I met Joe, a.k.a. @likexritual, a few years back at a zine event and we had a pleasant conversation about film photography. He and I exchanged info and so I checked out his IG and portfolio. Solid work from this young eager photographer. From there I purchased one of his zines, Looking For Parking and was impressed with the quality of photos and theme he presented. From that zine I reached out to Joe for an interview for Snapshot. Enjoy!
Please tell us who you are and what you do?
Yo! My name is Joe. I go by @likexritual on everything online and photo related. It’s a play on a song from a band I really like, so I ran with it. I am a resident of Los Angeles and a avid fan of film photography, art, movies and everything related to out of the box sub cultures.
I have been taking photos on film for around 4-5 years. I was born in Eagle Rock, California which is in Northeast Los Angeles. I was raised in the Inland Empire. Recently I moved back to LA 3 or 4 years ago and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. There is so much to love here.
Where did you grow up and how did that impact your creativity?
I grew up in San Bernardino, CA. Growing up in the IE really gives you a unique perspective on California and the West Coast. Since we are not connected to LA you had to find ways to stay busy and pursue hobbies. I involved myself into punk rock, hardcore and being straight edge when I was 17 and being involved in that I played music and snapped photos when I was growing up.
The inland empire has a great art scene and with the help of the internet it is really exploding. I was lucky enough to be raised in a pretty suburban area and was brought up middle class. I discovered photography in high school and was the kid annoying everyone with the 2 megapixel Kodak EasyShare camera.
Living in the IE and taking photos went hand in hand for me. It was a good way to find cool photo subjects and rather mundane things. People looking from the outside might just see this area as a bunch of strip malls and shitty places in the middle of the desert but it is much more than that. Moving back to LA I feel like it heightened my senses when taking photos. Coming from somewhere that isn’t as photogenic and but really challenging to take photos in, LA is a ridiculously photogenic place. I never get tired of taking photos here. It is my goal to document Los Angeles in a way I don’t think most people view it.
What’s your favorite film/camera setup? Why?
My favorite setup is the Contax T2 with a roll of Portra 400. You can’t beat that Zeiss lens. I love Kodak’s warmth and versatility. It’s great on people, city scenes and everything outdoors. I have shot majority of my photos on a variation of Portra and Ektar. My style is bright and bold. Zero grain with a super sharp image. The T2 is my best friend.
Before shooting film what did you take or create your photos with?
I have had many cameras since my days only shooting digital photos which is what I primarily used for bands, landscape in the beginning but the iPhone really made photography explode for me. it’s always on you, simple and great for those quick shots and sharing is instant. I was really into learning how to edit and use the many available applications on your phone that basically teach you how to make your photos replicate how film look so once I got into film photography I haven’t seen a reason to pursue digital photography, although I do dabble here and there. I’m a big believer in making the photo correctly the first time and film has taught me to do that.
Explain to our readers the photo series that is accompanied to this interview.
I just released a zine titled “Home”. It is a series of photos dedicated to my favorite neighborhoods and homes around Northeast Los Angeles. I am in love with Pasadena and it’s surrounding cities. It takes me back to living in those areas when I was little.
I have aspirations of making a book using these photos. My photo archive consists of homes and neighborhoods as the ones in this zine. Theses are some of my favorite things to shoot. I drove Uber for a few years and I was able to see so much of LA this way.
Any other projects our readers should be on the lookout for?
Currently I am also working on another zine soon titled “Looking For Parking”. The photos in this project are shots I’ve taken around town with my T2 while driving around LA. There is so much beauty and cool symmetry in Los Angeles so I am always scanning and looking around while out driving. Some of my favorite shots are from spur of the moment situations while just looking out of my car window.
Can you explain your process of creating a zine? Do you shoot first then create a zine or is it a thought out process then execute. Give our readers a sense of how you create a zine.
I don’t really set out to create a zine, or set out to take photos for that matter. I am a fan of themes though and when they are done great, I am inspired by them. I find myself taking photos of things that interest me but when I find myself with a lot of photos of the same thing but in different detail then I am more inclined to make a zine of those images. I am a big fan of photos flowing well and having a set “feeling” to them. For Home, I found myself in these areas so much because I lived and worked close to them. Everything that caught my eye, I shot. After about ten rolls I thought “man, it would be sick to do something with these”. Aside from the book I am going to release in the near future, the zine version of Home I’m really excited about because I feel like it reads the way it feels to walk through these neighborhoods and notice the details. That’s my favorite way to take photos and make things from them.
What is the main objective for you when creating a zine?
My main objective when creating a zine is to paint the setting in a different way than someone may just see when walking or driving by. I do not think my photos tell a story that isn’t very apparent or obvious. I think the best way to have fun with photography is to document things around you. The scenes I create are just the settings most people live in and I think that can be special.
The only project I thought of before taking any of the photos for is called “Riding In Cars With Girls”. It’s a zine I’m working on to benefit a few organizations that empower women in Los Angeles and all over the country. I’m taking photos of female Uber passengers of mine in a silly/happy way and the response has been really good. I’ve met a lot of beautiful, talented and strong women shooting these photos. I’m glad they are supporting the cause. I thought it would be awesome to document women in Los Angeles going from place to place by taking away the sexualisation of them and just take a chance shooting portraits. It’s my first time taking photos of people, so I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Do you participate in zine events? What type of zines interest you as a consumer?
I am a huge fan of printed media. I love zines. My room is exploding with them. I love supporting other people’s art and perspective, and when they return the favor it’s a great feeling. I enjoy trading as well. I also attend zine events and all things diy. Some people tend to be a bit critical on the content and politics behind zine events, but I tend to ignore that stuff and I just want to see and buy photos, zines and books that inspire me. I am attracted to realism, zines that really push the human element, city scenes and Californian architecture.
Any final thoughts for our readers?
I think film photography is super important. I believe this medium teaches us to be very selective with what we capture. Everyone has their own style and the digital vs. film argument is pretty tired. love photography but film holds a certain place in my heart. It produces something tangible, it feels real and you can feel its texture and warmth. Film looks like how my memories feel, if that makes sense. Trends come and go in everything but I embrace and encourage everyone to shoot film because I feel like we are a group of people that “get it”. It will always be my favorite medium and it will always be my preferred way of taking photos.
A big thank you to Joe for doing this interview. Give him a follow on IG via @likexritual and also check out more his photography thru his website likexritual.com. Lastly if you want a copy of his latest zines visit likexritual.bigcartel.com.