a little bit of everything and a whole lot of film

9 Jan 2018

Interview | Mike Janik

I have to be honest, this particular interview has rendered me momentarily starstruck inarticulate as I try to type this up.

Mike Janik is one of the first film photography Youtube channels I have ever followed. His reviews are concise but thorough, eloquently delivered (this guy knows his stuff) and presented in such a way that the viewer is completely engaged - be it a vlog or a tutorial. On top of all that, Mike's enthusiasm is highly contagious. I mean, this video has given birth to my now fully blown obsession with the Olympus MJU ii (Stylus Epic):

Aside from his Youtube channel, Mike also singlehandedly runs an online 'zine called 'The Toronto Times', which you can download for free, here. His flawless use of light coupled with his penchant for urban architecture makes him an inspiration to many (including me) who are trying their hand at capturing the world around them - scenes that for others may be seemingly mundane - and make them come alive.

1. Place of birth
Mike: Toronto, Ontario.

2. Most inspiring travel destination?
Mike: As ashamed as I am to say it, I’m not much of a traveler. There’s the adage that everyone should spend their younger years traveling, but I just don’t find myself particularly called to it. I know my mindset is completely backwards and I understand what I’m missing out on, but I just can’t seem to pull the trigger and fork over all this money to go see the world when I’ve got so many dreams to fulfill at home first. If I had to travel though, I’d be headed to the Spanish coastline ASAP.

3. Top 5 things on your bucket list?
Mike: 1) Get my Master’s degree.
2) Become like, the best photographer ever.
3) Get hired as Toronto’s chief city planner.
4) Live a lifestyle that lets me enjoy really lavish and leisurely breakfasts overlooking incredible
5) Overcome all my fears and find peace with myself.

4. What is your greatest extravagance?
Mike: As lofty as my goals might be, I’m really a pretty simple person. In an ideal world I’d be spending all I could on ridiculous stuff like letterpresses and risograph machines and exquisite pyjamas and many novelty desk toys.

5. What brought you into film photography? How long have you been shooting?
Mike: I’ve been shooting film for the past four years as a response to the incredible boredom of digital photography. I could try butchering a bunch of cliches as to how ‘film photography slows you down, blah blah blah’ but that wouldn’t get to the root of the motive. Film is just intoxicatingly fun. In a weird way, I think I was drawn to it because my mom would never let me take any photos with the family camera when I was a young buck; she’d worry I’d waste every frame on the roll! BUT LOOK AT ME NOW, MOM! I’M KILLING THE GAME!

6. Favourite film stock?
Mike: Portra 160 till the death of me; it’s one of very few films that can leave an immediate visual impact. I could wax poetic about its pastel tones, its warm highlights, its super fine grain, but I’ll spare you the drivel.

7. Why film though?
Mike: Why do adrenaline junkies keep going for the next craziest thing? Why do people smoke and drink? Why do people instinctively enjoy risk? Because it feels bloody fantastic. It’s self indulgence that gets your heart pumping! Film excites me to no end, and its intricacies and ephemerality gets me so amped. I just keep coming back for more.

8. Youtube or Instagram? 
Mike: Youtube all day. Instagram is a cesspool and a constant vying for attention that draws all the emphasis away from the photography presented and turns it into an arbitrary popularity contest. Also, definitely take my cynicism with a grain of salt. Youtube can also fall victim to the same tendencies, but I’ve learned how to push back all the harsh comments and personal attacks and just focus on making videos I’ll be still stoked to watch ten years from now.

9. Colour or black and white?
Mike: Come on, Miko, you know I can’t answer this. THIS IS AN IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION!!! AHHH!!!

10. Introvert or extrovert?
Mike: I skirt the line between the two of them and my response is largely contextual. I’m not necessarily introverted, but I can be satisfied with being alone; however, I do find great strength in relationships and I’m always trying to make friends, but doing so can be really tough!! Getting over social aversions is tricky for me - case in point my first week of school this semester. I was so stressed out about my new program and having to be in a room full of new people that my body totally shut down. I was a trembling mess of anxiety and I was physically sick for the rest of the week. Contrarily, I really come out of my shell when I’m with friends.

11. Early bird or night owl?
Mike: I adore mornings and the sense of potential they carry, but I’m most productive when I burn the midnight oil.

12. Name three songs that would sum up your 2017. 
Mike: 1) Ka - Ours 2) Dipset - DJ Enuff Freestyle 3) Wiki - NMIM

13. Name three films you can watch over and over again. 
Mike: 1) Spotlight 2) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 3) Lost in Translation

14: What was one insecurity you had about yourself and how did you overcome it? 
Mike: I think my biggest insecurity is my lack of confidence, both in myself and in my work. I haven’t yet overcome it, but I’m working towards it with all my might. I do worry that I’ll sway into undeserved overconfidence, and so I still need to tread lightly.

15. Describe yourself in one word. 
Mike: Potential.

16. What makes you happy? 
Mike: The small things. Little observations, little happenings, small victories, seven million dollars in my bank account. You know, the small things.

17. Name three inspirations.
Mike: 1) Daido Moriyama
2) Mid-century graphic design
3) William Whyte

All photographs by Mike Janik

Follow him ☆

Youtube - Mike Janik
Twitter - @mike_janik
Zine - The Toronto Times

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