'Fifty on Film' cover (Pic: Mike Caputo)
The zine is available now via Blurb (Pic: Mike Caputo)

By Mike Caputo

Mike Caputo tells Kosmo Foto about his new film photography zine, featuring contributions from 50 photographers from every state in the US.

The idea for the zine happened in late March. I was daydreaming about old road trips across America I’ve taken and of how I would like to travel the country again and shoot it on film.

My mind wandered from film stocks I would like to use on such a trip, to all the photographers I know throughout the country from social media. One thought led to another and I began considering all the different styles of film shooters I admire. That’s when the idea for the book hit, to get a photographer from every state to represent their geographical location in their own personal style, and give the reader the ability to take a photographic journey through the pages.

Finding photographers was both simple and yet challenging in certain aspects. I filled the list of states in less than two days, but it was an enormously busy time with a flurry of constant messaging. The concept was still developing while I was sending out inquiries through Instagram. I spent hours looking at accounts I follow on social media, checking out their photos, and seeing if I could determine their location if it wasn’t listed.

Pictures in the book from Mike Caputo (Pic: Mike Caputo)
Some of Mike Caputo’s own contributions to the zine (Pics: Mike Caputo)

As soon as I found someone I thought would be a good addition to the zine, I fired off a direct message. Everyone I messaged was eager to participate and excited about the project. They were also very helpful in giving recommendations on who I should invite.

I asked every photographer to either shoot a new roll of B&W film for the project, or send me photos they have taken in the past, including at least one image that might show their location however they interpret it. I also asked for a brief bio, film stocks used, the processing lab or chemistry types if home developed, and social media accounts and website information. I gave everyone a deadline of three weeks to complete all this by 17 April.

Mountains and lake (Pic: Zachary Allen)
(Pic: Zachary Allen)

I had the majority of the states filled in 24 hours, however, there were a handful that I couldn’t find from either searching the list of people I follow or the recommendations that participants made of friends. I decided to put out a vague notice on my Instagram Stories for anyone from Arkansas, Delaware, North Dakota, and Wyoming; I simply said I had a cool project going and please message me if you are from one of those states.

That did the trick for Arkansas and Wyoming. Eventually I started an internet search for film photographers from Delaware and North Dakota. The photographers I found were excellent additions.

Portrait in profile of woman (Pic: Matt Stoffel)
(Pic: Matt Stoffel)

Fortunately, almost everyone I initially invited joined the project, and only one who committed wasn’t able to make the deadline at the end (completely understandable considering how short the deadline was). I hustled to fill the vacancy and not delay the project. I was hellbent on giving my best and doing everything possible to complete the zine knowing how many people were involved.

I’ve been shooting and developing my own film for about five years now. I decided to put my focus on organising and planning the zine and go to the archives for my own contribution. I used a photograph I took of my daughter when she was performing hula on stage, and some other activities I enjoy; surfing, staring at palm trees, and a swim with sharks.

Pictures by Matt Stoffel (Pics: Matt Stoffel)
(Pics: Matt Stoffel)

It was wonderful meeting new photographers who are as passionate about traditional photography as I am. It was amazing to see the wide variety of style and talent. Looking at the photos inspired me to go out and try new techniques; it was refreshing and motivational.

I thought the best approach with the number of people participating would be to have the magazine available to print and order single copies on demand. This would give the ability to order as many or as few copies as anyone would like, and also relieve me of the responsibility for filling orders and shipping. I plan on keeping it available indefinitely, or until the urge to start Volume 2 hits me.

You can buy ’50 on Film’ via Blurb – the book costs $33.95.

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Stephen Dowling
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