 years, Julia has called Chicago her home. When asked how she got interested in and started with photography Julia said, “I started my photography journey my senior year in college with an Intro to Photography class; I took it out of curiosity. I loved it so much that I took it as an independent study again in my last semester. This led to a year-long photography internship at The Staten Island Advance after graduation.”
“My mentor was this awesome photographer, Michael McWeeney, who introduced me to film photography experimentation including pinhole photography. Over the years, I lost my love for the art form, and I returned to it around 2012 after I had a big personal loss. I was seeking beauty in the world again, and I came across the (former) Lomography store in Chicago.”
Julia considers herself an Experimental Analogue Nerd! She’s drawn to experimental films, unique cameras, and documenting what speaks to her and brings her joy. Julia shoots primarily with a Polaroid SX 70, Polaroid Land Camera 230, Holga, Lomography LC-Wide, Lomo Lubitel and simple use cameras. She shared, “My fave film to shoot these days is Lomography’s Lomochrome Purple film, but I am also a huge fan of expired slide film, experimental films (i.ee Psychedelic Blues film) and b&w instant film.”
When asked what inspires her to shoot at a specific location, Julia said “I am inspired by subtle beauty (I love me an alley!) and joy. Light also speaks to me. I love how light illuminates a subject in a million different ways. And it’s up to me to document it in a way that will tell the story I want to tell. Interestingly, I can never create when I am in a setting where there is not some form of kindness. This sounds incredibly cheesy, but if I don’t feel something positive in the atmosphere, my photos never come out well.”
“I am also super passionate about creating art of my community, especially Black women just being. So much of the art I’ve consumed has been from the male perspective. I love showcasing Black women being our authentic selves in ways I don’t see super often. I love shooting portraits, double exposures, Polaroid’s and expired film as well.”
We asked Julia to choose one of her favorite photos to share. Upon sharing the above photo she said, “I LOVE this photo. It is totally imperfect and yet I sincerely love it. In the series finale of the show Insecure, there was a photo in the background of a scene showcasing a woman with cornrows. I was so drawn to it, so it inspired me to create this photo. Daily, I would see this random tree in the parking lot of a local Walgreen’s on my way to the bus stop. Each time I saw it, I thought it would be perfect in a photo with Lomochrome Purple film.”
She shared that this photo was shot at that tree when her cousins were in town visiting her. “The reason I love this photo so much is that it is one of the few photos I’d planned ahead of time and it came out better than I could have hoped. I don’t even mind that it is not totally crisp with the focusing. This was shot in the second half of the roll and when I rewound the roll, the film snapped in half. That has never happened to me before. I took a blanket, sat under it on the floor in my bathroom and transferred the one half of a roll to another film canister. So, I love this shot even more because I had to work especially hard to get it.”
When asked about editing she said, “ I don’t edit my photos much. The Darkroom Lab does such a great job with development, so I don’t have to do too much tweaking. This particular photo was developed locally because of the special circumstances. I wanted to make sure I could explain in person what I needed to a live person, and the guy who developed it was so nice that I even brought him a thank you slice of cake!”
Julia’s love for film photography has been unwavering from day one, but lately she’s been looking for inspiration and snapping photos less frequently. She shared with us, “Without putting too much pressure on myself, my goal for 2024 is to find out what my new passions are. I know how to take care of people; I haven’t mastered how to take care of myself.”
Julia has been a member of the Flickr community since 2013. “I don’t have much as far as social media goes. While I totally appreciate popular social media photo sites, they aren’t conducive to my personality. With Flickr, I can hone in on artists who inspire me. They feel tangible to me. With some of the artists on Flickr, I feel like I’ve met them in person because of the way we connect on the site. And there are some who I have met in person because of us connecting on the site. I’ve done a photo walk with a Flickr artist from France and one from Georgia. I’ve done a photowalk in San Francisco with multiple Flickr artists. How cool is that? I think this is something that is unique to Flickr.”
Julia concluded the interview saying, ““I am grateful to each and every person who has taken the time out to check out my art, like and comment. It’s lovely when people show interest in something that is created as a labor of love.”
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